Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday's Saturday's Op-Ed

I first heard whisperings of Michael Jackson's passing via text message. My first reaction was incredulity because rumors of people's death have been greatly exaggerated before. My next thought was that if there was even a sliver of truth lining the rumor, Michael Jackson was pulling a Niccolo Machiaveli. I mean, why wouldn't he? As much as people seem to crave the spotlight, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that public adulation is inhumane.

In today's American society, public adulation means that people myopically view someone as a commodity. It can also dangerously leave the "object of adulation" confused, disorientated, abandoned and starved in a myriad of ways- including emotionally and psychologically. Once the mass media trains its lighted magnifying glass on someone the resulting fire is likely to rage out of control. Malcolm X said it best when he said the following about the power of the mass media: "They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent; and that's power because they control the minds of the masses."

Today, we are more connected to the mass media than ever before. The advent of "smart phones," and other technological advances makes this possible. I'm realizing how much we allow the mass media to shape our reality. The fact that I don't watch television or buy newspapers [SIDEBAR: I do get internet news] and rarely listen to the radio anymore means that certain occurrences seem less "real" to me than it did when I constantly watched television and listened to the radio. The media shapes and influences not only our perceptions and sense of "reality," but our emotions too. As Malcolm X profoundly alluded, this is truly dangerous! We must ask not only who is doing our thinking for us, but also who is manipulating our emotions. Emotions are powerful because it is usually someone's emotions that make them committedly "buy in" to a way of life, particular actions, or a belief system. This is the power of today's mass media. The media has attempted a coup to preempt our thought processes an instincts.

I must say that the tools of media, in and of itself, does not necessarily have to be detrimental. However, when the intention of the people who control the media revolve around the sinister objective of making more dollars for corporate interests, the stakes are diabolical and destructively high.

As we continue to add more technology to our lives we may be comforted by its convenience and distractions from everyday life. However when using technology, please remember not to allow it to use you.

Lots of love.

Rest in peace to all of our loved ones who have passed on. May we learn from their lives so their deaths have not been in vain.

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