Summary Up Front …
Don’t blame social media for the world of confusion we live in today.
People lie. People have agendas.
It’s been that way. Forever.
‘Social media’ simply amplifies the original messages, most of which come from media moguls that seek to divide humanity.
The question is ‘why’?
It’s 1948. Do You Know Where Your Ideas Come From?
It’s said that George Orwell called his important social commentary 1984 because it was published in 1948, and he simply inverted the last two numbers to create the ominous date in the future when the Ministry of Truth existed.
1948 is also the year in which cable TV in the US was launched.
The evolution of cable TV went from what I would call ‘media shortage’ (ie. very few options) to the one of abundance that we all know today.
With shortage, came scrutiny, so truth was held in the highest esteem.
With abundance, came opinion, so truth was an inconvenience impeding agenda.
Another important date: June 1, 1980.
This is when the Cable News Network (CNN) started. It was the world’s first 24-hour news network.
We went from a world of scarcity to abundance.
The same thing happened with radio.
As a sidebar, radio became fundamentally important to the evolution of abundant media and viewpoints, primarily because the 20th century North American spent a vast amount of time in their car commuting from one point to another (in more ways than one, I suppose). Motown Music thrived on the demand for short, entertaining tunes for people to absorb on their way to and from work.
In 1949, American had the Fairness Doctrine. It was a requirement that audiences be exposed to a diversity of viewpoints.
My guess is that it was introduced because MANY people did NOT want to fall victim to propaganda, aka the scale that we saw from Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler.
Sadly, the Fairness Doctrine was terminated in 1987 by Ronald Reagan. I personally believe his action was due to political pressure from religious institutions and figures like the Christian Coalition that didn’t want to share their networks with homosexual or other ‘left-wing’ opinions.
From that point on, truth became fiction.
More appropriately, opinion.
It’s the New Millennium. Have You Put Your ‘I’ in Opinion Yet?
From the 1980s to today, it wasn’t the ‘left-wing media’ that was scooping up channels and broadcasters, consolidating multiple voices into a single, constant drone of agenda.
It was people like Rupert Murdoch, the Cox Family, Bloomberg and a small collection of billionaires and now private equity funds that control the language and conversation coming out mainstream media.
Up to yesterday, media companies have been consolidating ownership while making every effort to appear diversified – you can see every demographic (kind of), every slice of ethnicity (kind of), every interest, hobby, challenge and more on TV, radio, magazines, and other media formats.
All sharing opinion, if they share anything at all.
Stirring the pot.
Remember that the infrastructure was all in place PRE-INTERNET.
BLBC: Memoir of the Death of Truth
If you’re still with me …
There’s something about this story that I’d like to explore: the death of truth.
For me, the 80s was my ‘growing up’ time (I use that in quotes for a reason).
By 1985, I was 17 and wild.
BLBC proved to be the perfect manifesto and fit neatly into my back pocket for casual reading, quotes and inspiration.
I glossed over the miserable parts and zeroed in on the fun. What 17 year-old wouldn’t?
In BLBC, the main character is Jamie Conway, a fact checker with a pretend magazine that resembles The New Yorker magazine. The book follows his ‘Hero’s Journey’ quest with his friend (and Trickster personality) Tad Allagash as they consume lots of cocaine, spend stupid money they don’t have and chase women at late-night parties.
Jamie’s rejection of the core creed of the magazine – truth, no matter how irrelevant it is to him in the moment – signifies a critically important turning point and possibly unintentional observation about the direction of society in general through the 1980s and we entered a new age.
In fact, Jamie spend part of the book avoiding the truth from his brother Michael and his mother that died a few years earlier in the story.
Avoidance of truth.
We begat the era of ‘abundance of questionable information’.
You see, for me, this represents a perfect coalescence of different things into a central idea. McInerney was simply reflecting on the zeitgeist in a way that I don’t think he could have even imagined. Rules were changing, media was being consolidated, opinions were designed to fragment the truth into a billion splinters of idea-oriented obsession.
After many discussions with people about how social media is NOT to blame for our current state of confusion about ‘what is true’, I feel like I have finally found the initial sparks that identify when TRUTH became OPINION.
Social media – again, owned by a handful of media moguls – simply amplifies the intellectual miasma and pollution that chokes us all before we can even talk.
In fact, the most obtuse and frustrating discussions have gone well into the ‘dark web’ to avoid mainstream censorship and criticism. I won’t mention those platforms here because I don’t like ‘promoting’ them.
That said, in an ideal world, I still believe (yes, my opinion) that social media channels and broader dissemination of TRUE FACTS are possible outcomes in the digital age. These tools will help us all shed light on truth and people would be able to identify ways to sidestep the filters.
Maybe we’ll even start doing the proper thing and focus on issues that are genuine as opposed to just ‘information grenades’ that keep getting tossed into the realm of public discussion.
Time will tell.
It’s 2022: Do You Know What’s Going On?
A key word that I used in all of this exploration is ‘zeitgeist’.
The simple definition is ‘the defining spirit or mood of a period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of that time.’
Bright Lights, Big City captures the zeitgeist of media reform and rejection of truth during the 1980s.
Back in 2008, I wrote a fictional novel and actually withheld publishing it because the fiction that I wrote anticipated and predicted the financial crash of 2008. It kind of freaked me out, so I withdrew from that process. I may go back there one day if my ‘spidey senses’ tingle in this respect.
Similarly, I’m writing music now and I intend to publish a collection of songs that reflect – to an extent – on my experience and interpretation of life during the pandemic. This WILL happen. Soon. I promise.
Themes will include the Hero’s Journey, isolation, addiction, rejuvenation and epiphanies that relate to ourselves and our planet.
The question to you is what are you doing to be ‘in tune’ with the zeitgeist? It’s not enough to just read the headlines. How are you interpreting them for yourself, your friends and your family? How are you acting on potential opportunities? What actions can you see evolving that will make the world a better place?
Furthermore, what stories are being told today that seem to encapsulate what’s going to happen in our near future?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Please note that I do not tolerate intolerance and unkind comments will be deleted 🙂