If we actually watch the world closely we’ll see that it’s a much more cooperative place than it’s made out to be. The reason we think it’s worse than it is, is because we process our world via various media. And all media are the same in that they need money to operate, so somewhere along they line they’re beholden to someone.
Those someone’s are almost always advertisers and advertising is an extremely clever business. They spend a lot of time and money on getting human beings to think the thoughts they want them to, so they’re worth paying attention to.
Also note that it’s not just the advertisers. It’s also the medium itself. Because, to a TV network, the show is the filler and the advertisement is the point. The show exists to get you to the ad. And that’s why the world looks so bad.
Human beings will give the most attention to things that makes them frightened, angry, sad, horny or happy because those things drive the act of staying alive. And advertisers and media folks know that.
It’s that logic that explains why –on, for example, the evening news– there will always be that one story near the end where they show you something either sweet or something heroic or something sexual. But the rest of the show will be about fear and things that make you upset because that’s their product.
Whether it’s traditional media or social media, our emotions is what gets us to sit through all of the filler to get to the point: the point where they sell you their customer’s soap.
Despite what we’re told, the news is not the information we need to see and/or hear as a citizen. Since around the time the film Network appeared, the news has become a vehicle to advertise products. Therefore it follows that you will see and/or hear whatever they believe will keep you focused until the ad comes on.
Even more subtly, when the media can, they’ll make the actual show the ad itself –much like kids shows based on toys; or for adults, game shows, cooking shows, home decorating and even talk shows are there to sell everything from furniture to holidays, books and movies. All are excellent excuses for putting the advertising as content.
None of this is to say there’s no value in the news or in cooking or decorating shows. There obviously is value there. But we shouldn’t lose sight of what their real intention is. Because it’s what shapes our world. Their motivation isn’t to make us all better cooks. The motivation is to get us to buy more food and cooking utensils, and that’s a meaningful difference.
Likewise, the news tells us about every scary story it can in the hopes that it’ll help them sell ads for security companies and sleep aids. This means, at every event they attend, the media will intentionally look for the most extreme and shocking people they can find—not because those people are representative of what’s really going on, but because those people will keep us watching until the shampoo ad comes on.
The unfortunate byproduct of selling all of that shampoo is that everyone’s gotten the idea that the world is an ugly place filled with scary people (with dirty hair) and that’s simply not accurate.
Every day a huge number of friendships are made. For everyone hurt in a tragedy there are hundreds of people who respond with compassionate action. People work hard every day keeping others safe or healthy or fed or happy. Soldier’s go into danger to protect people they will never meet. People dedicate time to charities and to look after stray dogs and cats. People help out their neighbours and they hold their friends while they cry.
People are awesome. They’re beautiful and kind and wise. But they’re also scared. Scared to be in the world because of the news, and scared to be themselves because of the ads. We have to get back into the world and out of our fearful mindsets. Because the world is a beautiful place and our participation in it will only serve to make it more beautiful.
So who is with me? Who’s prepared to get to know a co-worker you haven’t spoken to before? Who’s prepared to strike up a friendly, complimentary conversation at the grocery store? Who’s simply prepared to walk down the street and look people in the eye and smile?
The world is a great place. Yes rose bushes have thorns. But they have roses too. So focus on the flowers. If we do that, we’ll soon come to realize that our worries can blind us to the fact that we have always unwittingly lived in the heart of the most beautiful garden imaginable.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.