Does Media Mirror Culture, or Create Culture?

A commentary on media

I’ve (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) noticed that the term ‘woke’ is being tossed around on television lately. Wokeness is a term that refers to the awareness of issues that concern social and racial justice. That is not a bad thing, but is it being taken to the extreme? Even the Toronto real estate board dropping ‘master bedroom’ term and replacing it with the word “primary.” I’ve also noticed Gender-neutral language being used in the media. This is language which avoids a bias towards a particular sex or social gender. For example, mailman is no longer “politically correct,” but mail carrier is. It got me wondering why.  Is this a way to normalize wokeness and gender-neutral language? In researching for an answer, I came across the opinion piece, The Woke Revolution Is Powered by the Elites, which argues that the woke revolution is not a grassroots movement, but instead is powered by well-connected and guilt-ridden elites. Could this be true?

I recall having a discussion in one of my classes. I asked the question: Does media (the internet, magazines, television, motion pictures, etc.) reflect the world we live in, or create the world we live in? Another way to phrase it: Does media mirror culture, or create culture? I remember it being a lively discussion, but I don’t recall if we reached a consensus.

In the article, How Do Movies Impact our Societies, it says:

The power of audiovisuals has been manifested and exploited politically, socially, and economically throughout history. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, for example, successfully used films as propaganda tools during World War II. Facts like these show the raw power of film.

Could movies be used as propaganda tools? On debate.org, the question: Is television brainwashing us? one person says:

What is seen on TV is generally not accepted in society, but the more it’s seen, the more people begin to accept it. Often, this is done through humor or through exaggerated behaviors. As we watch these again and again, we can become desensitized to them–things like violence, swearing, and other behaviors that our grandparents would have raised their eyebrows over.

This makes sense to me. When I was a kid, you never heard swearing on a television screen. Now “F-bombs” are commonplace. Nowadays, graphic murder scenes are normal. This wasn’t the case when I was a kid. Is media desensitizing us, indoctrinating us or brainwashing us? I think so. For many years, I’ve wondered why violence, bullying (#bullying #antibullying), marital infidelity, sexual promiscuity, and selfish behaviours are so prevalent on TV and in movies. Now I realize it is to normalize it; to make people believe they’re normal human behaviours.

When I taught religious education as a teacher, I taught my students that humans were innately good, and I still think that. Humans are naturally altruistic. Psychology Today defines altruism as acting to help someone else at some cost to oneself. This is especially evident when tragedies happen as people never think twice about helping another. Most of us have heard the stories of a stranger running into a burning building to rescue someone. Teaching in a Christian school, I used the Christian scripture Colossians 3:12 to support my argument. It says; “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…

There are many science articles supporting this claim. The Scientific American article, Scientists Probe Human Nature–and Discover We Are Good, After All, sites studies carried out in 2012 which found that a human’s “first impulses are selfless and that we are predisposed to act cooperatively, to help others even when it costs us.” The article, Scientists find evidence that human beings are born with an innate desire to help others, sights studies from Harvard University saying that young children and babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Most TV programs and movies lead us to believe that humans are selfish, yet the Greater Good Science Center has an article titled, The Compassionate Instinct that says:

Compassion and benevolence, this research suggests, are an evolved part of human nature, rooted in our brain and biology, and ready to be cultivated for the greater good.

Studies support my claim that humans are innately good, yet A 2018 new global Ipsos MORI study found that three in four people (76%) on average across 27 countries think society in their country is divided. Most of us agree, the world feels very divided, especially now. The question is: Why?

The article, Divided People Divided Politics Divided Nations: Why is the World so Divided Today? says:

Politicians always used fear and divisions in society to gain votes, there is nothing new to here…Our opinions are being shaped and divided. The cohesive fabric of the society is being torn and divided…If we allow our minds to be programmed by artificial intelligence controlled by vested interests, then it will lead to divisions and strife.

In April of this year, former NBA star Charles Barkley expounded during March Madness that political parties and elites “divide and conquer” Americans in order to “keep their grasp on money and power.” (see Barkley)

Could this be what is happening? Do elites want us divided? Are we mind controlled to be divided? “Divide and conquer” has always been used as a way of distracting and controlling the non-elites. When television and movie productions repeatedly portray humans a selfish, bullies, violent, and racist we begin to believe it. In essence, we are being indoctrinated or brainwashed to think that is normal human behaviour. The truth is the opposite! We humans are innately good, naturally cooperative, and instinctively altruistic. We know this unconsciously when we get out of our head, and move into our hearts.  Or as Albert Einstein puts it; “Don’t let your brain interfere with your heart.” Rumi says:

Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased. Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken. But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.

The late Steve Jobs once said:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs is absolutely right, especially his words; “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”  When we follow our hearts, and not the brain—which is usually filled with indoctrination garbage or dogma—then we become loving, compassionate and benevolent, which is our human nature.  The heart is where love resides, and where our instincts or intuition reside. The bottom line is we are divided, violent, racist, selfish, bullying, because our ego is programmed or indoctrinated by media to be so. The solution is to stop filling our minds with untruths, release false beliefs, and to follow the heart where truth is!

The late English singer-songwriter, George Michael once said:

 “You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”

Author: Sommer season all year

I am a retired school teacher. I taught high school for 35 years.

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