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7-20-05 Media and Traibalism
7-20-05 Media and Traibalism
I spent Monday and Tuesday in Lewistown with a list of unpleasant tasks to complete. I met with a realtor to place my apartment house on the market, and dropped off a key to Gene (One of my tenants) so he can help get one of the apartments rented out. I also paid $150 to the county judge so he would put another of my tenants out on the street if he doesn’t leave within ten days.
People will really take you if you let them. He’s lived rent-free for six months at my expense and made no effort to pay anything. Yet he can afford to drive a nice car and party every night. Just another con-man out to leach off any sucker like me who will give a man the benefit of the doubt.
I met with Jon Mertz and Joe Martin my old Friction buddies. We played a little music but mostly just hung out and talked.
As I write this I am underneath a bridge in a small park in Lewistown. The park sits on the bank of the Juniata River. It is pouring rain. It would be quite nice except on of the park maintenance guys is taking refuge here as well and he doesn’t want to shut off the engine of his extra-big John Deere Lawn-mower tractor. Perhaps he just prefers the sound of a roaring engine to the sounds of nature. Or maybe he just wants to waste some gasoline on the township’s dime. Personally I hate the sound of engines. What a poison we brought into the world.
I sit at a wooden picnic table. Scrawled on it are the works KKK and “I hate niggers.” It makes me feel hopeless. I draw an arrow to the words and write “you are an idiot.”
I had lunch at the local McDonalds. I went inside to eat so it would be easier to put the food on my credit card since cash is in short supply. There are four TVs in the dining area and they are all tuned to Fox News. It’s the kind of thing you could expect in Lewistown.
I see this as social brainwashing. Many people actually see Fox news as ‘fair and balanced.’ After all that’s their slogan so it much be true. What’s funny about this is that Rupert Murdock, the man who founded Fox News, has always been out-in-open that it was designed to present a conservative point-of-view. If anyone needs evidence of this check out the documentary ‘Outfoxed.” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002HDXTQ/qid=1121869042/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-3107878-0649453?v=glance&s=dvd&n=507846
As I sat eating my quarter-pounder and sucking a coca-cola (Classic) I began to wonder what effect the wide range of new media will have on America. It used to be that a lot was said about the media causing homogeneity, but that was during the days when the three networks ruled television.
These days media might be leading society towards a new tribalism. There are hundreds of cable TV channels, internet communities uniting like-minded people around the globe, and radio that fragmented culturally with thousands of stations available on the internet and by satellite. Talk radio is divided between the radical right and with the success of Air America Radio, the far left. Politicians and religious leaders play to the cultural divide.
What concerns me about this is that these social ‘tribes’ seem to developing separate alternative realities that may or may not be completely divorced from the facts of empirical reality. Not only are facts being interpreted with a different slant at some media outlets, some invent facts and distort the truth so much that it truly creates a worldview that is based in a fantasy designed to support an ideology.
Rush Limbaugh tells outrageous lies and Bill O’Reilly invents facts to suit his needs at any moment. Fox News is a bit more subtle, yet still is loose with the facts when they want to be. A look at the talking points memo released by the Republican National Office concerning Carl Rove show that they are promoting statements that can easily be proven to be false.
It is a bit harder to find media controlled by the radical right, but if you search the obscure corners of the internet I feel confident you will find liberals who are just as unscrupulous with the facts as their right-wing counterparts.
It is becoming easier to only have contact with media that reflects one’s tribal bias, and some of these media outlets have a goal of brainwashing the public. This is leading to cults of ideology created through the mainstream media.
The more a person is ensconced in, and limited to media that promotes a particular ideology, the more they can live within their own reality, and perhaps be disconnected from empirical reality. It is like a cult that forces converts to avoid family and friends. Opposing views are always a danger.
Most entertainment appears inert on the surface. Most entertainment purposely avoids politics, religion, and philosophy. (It is my belief that by default inert entertainment upholds the status quo.) This makes it possible for someone to watch an evening of network television without it interfering in an ideology espoused by other more propagandistic media outlets.
Fundamentalism is the easiest ideology to look at because they are the most organizede and effective. Many TV evangelists and Christian radio stations aggressively promote the same ideology as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Also missed by many, is that country music has become filled with right-wing politics. Lyrics often include attacks on the left and carry an attitude that rednecks are the salt-of-the-earth who are better people than those left-wing freaks. One popular song is titled “the Marines sticker on my SUV.” SUVs seem to be a popular issue in country music, as in… I like driving big gas guzzling cars. And I think most of us have heard the “America will kick your ass” brand of country music.
The fundamentalist ideology has a powerful weapon because it can accuse anything that conflicts with its beliefs of being anti-American. The fundamentalists have Christianity so entwined with patriotism that people have a hard time separating the two. The result being that anyone who questions right-wing political beliefs can be accused of immorality. This can be very effective for pressuring mainstream media to avoid criticism of the right.
Often if you talk about politics or social issues with people you find that they have beliefs that seem completely removed from reality. The new media outlets have made it possible for a lie to be told, and reinforced again and again until it is believed by millions of people as gospel truth.
A strange alliance between Christian fundamentalist who want to use the law to enforce their religious beliefs, and corporate leaders and the super-wealthy who want to change government policy to benefit their own kind, has formed an ideology that uses the media to brainwash people into accepting their propaganda.
The main force opposing this is the left-wing-liberals. Unfortunately they seem to be isolated within their own alternative version of reality making them ineffectual when trying to connect with most Americans. The more people tend to ignore media that does not reflect their ideology, the more likely they are to be dogmatic and limited in their understanding of other points-of-view.
Of course, media enhanced tribalism can be based on many things, from Goths to BDSM communities, to sports fans, pet owners, anything in the world. Most of these are not as large and powerful as the two sides of the culture war. But one wonders how large these divides can go thanks to the new media outlets and to what extent people might become brainwashed into believing a particular version of reality.
To some extent reality is something that can be created. Media is a tool to sway the hearts and minds that is more powerful than at any time in the history of humanity.