You're An Idiot - But You Knew That

There are plenty of reasons to treat the news media with disdain, but one thing really gets my ire up: being treated like an idiot. Their techniques for manipulating us are transparent and so far beneath what we deserve that it hurts.

1) TEASERS - make teasers stop

Teasers contain most the information of the story. We hear the story four or five times in one broadcast hour. Suppose beyond keeping us tuned, taking up air time with teasers saves money in that actually gathering news costs dearly. It's insulting. Aren't you insulted?

2) WORDS - get a vocabulary

Since the Catholic Church scandal broke, we've heard the word 'abuse' more or less continually in the news. The story changed to that of Abu Graib but the word continued. It's a good one. Since 9/11, 'terror' and its variants are pervasive. Thankfully, 'anthrax' didn't last that long, but in its heyday, one could hear it 30 times an hour. I counted.
It was actually 'anthrax' that first caught my ear and caused me to focus on what words were being repeated and how often.

What worries me, is the steady diet of fear, ruthlessness, perversion and humiliation some Americans are on. If hearing about it on the news isn't enough, reality TV takes over where the news leaves off. If you must listen to the news, pay attention to the kinds of words that are repeated and make sure those words enter your brain with a grain of salt.


Even the weather is presented in near-incendiary terminology.

The biggest news story I know is that we live in a culture of fear. Why don't I hear much about that on the news? What is it? Whence does it come? What can we do about it? See No. 7 below.


First we ask what we require from the news. We need to know about changes in the law. We need to know the weather. We need to know about criminals operating in our neighborhoods. We need to know what the government and corporations are up to. The Martha Stewart trial was sexy but not so important as to merit as much news coverage as it got.

The voting records of our politicians are important. Where are their records and resumes posted for everyone to see?


It is human nature to rubberneck; we are fascinated with the horrific. But that interest originates in our more base nature. My suggestion to us as a culture is to rise above the lowest common denominator. So long as we succumb to our most base nature we remain in the grip of those who will capitalize on it to keep us glued to the news and commercials.

Crime shows abound. I interviewed a seasoned cop - now director of homeland security for an important part of the country - about the abundance of crime/cop shows, and asked him to say what he imagined the cultural significance of cop shows was. He said that the net result was a population desensitized.

We have been desensitized. As one who has spent much of my life in that state I can tell you it is a dangerously inhuman way in which to live.

Listen to the next news you hear and feel every story on a human level. You will run from the room screaming and weeping.


Research has shown that the human mind is such that hearing a thing enough times, the mind presumes it to be true. Of course, this principle can operate unconsciously, and that is why marketers constantly remind us that their product is 'No. 1' or 'the best'. Without consciousness and diligence, repetition equals truth.

Be careful out there.


Instead of passively watching TV, talk to your loved ones, play games and sing in your houses at night. TV's got us hypnotized and as our brains turn to mush we shudder in fear.

Fuck that.

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