I’m not educated in the realm of psychology, but I try and observe the socio-political effects of everything I experience. I’d like to express my appreciation to Imagine 2050 for providing an avenue by which to share these observations.
I understand that society is heavily influenced by the media it produces. We are products of our environment and there’s no broader environment than the one delivered through radio, television, and print. Media gives us the ability to communicate to audiences beyond personal interaction. Thus, in wake of this age of evolution, our world is given an opportunity to transform the way society develops.
It seems for as long as media has been around it has been manipulated by a system failing to consciously respect its power. Ever since the business gained a hold of the signal, the conversation has been manufactured. My concern is that video news media outlets are unknowingly destroying journalism and having a tremendous effect on the collective psyche.
Video news can connect with an audience on a very personal level in the persuasive tones newscasters use to report a story. Newscasts are laden with vocal undertones that steer the viewer’s emotions, cuing them when to feel ‘what’ (upset, happy, sad, etc). This method of reporting is learned and generally accepted as truth because of the emotional charge.
I don’t care to argue over which news is truth. My observation is about emotionally steering society.
It’s rare to have discussions about the desired progress of our species, on an individual, group, or holistic level, and touch on current events without substantial regurgitation from television news programs or some follow-up commentary. From children to adults, responses about the news tend to echo each other in some way. This signals direct influence from the programming our society depends on to keep in tune with the world around them.
I’m certain the US experiences these effects in a unique way. In my experience, American’s concerns are mainly financial, and when making ends meet is your focus, actively seeking out a broader perspective is low in priority, especially when provided a credible take from the same programming most of your peers are watching.
On a recent trip out of the country, I witnessed a sharp difference in the way the newscast was presented. Less emphasis was put on the emotional charge of the events being highlighted. This approach seems to encourage open dialogue about the occurrences and leaves the viewer to interpret their own experiences.
This observation comes after a wave of coverage about recent tragedies at the hand of a depressed gunman. In no way are my intentions to patronize the victims or their afflicted in these cases. I am posing a discussion about the situation overall; when despair hits so hard that it manifests in the form of recurring and perpetual chaos, what conscious effort can be made by society as a whole to transform the discussion into one that produces the counter effect?
Unfortunately, the business is still invested in news media and important stories are determined by sensationalism. Ratings are not hurting and so the news will not change. But I come to realize that everything is changing. Media itself is evolving.
At a recent panel discussion I attended, information dispelled from guests representing outlets both classic and innovative shows that in spite of the declining employment rate in journalism, with publications laying off more than half of their staff, the necessity for public social documentation is just as strong as ever, and the tools available are empowering some breakthrough start-ups.
Also, we are now given a huge opportunity to filter our news on an individual basis, choosing what we pay attention to and impacting our psyche firsthand.
What’s more, we don’t have to settle for anyone’s opinion. We can instead distribute our own, contributing to what should only be a discussion geared towards a better inclusive future.
See? Even I can do it!