Are You On a Media Junk Food Diet?
Let’s face it. We construct much of our reality through what we see, hear and read in the media.
And these days the media is filled to overflowing with reality this and reality that. Reality TV shows have become de rigueur on the Box at night in many a household. Together with news bulletins that play more like infomercials than news. Followed by current affairs shows that are so blatantly infomercials, that it’s hard to tell where the program ends and the ads begin.
So when it comes to the media, you have to ask yourself, what is reality?
Or as Pontius Pilate put it all those years ago, what is truth?
It’s this profound and sometimes sinister unreality of the media that we so readily consume, that struck me the other day when I was in a TV recording studio …
It was seriously the greenest room I’ve ever been in … and that’s before they turned on those Stalag 17 lights that always have me yearning for the relative comfort and anonimity of my beloved radio studio. (Of course once the video’s been through post production, it’ll look completely different … just like a bought one.)
There I was, standing in that bright green TV studio when it struck me how easy … no, not just how easy … how routine it is in the media to make something appear to be that which it clearly is not.
Whether it be a green screen magically transformed into an upmarket backdrop.
Or an apparent “reality TV show” which is actually a meticulously planned, carefully constructed series of totally artificial events.
Or a newspaper article which purports to give a factual account of events, but which was actually written, for the most part, by the richly remunerated PR agency of a large corporation or powerful lobby group, with the express purpose of surrupticiously having us see their version of reality for their own purposes.
And then this PR piece, with more spin on it than a Shane Warne leg break (apologies to cricketing Luddites) is dished up by a newspaper’s lazy or inexperienced journalists, or by an under-resourced news room (or perhaps both, topped off by an editor focussed squarely on the bottom line) as “fact”; as news(!!) … or as a sensational headline designed more to sell papers, increase circulation and bump up the cost of advertising space in a competitive commercial environment, than it is to keep you and me informed in that great tradition of journalistic impartiality and excellence.
Are there still some reputable journalists out there? Absolutely … but as margins in traditional media are squeezed, they are becoming fewer and farther in between these days.
And in a cut throat commercial media world, whose bottom line is shareholder value plain and simple, sad as it is to say, things aren’t always what they seem.
So, in the context of this reality, here’s my question for you:
Given the role that the media plays in constructing your reality, do you just swallow it all hook, line and sinker without thinking too much about it?
Or do you consume it critically; thoughtfully; selectively.
After all, we are what we eat.
Could it be, quite unwittingly, that we’re on a media junk food diet? And if so – what’s it doing to who we are?
It seems to me that for all his faults, at least Pontius Pilate was asking the right question: What is truth?
By the way … what happened to the green screen?!