Many people are quick to acknowledge the media as detrimental or, at a bare minimum, accept that certain aspects of the media have the potential to be harmful, but cannot embrace the idea that the media, in its entirety, is purposefully poisonous. In this light, most people regard the media as they regard most things in life – as something neutral consisting of equal amounts of good and bad. Ask people what the media is and they will invariably state that the various forms of media are basically means through which ideas and information are shared, or forums through which opposing viewpoints are presented and debated. Consequently, whatever harm the media causes – such as the current hysteria over fake news – are viewed as side effects rather than purposefully driven objectives.
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Outside sources are not required to reach this conclusion. All it takes is a little time and some rumination on the following questions:
- What is the media?
- What does it do?
- What does it not do?
- What is its true role in society?
- Who and what makes up the media?
- Who and what controls the media?
- What is the end goal of nearly all forms of media?
- What influences have the media had on me? How many of these influences have been postive/negative?
The questions above do not form an exhaustive list, but instead represent a start. If you are so inclined, take an hour or two, go through these questions one by one, and try to answer them as sincerely as possible from the foundations of your own experience and intuition. Your answers are likely to surprise you.
If you are interested in reading on outside source on the subject, I highly recommend Bruce Charlton’s Addicted to Distraction: The Psychological Consequences of the Mass Media, which is the most probing, yet concise elucidation on the subject I have encountered to date. The work is free online if you follow the link above. I urge you to give a read. It might just get you thinking about the purposeful harmfulness of the mass media.