Sunday, February 1, 2015

Media Tricks: You Won't Believe What They're Doing To You!

Let's face it: media is a business. And businesses derive methods of getting money from point A (your pocket) to point B (their pocket). Some businesses may have a greater goal in mind like cleaner technologies, but for the most part their goal is to make a buck--your buck. The main reason most companies market something as better for the environment is because they know it will carry some weight in obtaining your money. Nearly all businesses are the furthest things from charities; they are not out to make the world a better place. Businesses will take every tax break they can find and use any loophole the can recognize to avoid paying more than they have to even at the harm of our cities, states, and country. This often results in the common man paying more taxes. The main goal is increasing income and decreasing cost. Sometimes, this comes in the way of spending some money on lobbying for laws that ultimately reduce their overall or long-term spending. Again, usually at the cost to us. And since the businesses have all the money, they get to decide what we poor people get to see. By doing this, it helps them make even more money through advertising or by encouraging the under-informed masses to vote for policies that help the business yet ultimately hurt themselves.

We have all seen the catch headlines hoping to engage our emotional responses. I hope most people recognize these as fishing for an audience, but given that it seems to work so well, I suppose most people are genuinely curious when they see such headlines. Xkcd made a great comic regarding these headlines as seen below.

Most of the time, I find the headlines to be misleading or the article quite under-developed. This appeal to our emotions is nothing new. The media knows that we are foolish human beings driven more by emotion than logic and so they deliver more emotion than anything else to spark a reaction and to promote them for free. And this is nothing new as we can see from a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip from 1995.

In his book Trust Me I'm Lying, Ryan Holiday explains how he had fooled the public time and time again via outrage and emotion. Even bad publicity is good publicity since it gets the word out about something. The point is that emotion sells. And it sells really well in news which is then quite rapidly shared all throughout the internet via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whatever else that people find themselves inundated with a hideous headline. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote in his own blog about the phenomenon and labeled it "outragism" while hoping to make it stink so that people cut this crap out. It is indeed truly disgusting but it seems few people recognize it and abstain from partaking of the behavior. Lucky Cow is currently running its own series of the stupidity and greed of America complete with foolish outragism over simply trying to make someone feel welcomed.

The tiniest acts are often blown out of proportion into a huge stinking pile of ridiculousness. Michael Moore made some comments that could be taken offensively to some who are more pro-war than he, and suddenly the nation erupts into a heinous beast trying to knock him down at every turn. Meanwhile, women are being subjugated and killed for driving or writing poetry in Saudi Arabia. That, of course, is not nearly as fun to be outraged about.

Similar to the lucky cow comic, a Florida school principal once told kids to go home who were wearing American flags on their shirts. Of course, the reasoning behind it was entirely lost because the media wanted to outrage Americans to make more money. The kids were bullying Mexican kids and being belligerent toward their culture and this is why they were asked to go home. It had nothing to do with American flags and everything to do with tolerance versus hatred, bigotry, and racism.

And yet, what does the media do after supporting racism? It denounces everything that is not racism as if it is. If a cop shoots a black man, this is suddenly racism and damn everyone else who says otherwise. The entire nation gets up in arms and creates slogans about this presumed racism and ignores the real evils occurring right before their faces. I do recognize, of course, that some people are racists and that there is a dynamic problem regarding race, but that does not make any of these individual account racist acts nor does it demonstrate the overall evil of an entire group of people known as the police. It is ridiculous to me how people were so easily indoctrinated into the political correctness of not indicting an entire race of people yet missing the point entirely that it should apply to any group.

Americans love to promote America as the best country in the world but I would love if they would learn an ounce of humility. Nobody likes people who constantly talk about how great they are. And if you belonged to some other social club like Mensa, no one is going to want to hear you gloating about how much smarter you are than everyone else. Such people are foolish and disgusting. And that is what America has become.

To paraphrase and re-purpose a quote from George Bernard Shaw, Americans have turned into "selfish clods of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making them happy." They simply want anger, rage, and self-recognition. They want to be fed a diet of pure emotion carrying them from one outrage to the next thinking that they are somehow belonging to something greater. Well, indeed they do belong to something greater: corporate greed. They buy into anything and everything the media sells as hype. It is even better if there is hype on both sides of an argument so that the emotional consumerism can provide a illusion of choice to the ever-washed brains of the masses. We get to choose between being outragist fool A or outragist fool B. This is not going to work in the long-run.

We need people to start standing up for logic and critical thinking as opposed to outragism. We ought to turn our emotions down eleven notches from ten and logically see the world for what it is. We need to see the real disgraces and do something about it rather than posting frantic hate for presumed haters and foolish non-offenses. If we hate haters so much, how about we just stop hating all together and tackle the social problems we face? Hate is not going to solve the problem of haters. It simply creates yet another group of haters to be hated by yet another new group of haters. Let's just look at the facts and make some sound decisions and stop being so outraged by all the outragist media crack we are fed. I am personally quite sick of it. Stop spreading it. And for those who we see spreading it, let's defuse the anger and hatred and have a rational conversation about it. Stop the bullying and stand up against it.

I will leave you with one more cartoonist who seems to recognize the stupidity of the American way: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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