When are people going to realise that they cannot blame the media for the ills of society?!?
Why is this so? This is because the media only produces what sells. The media only sells what people want to read. If mass media produced stuff that people were not interested in reading, would not fork out money or attention to it, they would not be the powerful propaganda machine society seems to fear them to be. We always hear about the media doing this evil, the media doing that evil… But how many people remember that they are this successful propaganda machine because SOCIETY pays them to be like this?
What I can see is this. In the UK, ‘left-wingers’ read The Guardian, and ‘right-wingers’ read the Telegraph. Both sides prefer to read views that reinforce their existing opinion, through the psychological filter many refer to as ‘confirmation bias’. Their respective media outlets pick up on this affinity for devouring rhetorical material, and like any savvy business, they feed their customers more of what they want. They churn out more polemic, in ever stronger and more emotionally powerful tones, to meet the demand the growing emotional hunger of the public. The consequence of this is that we have a positive feedback loop that pushes public opinion to extremes. People rarely care for evidence that contradicts their beliefs. People rarely care to pause and consider counter-arguments fairly when their emotionally-invested positions are challenged. Reason, evidence, rationale all go out the window in this self-reinforcing loop of self-affirmation. When someone throws out an argument that supports your position, no matter how tenuous, we tend to readily embrace it despite the complete lack of evidence. It is something society is addicted to. And you can hardly blame the media for this – for the media is inextricably integrated with society. You cannot blame them as if they are an entity separate from society – not only are they businesses only giving you what you want, the journalists responsible for the content are also an integral part of society.
So clearly, the problem lies with society.
What is the solution? Doubt everything you read. Try to take the opposite position to what you hear people say, even if it’s a position you agree with. If you’re a socialist, try to understand what Telegraph articles are saying and try to be sceptical of what the Guardian tells you. If you’re a Tory, be generous toward Guardian articles and be critical of what the Telegraph reports. Be a contrarian. Stick your head above the parapet. You will be shot down. You will be hated. Most reasonable people realise this, and so they keep their heads down. They don’t want to be hated. And I don’t blame them.
Unless you have a balanced perspective, society will continue to polarise. Extremism arises. The voice of the moderates who keep their head down for the sake of self-preservation will save themselves, but their collective lack of effort will spell the doom of civilisation. It has happened before. It will happen again. History repeats itself.