toxic_media

“Oh my God!” she shouted – exasperated – as she swung open the office door. She was flaunting her phone for us all to see, explaining that BBC Breaking News had just informed her that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were filing for divorce. Granted, the announcement was met with my surprise at first, but then my reaction moved to one of dismay. I was disgusted that the BBC had deemed this breaking news.

I understand, we live in a celebrity culture. I understand that celebrities are powerful brand ambassadors, marketing tools and sources of entertainment. But more than that, in a rather sinister sense celebrities are used as tools of distraction. If the media can scream and shout about the latest weight loss or nose job or in this case divorce, that’s bait. That’s bait for us, with our short attention spans and easily-influenced minds to feed upon. Meanwhile, beneath the surface darker tales are panning out.

The point of this post is not simply to rant, though I must say that I do take pride in that particular skill of mine. No, this post is more of a ‘how to’. How can we live amicably with the mass media when we don’t necessarily agree with the crap it spews?

  1. Don’t give it your power. We are each capable of deciding in any given moment whether to hold onto our own power or give it away. When you hear or read or see a story being presented to you as the ‘news’, firstly remember that the story was selected and manipulated in a way that the company doing the reporting benefits from. Remember that these are simply from the perspective of people with particular kinds of interests. Not all of it will affect your reality. What you’re hearing/reading/seeing is only a fraction of what is actually occurring in the world right now. It’s not even a dot on a page. Remember that you can choose the kind of reality you’re living and interacting with. What you’re being told isn’t necessarily it.
  2. Make a habit of taking in information from alternative sources. In other words, do your research. Read the publications that interest you. Follow the work of people you find inspiring. Be proactive in your approach to learning about the world and not resorting to being spoon-fed.
  3. Laugh at it. I know, trust me, that the time is now for changing the world and all that jazz. However, a bunch of angry, panicked individuals doesn’t really result in much other than frenzy. No, what’s going to comprise our salvation is strong, calm, centered individuals. That’s why you have to turn and laugh at the clever tactics used by the mass media, you really do. The material being churned out may be stupid, but the brains behind the creations are not. See through how it all works and you’re half way there. You can’t be sucked in if you understand what’s going on.

I remember being a teenager and thinking that people who didn’t read the news were stupid and ignorant. Nowadays, I realise that there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the’ news. There’s simply news and in topics across the spectrum. Don’t waste your time on information that you don’t need to dwell on – information that isn’t going to help you do your best work. Give it the middle finger and delve into those things that set your soul on fire.

Photo: Flickr

 

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oil_spill

What should be the purpose of our mainstream news providers? I’m talking about the major players: those stations that are accessed by the millions? One would think, to provide unbiased, accurate news. They should be reporting to us what is happening around the world. If we are well informed, we get a good grasp on the state of play and can offer aid where needed etc. Surely that’s logical: see a problem and cooperate with others to come up with a solution? Preferably there would be some good stuff thrown in there too, as opposed to pure doom and gloom. It’s important we don’t forget that there are so many people doing great work every day.

The thing is though, our news providers are funded by large corporations. And in the best interests of these corporations, the various media through which our new reaches us are manipulated like puppets on a stage.

The world is a large place. And it’s inevitable that big news happening close to home will get more emphasis than what’s happening abroad. Floods disrupting rail travel in the UK are of little concern to a man in Norway, for example. Or a strike by fishermen at a French port irrelevant to the land-locked of Poland.

But when an issue is global – thus affecting all of us – it should go without saying that it’s top of the newsreel. This doesn’t happen though.

Did you know there have been two major oil spills in the Southeastern and Gulf areas of the United States this month? Over 5,000 gallons of crude oil have leaked in the Bay Long area of Louisiana and secondly a pipeline has ruptured in Alabama, spilling 338,000 gallons. What makes it to the ocean has the potential to spread around the world.

In Bay Long, the pipeline owned by Harvest Pipeline Company was accidentally cut during a restoration project that’s been taking place since BP’s massive spill in 2010. The Coast Guard are still working to recover the area and prevent further environmental damage.

In Alabama, a pipeline running oil from Texas to New York has ruptured, forcing the states of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina to declare states of emergency on the basis of fuel shortages and environmental destruction. Supposedly the rupture occurred in the most ideal location of anywhere on route, but the cleanup has only just begun and the area hyper-sensitive to the point where overhead air space has been closed.

Our environment is what connects us all. We all have it in common. It is home. We only have one planet to support us and so it’s only fair that we each offer it respect and maintain it’s well-being. Without it, there is no us.

Insatiable greed for monetary wealth unfortunately ranks higher on the priority list than environmental care for big business tycoons. And this is why we have the issue of our news providers not putting such environmental disasters top of the list. If an oil spill isn’t a favourable broadcasting topic for a large monetary provider, it’s going to get the cut.

As much as we aspire to live in a society based on truth and the well-being of the masses, unfortunately the current state of affairs is not up to par. It’s important that we remember that the messages we’re getting on repeat every 30 minutes on the radio or on the morning and evening news are manipulated in the favour of those paying for the service. Unbiased, fact-based news isn’t always what’s placed on the table. In fact, it rarely is.

So what can we do about it? I believe in our current society, in order to know what is going on around the globe we must be active. Passively sitting on the couch and being fed the news will never give you the full picture. It’s sad, because things really should be better than this. We really should be placing environmental welfare top of the ranks. A healthy home equals a healthy heart for each of us. But take a look at two of the largest news providers: CNN and BBC. Neither of which have a news tab for the environment on their main website. The former has nothing of relevance and the BBC has ‘Science’ as a tab, which it places its environmental articles under.

Corruption, biased representation and suppression are all common themes today. But it’s nothing new. Since the dawn of the monetary age, man’s weakness for greed has driven the world to a division. Spinning in fear is not the answer and remember that as much bad as there is happening, there is more good. Educate yourself, sure, but most of all remember that all is not what it seems.

A good friend of mine recently gave me some food for thought. She said, it’s easy to feel like everything is chaotic and the apocalypse near approaching, but it’s only because we are all so connected today. If something tragic happens, ripples are felt across the internet-connected world. But if something wonderful happens, this also can be shared. This can be used to our advantage if we’re switched on enough to get our priorities straight.

Photo: NOLA

 

 

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