Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"what's the true role of media nowadays?"

this is my response to a thread on MIX.

we are indeed a culture that is fascinated with violence and catastrophes, but we are mainly a culture that is fueled by fear. and considering our country's history, it seems that it has been that way for quite a while.

from the beginnings of our industrialized history, we have profited from exploiting the concept of the "other" -- outsiders or the unknown. the "snowclone" of "if you don't do 'X', the bad guys win" can be credited with most of our country's economic growth.

but today, it's not just the "bad guys" we need to worry about. there is no longer just "one evil". everywhere we go, we are now given the message that constant danger is lurking around our every action.

we have become so afraid of everything, that we are even afraid to make up our own minds. we are so frozen in our fears that we allow our media to spoonfeed us everything from "what happened" to "how we should feel about happened". we are so desperate for the illusion of safety that we pour our time and hard-earned money into schemes that are designed solely to perpetuate the fears we are trying so hard to escape.

and it's oh so profitable.

granted, some of our fears are warranted on some level. i most definitely would not want to be in a car crash, caught in a gang shooting, mugged, suffocated to death by my own friends, cooked in a microwave by my father, drowned by a post-partum mom, attacked by a road-rage-charged driver, mobbed by out-of-control teens, or spontaneously combust.

all of the events described in that list have indeed happened. and yes, they are undoubtedly disturbing situations. but what is the likelihood of all of these things happening to each and every one of us? it appears that we are fearing the wrong things.

maybe it boils down to simple human nature. somewhere deep within our psyche, we have an inherent, twisted intrest in the obscure, the painful, the uncertainty of the unknown... and our conscious, morally-governed mind is in a persistent battle for dominance over it all.

if that is true, maybe the media isn't necessarily entirely to blame. perhaps the current state of mass media is a personification of our own inner evils brought to the surface allowing us to externalize our own faults and escape passing judgement on ourselves; we depend on the media to present such horrible images of "the others" so that we can validate our own uncouth actions by comparison.

but, in my humble opinion, that's no way to live. living in a constant state of anxious fear and panic in exchange for temporarily evading personal responsibility is not my idea of fun.

it hurts all of us greatly in the end. we'll become completely disengaged from reality. disconnected from a sense of balance. lost in an ocean of moral indifference. it'll only contribute to more ignorance, prejudice, and violence.

with today's technology making the world ever so smaller and closer, our need for responsible media sources is greater than ever before. everyone should be entitled to balanced news, and be encouraged to develop the skills necessary to take their own stand on a given issue.

but, that change is entirely up to us, before any media outlet follows suit. As long as we watch the carnival that is today's mass media, there's money to be made. but the generation of revenue isn't the problem. it's what we choose to watch. we ourselves must elect for change if the media landscape is to improve.

if not, we could have mass-miscommunication at a detrimental level. and that could prove to be disastrous for all of us.

or deep down, maybe that's what we really want.

No comments: