Has anyone else noticed how reactionary the world has become? Is it me as I get older? There seems to be people ands groups taking offence to anything. I could easily give rise to the impression that the world is spiralling downward and actually getting worse. People in panic, people in deep sorry, people in outrage. This in turn creates reaction in others. In order to identify or feel part of the larger picture people allow themselves to fit in they allow themselves to feel [insert emotional reaction as appropriate]. Millennials seeking job satisfaction and ‘not only for profit’ companies.
And I use the word ‘allow’ to indicate that, more and more, people are using (and being asked to use) their emotions to lead rather than to gauge. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the visual media. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and I believe this to be true. How images are used is another thing.
Advertisers have know this for some time. They know that an emotion evoking, well staged image will generate reaction and so deliver for their client in the form of increased revenue. Why else would it be such a lucrative industry? With the advent of TV commercials came ‘story telling’. Again, the more emotive the better. And why visual media? Because visuals cut straight through our faculty of critical evaluation and tap straight in to our emotional response centre of the brain, the amygdala. Once there it can germinate and grow.
“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”
Scared yet? You should be. Here’s a man whose ideology has lead to the deaths of millions (Dyadkin estimated that the USSR suffered 56 to 62 million “unnatural deaths” during that period, with 34 to 49 million directly linked to Stalin.) or to put it another way anyone watching Super Bowl (111.3 million viewers) dropping dead. Why do think advertisers 1) pay so much for such a prime spot 2) work so hard to make ‘the best Super Bowl ad? Of the Top 10 most viewed programmes in the U.S., how many are educational or beneficial to the viewer? How many evoke fear, how many evoke sorrow? Don’t get me started on ‘the news’ or even now ‘the fake news’. People up in arms about ‘fake news’? For doing what ‘the news’ does because people don’t critically evaluate their news source?
It seems that according to certain reports watching TV causes mild depression. So why would people invest so much time in something that has a negative return on investment? Our ego’s desire to chase and recreate sensations. The more time we invest, the bigger ‘the hit’ required and the more debauched the storyline. Yet, paradoxically, the world is searching for meaning, joy and the positive experiences.
What can we do?
For all our lives we have been fed information with evaluating its source. We ‘trust’ that what we’re told is correct from people in positions of authority; parents, teachers or bosses as we go through life). The first thing I recommend is a media fast. When this wonderful tool we have, the mind, is unused, it stagnates and becomes dull.
- STOP! Question your desire to watch television. What do you get out of it? How much time do you spend watching it? I’m not looking to demonise T.V. here, I watch about an hour an evening to unwind and distract myself. I watch The Big Bang Theory for a laugh (and sometimes to research what they’re talking about!). Sitting around the T.V. ‘as a family’ IS NOT family time.
- BE AWARE: As you watch T.V. how are you feeling? My wife watches Greys Anatomy (or the crying show as I call it). I have never seen a more insidious show for making people feel bad about a) going in to hospital or b) having relationships.
- UNDERSTAND: as soon as you see something through a screen, there is a disconnect and desensitising of the reasoning faculty of our minds. When we are fed our information we stop critically analysing and fall prey to WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is). Meaning that you just accept what you see as true and there becomes little difference between what you see on the telly and real life.
- REPLACE: nature abhors a vacuum. If you’re going to pull away from mainstream media then have something to fill its place (the applies to dieting too!) There is no shortage of thought provoking literature, art classes, gyms or parks for you to occupy your time with.
These actions are not temporary, they are required to be absorbed in to your life and become part of your lifestyle for lasting change. It is derailing bad habits to go on to a better track.
A sense of fulfilment
On a final note about living a fulfilled life, let me ask you this question. If I were to offer you an around-the-world trip with expenses but only on the condition that when you came back you would be given a potion that would wipe any memory of that holiday, would you still take it?
In order to live deeply fulfilling lives we must immerse ourselves in our ‘experience selves’. When we try to video, take selfies or photograph events, we miss them and when we look back there is a disconnect, no emotional response from our amygdala because we tried to experience it through a screen. Take a couple of pictures and/or a video and then PUT IT AWAY! The experience you want CANNOT be captured and replayed on a device. You cannot re-experience something you didn’t experience in the first place.
Footnote: The phrase ‘to be led by the nose’ refers to animals being led around by a nose-ring. The nose being one of the most sensitive parts of the body makes it easy to do as is being led around by your emotions. The most intensive work in personal development is self mastery and not everyone wants to do it because it mean responsibility. Following on from that I would say that wearing your heart on your sleeve is a form of laziness. It is expecting others to treat you softly so that you don’t have to do the work.