Each morning at least one billion people wake up and check their phones before brushing their teeth. Those who check their emails are automatically informed about the latest world affairs, whether they desire to be or not. Immediately they feel despair wash over them as the press inform them of the poor, the sick, the dying, the broke and the dead. Just about every sad event that indicates the demise of our world is shared before their stomachs have anything in it–this is today’s social media influence.
There comes a point where one has to ask: how did we get to living on a diet of fear for breakfast, lunch and dinner knowing it is shaping our thoughts and inevitably, our output? On answering the question, we find there are two guilty parties. One being the media, adept at distributing dark clouds without consequence and then there’s us. We allow this to go on without question sharing and ‘liking’ the bleak data. But the real victims are innocent young minds that misunderstand all this caliginosity who get emotionally charged by the information as well as the poor targets who they attack.
The Journey Here?
The spreading of fear in the guise of information became refined in the US, with the formation of the Associated Press, in 1846, and then the incorporation of the UK’s Press Association in 1868. Today AP’s news is published and republished by more than 1,300 newspapers and broadcasters as they operate 263 news bureaus in 106 countries. This leaves little chance for independent news to get more than a whisper.
It didn’t help that Sigmund Freud’s pestiferous nephew, Edward Bernays, chose journalism as his vocation, leaving his ethics on the back burner while teaching corporations the psychological art of spinning stories. The major outlets colluded to inform us of ‘news’ in such a way that benefits their agenda en masse. Proof of this is self-evident with the mass coverage of the Libyan conflict that led to the murder of Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi in 2011, his sodomisation celebrated as a ‘good news’ story.
In 2014 an 18-year-old African American boy, Michael Brown, was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. This resulted in a chain of protests around the world, local unrest and what seemed to be a ceaseless focus on racism in the police force which, with other similar incidents, spurred the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign. These events told the brutal truth about the dangers young African American boys are subjected to at the hands of those who ‘protect and serve’. The coverage spread organically through social media while the press joined the cause.
The press perspective was to reassure news consumers that change was coming to the police system…at least some accountability.
But change never came. The coverage was hyperbole. On March 4th, 2014 the police officer in the shooting, Darren Brown, was cleared of all charges.
The same year two New York Police Department officers were shot and killed in their car in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Days earlier the suspected gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, posted his intention on Instagram to avenge the killings of Brown and Eric Garner, another African American man slain by the police earlier that year. Did unresolved press-pushed controversy cause people to take matters into their own hands?
If it Bleeds, it Leads.
White supremacists deified Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, and a GoFundMe page supported their hero, the police group even gave him his own day, August the 9th: the anger continued. The lead up to the Donald Trump election in 2016 conveniently kept racism in the forefront of the public’s mind. The media kept up this current with solutions dangling in the air, leaving the readers fixed on the news like athletes waiting on a starter pistol. No such solution ever came.
What did come was Trumps victory in the 2016 Elections. Blundering Trump’s campaign and the soap opera news coverage catapulted him to fame beyond common sense with his George Bush-like diplomacy; the situation was a convenient spin for his victory and a chance to bring the white supremacists out of the closet to vote.
It is interesting to note that the old news maxim ‘If it bleeds it leads’ serves as the mission for major news conglomerates. The statement replaces humanitarianism for plutocracy. It is an actual commitment to controversy as headlines with gory details as the first choice to supersede all other news; to this system the destructive outcome is irrelevant or, with that line of thinking, maybe even useful for sales.
Across the Water
In the last seven years, 900 people have been motivated to leave the UK to join ISIS. I dare say nobody knew what ISIS was until the media made it very, very, clear with video footage of bombs, guns, inelegant black flags with strange Arabic words–very scary.
Since then people in the UK have been motivated in contrasting ways. On one hand, you have the young Muslims that feel connected to their brethren overseas and on the other, young British patriots who feel threatened by the growing presence of the abstruse culture.
Meanwhile, there was a 15% rise in people joining the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party last July, which could have been inspired by fear of a Muslim planet, spurred by inflammatory headlines; it is unlikely they just woke up and decided to join for no reason at all. Whatever the motivation, people are being radicalised by fear. Throw some separation into the distraction stew and what else can a country do but slow down; this has a negative effect on the economy.
In today’s newspapers, the headlines are unapologetically heavy but the content is paper thin. The public are drawn into situations that ignite their minds, reading and hoping for a conclusion but they are always left hanging. These endless daily sensations cause situations to pile up in the mind without resolve, is it any wonder that some feel compelled to act?
The means and ability to share news is an honourable duty and as the public is informed of the world’s ills, the news bearer should be expected to stick to the motive which should be solutions with pride in their undertaking.
If at any point the major news outlets shift their mission towards seeking solutions, rather than luring people into buying their vice, solutions they will find; with their massive hands across the globe it would be impossible not to…
For more information, please contact Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images: Angel Lewis, Paperboy.com