Well, it is the famous quote from the nostalgic hit show ‘the X-files’. This is not what I’m wanna talk about here, but rather I wanna talk about what I approach in digesting what we heard and read in the mass media. I’m not gonna preach here, rather I would say that I wanna share my view about this topic and maybe my sons would be able to know more how their old man thinks if they choose to read this in future.
Before printing was invented, people can only record well-organized data in writing. Though people back then had more time and less distraction in life to concentrate in writing, what they chose to write were largely the most valuable knowledge that they would like to pass on to others, such as religious texts or history. I doubt we could find a written newspaper back then. News was distributed by words of mouth. Naturally, they could be distorted or were lost easily. Remember the game of passing a message in a chain of people? i.e. message was easily twisted via passing along simply through 3 to 4 people. With the development of printing, not only records can be kept better, they can be spread to a much wider audience in the original form as written by the author. With the advancement of technology along with easier and cheaper access to the technical tools, information in the form of text, audio, visual or even video can now be distributed electronically by anybody in real time to everybody all over the world by few clicks of buttons. Such exponential growth of information, even the most skillful experts who live on information full time find it hard to sort information out, let alone regular folks like us who are mostly part-time casual consumers of information. We just have limited time to consume information that is not related to bread-wining. Somewhat like snacks, there is only so much that we can eat everyday.
Along with analogy above, there are reasons why snacks industry is successful. Snacks are prepared for cheaper, easier access and quicker consumption with controlled quality under certain standardization of production process. Information access is getting similar treatment these days, news broadcasts are subject to rating, newspapers and magazines are subjected to sales, even news sites are subject to hits and ads. With the commercialization of news, it makes sense to ‘news-processors’ to prepare their raw-materials with favors and by their ‘culinary’ skills to make them into consumable sizes. Newscasts have limited in length, news articles are similarly customized with edited content. Journalists are not allowed to report exactly what they see, as media companies have their own commercial, legal and political agendas to comply with. Thus, what news stories are reported, when they are reported, and how they are reported is all ‘processed’. Since many people know that ‘processed foods’ are not healthy and are seeking for ‘organic foods’, why would we be fine with ‘processed information’?
Thank God for internet, at least there are endless distribution channels for individuals to voice out their opinions as well as people who know the truth to tell the world about it. Still, the mass majority of people would still stick to the familiar channels which happened to be the well-managed, most funded and most recognized as their primary source of news. I don’t blame them, there are indeed reasons why all these happen the way they are.
Things are connected
The corporate ‘information processors’ prepared the information in digestible chunks for mass consumption. As such, most people would learn the happening of selected news in sound bites, or through sensational subject titles and carefully selected images. Those selected news meet and are, assumed by the mass media, what most people want and are happy with. Unfortunately, the ‘most people’ includes many young and influential people who are supposed to have critical mind and intelligent to make decisions that would affect our world for current and future. I find it just sad that those people have been ‘stoned’ by such ‘processed info’ for so long that, they just can’t or are uncomfortable to wake up and think. I would say that most of the information and news that we get from the mass media these days are intentionally manipulated to a point that information are made to be perceived as disjointed. Thus, many people cannot see how many events are indeed connected. Even if suspicions of connectivity are raised, it is just hard to see how things are connected. I think that as the mass media are getting more powerful through consolidation in the industry and their growing wealth and power, it is just an intensive and constant tough fight for the truth to come out in the rough sea of information.
Conspiracy has value
Internet is a double-edged sword. It allows truth to come out and be spread, but it allows false information to do the same as well. As such, powerful information brokers have changed their strategy in information manipulation in view of the power of internet. In the pre-internet stage, they basically control the access of information by owning the outlets. Nowadays, they seek to be the ‘loudest’ and most visible one on the internet and meanwhile by creating some ‘shadow characters’ on the internet to discredit those who bring out the truth. In fact, many stories (to be honest, some of them may be actually the truth) which are not reported in mass main-stream media or deviated from the ‘acceptable’ reported stories, are discredited as ‘conspiracies’. Those who raise ‘conspiracies’ are being described as some kinds of introvert ‘wacko’ that are chasing their own shadows. In spite of the fact that, many of those so-called ‘wacko’ or ‘people with offbeat characters’ who are also happened to be scholars and experts of different well-respected institutions. Cuz, conspiracies are not just a weird thoughts, they are usually supported by a matrix of facts or evidence though some of them might be circumstantial. Rather than being raised for discussion and further investigation, conspiracies are being suppressed, discredited and being making fun off by the so-called mainstream. I just don’t think that is right.
Trust no one
Despite saying what I’ve said so far, I don’t mean that all conspiracies are true. However, I just don’t feel comfortable that many people are being manipulated by what they are told. I don’t think we should believe the mass media, nor the conspirators themselves unconditionally. We should exercise our intelligence to expose ourselves to a wider spectrum of information, and try to analyze them to understand how things are connected (aka the karma behind issues) and form our own opinions, rather that being passive accept what we should think. That’s why I would say for young people, with their relatively ample of time, lighter burden of responsibility, and more open-minded in acceptance of ideas, they should be encouraged to learn how to seek out a wider spectrum of news, to digest them against what are being told in the mainstream media, to then analyze them critically to form their own opinion of issues that are happening in our world. I think that has been the way that we have achieved in scientific advancement. In which, nothing is accepted without proof, suspicions are always investigated. Such methodology should be applied in seeking truth in non-scientific information as well.
What really matters
I always believe that human’s spiritual advancement is always lagged behind the developments of most other things such as technology, finances, and political systems. It is part of human nature that people do tell lies, powerful ones are control freaks, and most people put their own self-interests over the others. As such, we should look after our own, don’t just blindly accept what are being told and develop a critical mind to seek out the truth. That’s the only way we can improve ourselves. Without doing that, any perceivable advancement is simply building on mirage, that won’t last. Just use our God-given mind to think critically. Otherwise, we might just be a humanoid with a mind of a sheep, happily cruising our life in herds, what a waste!