Whoever controls the media controls the mind.
Media has long been extending its reach and molding popular thought and opinion like a puppet show master. It’s what shapes our culture.
Travel back to the early 1700’s. Ben Franklin, the prudent and industrious prince of America, was rising in the New World as the first ever media conglomerate. After gaining control of America’s postal delivery system he harnessed the proper tools to mend the minds of pre-revolutionary America; a newspaper and distribution. Ben Franklin is the embodiment of the American dream, the self-made man. Opportunity instead of aristocracy. He spent his life metaphorically sharing his story of rags to riches with the American middle class. His thoughts and opinions projected out to Colonial America and changed the flow of their blood. By the dusk of his life he had started a revolution. It would be fair to say that there is not one man more responsible for the idealism inherent within American values than Ben Franklin. And he did so by luring the thoughts and opinions of America’s people- through the media.
“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that is an alibi for my ignorance.” – Will Rogers
How did Napoleon conquer Europe? Other than sheer numbers and military strategy, he was an expert propagandist. He used media to portray him as a worthy and honorable leader. He also used art to influence people; when in reality he rode a sure footed mule he would order paintings be made of him on a beautiful white-stallion, leading the charge in to battle. He also created a newspaper that would never print a negative word about the man, but would never fail to exaggerate successes.
“If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain, do you also believe that television shows are made inside your television set?”- Warren Ellis
The Golden-Age of journalism— Newspapers and magazines flooded households around the world. The masses would essentially read the same words. Conversations on the streets would grow around the front page daily news. Media grew large and paraded down the streets as if it were a shepherd guiding the people- it’s sheep. Advertisements would speak to stereotypes. It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced and photoshopped world very dangerous. We huddled around transistor radios to hear about World War II, sporting events and the draft for Viet-nam. Then television grew. We watched Walter Cronkite look us in the eye and tell us JFK had been assassinated. We watched the Gulf-War on CNN, Princess Diana’s car wreck in Paris and the 9/11 attack on America. Today television news is filled with mass shootings in the west and suicide bombings in the east. It’s filled with murders and accidents, sports and weather. We sit on our couches, eyes covered with a glaze, taking it all in, conforming.
Thanks to the internet we can pick and choose our news sources. Where and what we want to hear. What’s not apparent in the content that reaches us is the geographic perspective, the objective of the journalist or institutional affiliations. Our minds are shaped by media that may omit, select biased stories and sources, or spin stories with subjective interpretation. We can read tabloids about celebrities and weird news or we can read inspirational pieces or notes on success. And behind each story we read is a hidden objective.
Social media allows us to get candid endorsement from those we know rather than from those of faceless media outlets. We can take social media and share our thoughts and opinions as we desire. We can post what content we want others to notice, those personalized things that are important to us.
“Social media is addictive precisely because it gives us something which the real world lacks: it give us immediacy, direction, a sense of clarity and value as an individual.”- David Amerland