The Moronic Media and Mass Psychosis
Why bother writing down anything at all when everything and everywhere about me there is nothing but images? I suppose it’s because it allows me to produce and re-produce my own thoughts. I’m also old enough to be somewhat suspicious of images, either graven or not.
There is a gem of a book written in 1961 by Daniel Boorstin called The Image or what happened to the American Dream. He wrote:
Our discontent begins by finding false villains whom we can accuse of deceiving us. Next we find false heroes whom we expect to liberate us. The hardest, most discomfiting discovery is that each of us must emancipate himself. Though we may suffer from mass illusions, there is no formula for mass disenchantment.
Boorstin talks at length about the “pseudoevents” created by the News Media and techniques of generating attention and interest. He implies that public discourse has devolved into a state which is dominated by illusions created by false images, that as a society we suffer “unwittingly from our own idolatry”. He fears that those images are keeping the population in check at the cost of subverting the principles of a democratically governed People.
The NSA analyzes communication information between individuals and tries to establish patterns that would allow them to predict dangerous activities, while the fixation on a single event like the Zimmerman trial serves to keep the attention on what could be argued was an isolated event -one charged with a long and tainted history of race relations and cultural misunderstandings.
It would be interesting to see the pattern shift in the communication mapping that occurs as different news stories are covered; perhaps they can detect a dangerous shift (for those in power) when news stories of corruption and malfeasance or the questioning of spending priorities are aired. Could the information allow for a wonderful information feedback loop that allows Media moguls to tamp down on potential unrest? It doesn’t take a supercomputer to see the metadata in not the contents of what the News Media cover but in what is not covered or for how long a particular story runs and reruns.
There is a passage from Anthony Everitt’s “The Rise of Rome” where Cicero approvingly attributes to Servius Tullius, the second founder of Rome the key to “taming the revolutionary forces of Democracy”,
[The king] put into effect the principle which ought always be adhered to in the commonwealth, that the greatest number should not have the greatest power…While no one was deprived of the suffrage, the majority of votes was in the hands of those to whom the highest welfare of the State was the most important.
We would seem to be so enthralled (in its etymological meaning) on the reliance of large institutions to tell us what to pay attention to and for how long, that those with whom concern over matters of public policy is “most important” do not have to be overly concerned with the majority of votes. The campaign being waged domestically is not military in nature so much as it is political and cultural. Which is not necessarily the worst condition to be in; I would much rather be subject to the interminably moronic political campaigns conducted on the propaganda air waves than those on the ground in a bloody civil strife as in Syria or other places in much more dire straits. But I would also like to think that there is the potential for living in a more Just society.
Although there is no “formula” for a cure from the Mass Psychosis that is projected in the Moronic Media, a good start in developing one would be a personal regimen that includes less consumption of images and a healthy increase in reading, gardening, riding a bike, or whatever brings balance and health to both self and society.