There have been many reasons for the decline of quality by the media. But part of the problem may have to do with the meme called the “myth of the liberal media”. This meme originated decades ago with right wing talk radio and has ever since been a mainstay of right leaning propagandists. According to the “myth of the liberal media”, the media is entirely controlled by secular liberal interests and always fails to present any other point of view except its own. It is therefore disreputable and should not be trusted.
The idea of the “myth of the liberal media” is important because it has been successful in sowing suspicion on the right, but moreover it seems to have created a sufficient stigma within the media itself to cause them to go out of their way to show both sides to a story. For example: on day when thousands of people protested in the streets, news coverage would inevitably include equal time to cover a group of a few dozen people with opposing views. I’ve literally seen this happen. And the need to show both sides in many ways has resulted in facts being obscured in favor of just showing alternative opinions. Although this phenomenon predates this election, this was exactly the type of foothold that Trump needed to be legitimized as a candidate. “Alternative facts” anyone?
Trump’s accusation that mainstream media was “fake” news may have led many to seek alternative sources of information and become consumers themselves of actual “FAKE” news which was conveniently found on major social media platforms.
And at least part of Trump’s success can be linked to the help of numerous propagandists with various alt-right credentials who played a major role in actually creating “FAKE” news. These groups busied themselves, in manufacturing fake stories and rumors about Clinton, at the same time that they lauded Trump.
Take for example, the Patriot News Agency, which originates in the UK run by James Dowson a Christian nationalist and fan of Trump and Putin. It’s landing page reads more like the National Enquirer than a serious news source. It is sensationalism in its purest form, blatant in its disregard for the facts and spurious in its attempt shock and make people believe the worst.
Sadly, this reflects badly not just on the propagandists but also the mental state of the general population. We have come to believe the worst about humanity and especially about politicians. Some of us may have become suspicious about the mainstream media and at the same time we seem to have lost the ability to read critically. And many of us may be just too lazy to seek out our own news sources so we have come to believe whatever comes easily comes our way. And a recent pew survey found that 62% of respondents stated that they got most of their news from social media.
Part 1: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
It’s All Your Fault! And why it isn’t
By Dean Heagle
In writing on the subject of the 2016 presidential election, I found that exploring any one topic, consistently shed light on more and more details. Gladly, the passage of time has helped solidify and expand these ideas. Thus, what was originally intended as a short article has become a four part series, replete with sidebars and additional analysis.
The unlikely election of president Trump was made possible in part because over 41.5% of the eligible population just couldn’t be bothered enough to vote. They couldn’t find time, or worse, they just didn’t care whether Trump or Clinton would be president. They somehow believed the outcome would not affect them at all.
Apathy and indifference were in full play this election season. What was not in short supply was an abundance of snark, cheap jokes and denial. Many just threw up their hands. We couldn’t believe that both candidates seemed so flawed. Many feared the hell out of Trump who they saw as reckless and egotistical, but many also, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t stand the thought of a Clinton presidency. Contrary to creating excitement, this was the election that made people want to put their heads in the sand.
Voter turnout in the U.S. is ranked at 31st out of 35 developed countries tracked by Pew Research. People have many excuses for not voting. It’s true that having elections on Tuesdays is antiquated and inconvenient. Long lines at the polls and confusion about polling locations are contributing factors that make it more difficult to vote. But perhaps the biggest reason that people don’t vote is because they are apathetic and indifferent. One reason for this apathy is that many people don’t see meaningful differences between the candidates. Many people suppose that all politicians are crooked. And many people live in denial and believe that it really doesn’t matter who controls their government.
Many of us seem to walk around in a haze. And we are always in a rush. We are always busy, working, relaxing, getting and spending. We choose from thousands of songs and channels on a variety of devices. And the smart phone is always with us, always begging us to touch it. We have hundreds of “friends” on our social networks and yet we may feel more alienated from each other than ever before. And this goes on relentlessly each and every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a night with presidential debates or even the day of the election. The constant drumbeat of working, rushing and pursuit of entertainment never gives us a break or a moment to stop and think.
COMFORTABLY NUMB It’s an understatement to say that Americans tend away from civic-mindedness. We have become comfortably numb in how we view our government. Most of us expect the government to keep rolling along without us. It’s viewed as something outside of our control, something we probably complain about or might even be the brunt of our jokes, but something we believe we have little effect upon. And perhaps even more importantly, we feel that government only affects us in superficial ways. That no matter who is in charge, that our lives will go on about the same.
There is little in our culture which leads us to be involved or even interested in politics. We have been trained to be good consumers. Every corporation makes use of every media to constantly compete for our eyeballs. It’s hard to pay attention to the presidential debate when simultaneously there is so much else competing for our attention. We have become entertainment junkies. Politics does not fit neatly into our worldviews. And voting and serving on a jury might be the only civic obligations that we will even consider. And at the same time, we will often do anything to avoid jury duty. And as for voting? We will get around to voting that if we can spare the time.
FROM HERE TO THERE EVENTUALLY The capitalist orientation where the majority of activity revolves around getting and spending allows little time for other pursuits or activities. Individuals slog along trying to make the best of their circumstances but feel alienated from their communities. They may see wrongs and injustices in the world, but they feel powerless to bring about change. And this mindset creates apathy and a feeling of helplessness. It’s as if the system were designed to intentionally keep the average person down.
This helps explain why so many Americans are apathetic about politics. But moreover, it’s that the political sphere does not fit neatly into the rest of American culture. While some may give money to their favored candidates, far fewer take the additional step of volunteering their time. We are not motivated or trained to do the grunt work that is really needed. But right now what we need is more boots on the ground.
The unlikely event of a Trump presidency took place in the environment of apathy and indifference by a populace that felt powerless. But imagine for a moment, even a slight shift in our cultural priorities. Imagine a new awareness where civic-mindedness and politics not only really mattered, but could be molded and directed even by average citizens. Imagine an electorate that was empowered by a much higher level of community involvement. And if this was the case, elections and even the candidates would be much different.
If more people were involved in their communities, it would cumulatively benefit the nation as a whole. Then, it’s hard to imagine the level of apathy and indifference which made this last election possible. And it would be hard to believe that someone as unsuitable as Trump would ever be elected again, simply because the general population would be so much more aware and engaged. There would be so many other better candidates. And another Trump wouldn’t stand a chance.
LINKS: (Part 1 of 4) YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR ——————————————————————–
Just got the batteries I ordered from Amazon. I’ll admit that I was a little worried that they’d arrive damaged.
But Amazon had my back and provided lots of extra cushioning. This is why I love Amazon, it puts extra effort and thought into how every order is packaged. I hate getting imperfect batteries.
Who cares if I have to throw away a lot of plastic. It’s really important to me that the batteries I ordered arrive without a scratch. These are for my son’s watch. And among the values I am trying to teach him is the importance oÂ being on time. And Amazon is a good role model. I got these batteries with 2 day delivery.
I love Amazon because they put the customer first. Why do you love Amazon?
=======================================================COMING NEXT WEEK: Election 2016 Analysis
It’s All Your Fault! And why it isn’t. PART 1: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR By Dean Heagle
We got the kid’s vitamins. They arrived in great shape. I’m so glad that I buy from Amazon. (actually I’d buy from brick and mortar stores, but they seem to be disappearing lately)(huh?)
Maybe the brick and mortar stores are disappearing because they don’t go to such lengths to protect their products. I doubt that the person who packs the truck full of vitamins for delivery to the brick and mortar stores, bothers to package each bottle so thoughtfully. Don’t they care?
You can understand that I want my kids to be healthy and for their vitamins to arrive in tip-top shape. I think the price of filling up landfills with large amounts of stuff that won’t biodegrade is totally worth it. And I’m totally OK that it takes lots of energy and chemicals to produce the stuff I just throw away. Isn’t my kid’s healthÂ worth that?
Often my local supermarket sells strawberries at two for $5.00 (or $2.50 each) The catch is that, almost always, half of the strawberries are rotten.
So you’re really paying $5.00 for just one package, which is not really a bargain considering you have to sort through and dispose of half of what you just bought.
From a production and resources viewpoint, half of the production simply becomes garbage. The garbage (rotten fruit) has to be shipped from grower to retailer. The retailer has to pay someone to stock the garbage (rotten fruit) on the shelf. And the consumer has to dispose of the garbage (rotten fruit). And the taxpayer has to pay someone to take the garbage away.
So my question is this: By what economic theory does this circumstance of production, distribution and resale make any sense at all? Why does this same scenario play out at least 10 times a year at my local supermarket? (and not just with strawberries, but with lots of other items “on sale.” And why do I still keep thinking that I’m getting a bargain?