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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Idees Noires

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be famous. A big part of me shudders at the thought; the being so conspicuous, the death threats, the obsessive stalkers, the pressure to do certain things or act a certain way. The idea that you have managers or stylists or publicists or whoever else transforming or representing you based on their idea of beauty or perfection or appeal to the masses rather than your own personality and truth is not right at all. Not right for the soul.

But it must also be a giant ego boost to know that you have fans; to know that what you do or say could influence the next big wave of thought or action. There is great power in that. Everyone wants to feel desired, right? If you’ve got an idea that you feel worth shouting about at the top of your lungs, you want to be heard, right? Being in a public position allows you to have the means by which to get that message across.

Striving for greatness and having fame as a by-product is fine, in my humble, nobody, average-kinda-gal opinion, but what about these people that make up a substantial portion of the famous-that-be? You have got to be kidding me with these socialites and their contributions that stretch little further than how to be aesthetically-pleasing – only part of the time. How is this the way that the world works? I’m referring to these social-charmers that because of their looks and supposed sex appeal are dangled in front of us through a variety of media, setting disgraceful standards for what is considered a role model; a person to be inspired by. I’m talking about these people that put all the emphasis on surface-level bull-crap: appearance and money.

Why are the pioneers of a better world not the face of big brands, on the pages of magazines, on the front covers of the papers? I’m referring to the type of person whose aim is to encourage us to grow and develop and cultivate our passions. It’s rather simple really; it all comes down to our narrow-track, carnal, animalistic, basal nature: sex sells. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve paved the road to adulthood, it’s that your sexuality plays a damn important role in your life. It will either be the reason you’re discriminated, ostracised, praised, facilitated, endangered, victimised, or worshipped.

We like to think we’re all high and mighty, but we are still putting the wrong people on the pedestals of western society. Granted, you can ignore a huge chunk of these shallow sources that serve you in no way, but you can’t get away from it all. And in particular it’s the youth that are hit most. I don’t think I’d be the only one to say that I am glad my awkward teenage years are behind me now. That is not a period of my life I’d like to relive, because at the time I had little sense of identity, little confidence in many respects. I was easily influenced and forever changing my persona based on what I thought was cool that week. So with this in mind, why are we flaunting entirely the wrong type of person to young people and telling them that this is who they should aspire to be? We are not inspiring good mental health in the next generation, that’s for sure.

I think certain face and body types are always going to be more aesthetically-appealing to the masses and it’s not even that I’m an advocate for eradicating that, it’s just that you’ve got to ask: being ridiculously good looking does what for the planet? Sure, humans are like art: no two pieces are the same and each has something interesting to cast an eye upon, but beyond that…we’ve got serious issues that need addressing right now – as soon as possible – so we need to be praising the great minds behind the faces; the important stuff.

If I have a kid one day, or a niece or nephew, I want him or her to see kind, selfless, smart souls on the TV or in their magazines; not some self-absorbed, narcissistic so-and-so that has little appeal other than their looks. We can only be the best version of ourselves, but at the end of the day will always be just that: ourselves. So with that as a universal truth, please, for the love of God let’s shift our idols to those with good hearts and souls; give the underdogs a chance to shine.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Photos: Stephanie Lepoint @ Flickr & Southbank Centre @ Flickr

Imagine if when you read tomorrow’s headlines, they filled your heart with joy and head with hope. Whilst I don’t strive for a society that tries to suppress the things that are wrong with it: the people dying, rainforests being destroyed, mass hunger and desertification occurring all because of a power  imbalance; I do strive for one where the good that is happening in the world gets the attention.

We all know how much is wrong and painful and polluting, but this perpetuates power to those that don’t deserve it.  Why aren’t the great minds of the world that are shaping a more sustainable future grabbing the media’s attention? Why aren’t the good deeds being done by everyday people that can inspire change in the masses being shined in the brightest of lights? Unfortunately the answer is that we live in a cleverly operated world where a select few dominate the news media that bombard us on a daily basis. From the TV we watch while we eat our breakfast, to the radio we blast whilst we drive to work, to the newspapers that litter the floodlit train stations we wait at, to the trailers we sit through before our film of choice commences and the billboards we pass every day, the stories being projectile vomited out to us en masse are carefully tailored to paint a particular picture and instil a certain state of mind.

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I’m not trying to hide 1984 between the lines and encourage the onset of ‘doom and gloom’ mentality for you; rather I’m reminding you that what you read/hear/see in the news every day is not the full story. Nor does it serve your wellbeing the majority of the time.

Educating yourself in whatever it is that you’re interested in is undoubtedly the best way to live. If you have a passion for literature or language, physics or engineering, study those things and make yourself an expert. Learn about and live the essence of that which makes you happy. I would much prefer to see a world filled with experts of all niches teaching each other about their passions and creating beauty than a world of individuals operating out of a place of fear because they cannot cope with another horrific news story. All these people want to do is numb themselves and escape reality, rather than face it head on experience all the incredible things awaiting them.

If you proclaim that you don’t read the news, you’ll be met with a mixed-bag reaction of those who are advocates and look down upon you as a seemingly ignorant soul, or you’ll be met with support by those who also know that it isn’t beneficial to your mental health.

A little research into underground news media can spark a worldview entirely different from that which you would gauge whilst immersing yourself in anything mainstream. Sometimes this can lead you on an even darker downward spiral as you learn of uncomfortable truths, other times you can have your eyes opened to a glimmer of hope that you might not have previously seen.  Either way, educate yourself in those subjects that your gut instinct prompts you to delve into. And dedicate your time to those things that make you a positive asset to society. A group of scared souls is much easier to manipulate than those flourishing at their highest vibration.