Sunday, August 14, 2016
The Media Does Not Tell You What To Think...
It tells you what everyone else thinks.
I don’t follow politics, but the other day a Trump supporter I know was commenting to some other Trump supporters on how something Trump had said was “dumb” because it was “controversial”.
Me: “Were you actually, personally, outraged by the comment?”
Them: “Not me personally, no.”
Me: “So, then, what’s the problem?”
Them: “It just makes him look bad to everybody else.”
Me: “But you personally are not outraged or offended?”
Me: “Can you name one person, you personally know, who was outraged or offended by the comment?”
Me: "Is it going to change whether or not you vote for him?'
You see, the media doesn’t tell you what to think, it tells you what everyone else is supposedly going to think. And then you are supposed to fret over that. (why you are supposed to care what other people think is a whole other question and subject)
If that sounds vaguely familiar it’s because it is the tactic of mass marketing.
Some commercial tells you, ‘This season, everyone is drinking Pepsi’, and you suddenly regret the 12 pack of Mountain Dew you brought home the other day.
Some TV program shows you how “everyone else” is vacationing abroad this year and suddenly you feel like a stick in the mud for not going in debt up to your ass on the beaches of Maui.
Of course this sort of hypothetical-peer pressure works best on the under 30 crowd, but it is also not without affect on the more seasoned, who should know better.
See, journalists never presume to talk on your behalf. No, they talk to you presumptively on behalf of everybody else.
Do you understand that?
When you read or watch news you are not being asked to form an opinion, you are being told what “everyone else” already thinks, and therefore, you should think that way too.
Hollywood works the same way. It shows you how the cool people think and behave and how the bad/dumb people think and behave.
This is why Hollywood never shows films about people you actually know, or have met, who live in a world that even vaguely resembles the real one.
The same is true with journalism. The kind of people/pundits/spokespersons you see on the news never speak or act like an actual human being you’ve ever come into contact with. Their beliefs and opinions are always extreme and marginal compared to the people you know and meet in the wide world.
The legitimacy of journalism has always been questionable, to say the least. Journalism began after the advent of the printing press and became a sensational bullhorn for merchant oligarchs in need of propaganda for their shady schemes and endeavors.
In the age of the Internet and mass communication, journalism stands on ever thin ice as a legitimate facet of society. It’s kind of like the Catholic Church during the Reformation, insisting that it is a needed intermediary between you and the “higher powers”, when, in truth, it just wants to be that higher power itself.