I am pretty sure, with the seemingly unending work from home crisis, the entertainment played through the news channel is the last thing that anyone of us would have ever wished for and neither it is something that our rational mind is ever comfortable with- It doesn’t want to know- you know! Join me here, we we try to make sense around the nonsense played out in the garb of journalism and news broadcasting the world over; depending on where you are the chances are you are been treated to either a binary or a multicolored spectacle of narratives and ideologies, each trying to win your mind and heart so that it serves the purpose and even if it doesn’t the channels end up being the ultimate winners in this game of mind control. Nor am I complaining, neither am I suggesting to hold a moral high ground- because each one of us is equipped with a base level intelligence to know that magic tricks no matter how creative, scintillating they seem to be, never have found the solutions to the real world problems! So let’s move ahead and make some sense of the noise that has entered our lives!
Sure enough, I don’t own a media house (and I am so thankful I don’t , in these times!), but let’s try to understand as layman and observers how the whole aspect of NEWS has ended up being where it it today- cluttered, noisy and divergent! Before you jump the gun, like with every vocation, we have had pioneers, innovators and those rare breed of selfless geniuses even in this space. But as they were very few of them in the long period of evolution of the NEWS space, the risk it got to the business was unlike for any other business! Hence unlike the earlier formative days of coming to life, the business of NEWS today, is the business of building and crafting narratives played out to a certain audience for a specific agenda– helps a few times, possibly harms a lot!
With the advent of science the earlier phase of industrialization, as printing technology and inks became a reality the possibility of recording developments, documenting what was unfolding around saw an explosion of sorts as far as growth was concerned, add to that the access to education and being literate (we will come back to this towards the end), it changed the dynamics of societies the world over and with every passing year form then on we have add more and more literate people- resulting in more access to documents- documents which were not merely books of fiction but records of governance which now became records of accountability that could be held up to challenge when governance failed and appreciate as it flourished. To this evolving scenario, we had multiple pathways of the human mind coming up- philosophers, sociologists, psychologist, politicians, innovators, business tycoons- every segment of the society through this access of the printed world- wanted to create a mark of their own and gain what is important- control and as the communication media changed from print to radio to TV and to the menace of the online in the last 30 odd years- the mad craze for Control- Control of narratives has never been as fierce as we see it today- to the extent that groups and individuals are happy to sabotage companies, governments just to have their narrative win over the others! With so much happening around- you thought that the print world was always and only limited to the great works of art and literary classics that propagated the value of the essence of being human and need for collaboration and sharing! Well, as they say, as the coin is flipped, one side retains its polish and the other hits the dirt, the one that shines is what holds the power, control to drive the narrative and with that the hearts and minds of the people!
Through the last 100 odd years, the concept of NEWS- that is sharing information about latest development within the societies across regions, continents and the world in general evolved and through its evolution the wise people who owned this machinery of news curation and dissemination realized the enormity of the power that this had to influence, direct and control social behaviour, opinions and attitudes. This perhaps, if you ask me was the turning point in or recent history as humanity learnt to leverage on the power of this medium to further pursuits of greed- either political, capitalistic or both to serve a few masters while doing dis-service to the others!
From being a mirror that reflects and shares the happening as they really do, the world of NEWS suddenly has become on “Mirror Mirror on the Wall” kind of magic- wherein every person that seeks is, is served as per who that person is! This is where our modern day societies have ended up being- a society where every individuals truth is a different reality, hence we have created societies which are intrinsically more divergent rather being cohesive and the apparent cohesion gets ripped away in no time as some uneven pressure is applied to the social fabric either through policy change or some mis-communication! Guess what holds the key to correct all these imbalances that are created by this new magic mirror- yes- NEWS again! So what is really happening here? Is there anything that can be done to regain some level of rationality and sanity?
As I said earlier, power and ability to move masses in a direction of ones’ choice is perhaps the greatest high that rulers ever get! Whether its a kingdom that you are a part of or a nation that has elected representatives ( whatever form they come in), the fact remains that people at the helm of providing service unto others, are driven by motives- when that individual motives of the people in power is not aligned to the larger motives that the society aspires for, is where the problem begins and and then narratives are created and crafted in quick succession to ensure that the narratives of the leaders override and prevail over all other narratives and thereby as the divergent voices get drowned in the noise of the people who drive the mainstay narrative. Things rapidly alter and how that manifests largely depends on whether that overriding narrative has been used for the larger good even while serving self-interest or whether only the self-interests of the people who drive the narratives are being served!
So how do we survive this? Well it’s deceptively simple, depending on where you are, chances are there could be anywhere from perhaps 20 odd to over 800 channels broadcasting NEWS by the minute and to that, not to forget the online players, news syndicates, news aggregators, its a big party in a sense! Now that you have only 24 hours in a day, and have that need to win your daily small battles ranging from getting the grocery to paying your bills to safeguarding your income to taking care of those weird mood swings of all the members that you deal with- pets included! Sure enough, the last thing that you want to do and should ever do is flip the switch of that idiot box or your latest smart TV and get stuck on some ranting, screaming and yelling for some cause by a few people who have been agitated by all that- the first thing that you need to do is evaluate- How much of what is been ranted off, actually impacts you now or forever- and if that’s not worth your time, just flip the channel and if it does, listen, get a complete picture, research on other conflicting narratives and then take a scientific rational and informed decision in the way you can- bitching, frowning and sulking doesn’t help anyone especially if the context is something that will impact you! Needless to say if you have ever noticed that these sold narratives are often loud, nosier and are almost always accompanied by a dash of fear mongering or an undercurrent of hate which basically strives to create a division within the social strata (because that serves the political maneuvering).
Well, given the limitations of a blog, I really don’t have the space to get into intricate details about how and why you should try to retain your sanity and control over the narratives been served to your every evening prime time! But what all of us can surely do is (depending on what role and impact we can create in the society that we live) we can choose the amount of time that we can spend to understand and decode the narratives and then applying our own rationality and wisdom see if that narrative fits what we observe and even the slightest deviation is an indication of something not being right and that almost always is perhaps the first sign of curated narratives been driven down the society. Not all of us will have the power to change or stop that, but each of us, as individuals have a formidable power to change the outcome by doing what is right rather then getting sold into the narrative! In case you happen to be one for them, who are empowered by sections of the society to voice your views and narratives than, the more you do it with logic and facts, higher are the chances that a powerful counter-narrative will be created and that gives society a decent choices to evaluate and make a informed decisions as it deems fit in the contextual settings that may be prevailing!
The whole aspect of NEWS creating narratives, draws power from the inertia of those who can create equally powerful counter-narratives! It seems strange, but well at times fact is stranger than fiction! It never really matters what is been said, who is saying what they are saying or what is the method of communication adopted- whether we have anchors yelling, howling, screaming on the channels or we have fist fights breaking out in the studios as part of a planned script- the most important part here is- what is that you and I choose to do as we witness this, when do we say enough is enough and when do we begin to apply our rational, scientific and logical mind to what is been told to us to be a problem and we actually are able to see what the problem really is! As more and more empowered individuals begin to do this diligently, slowly but surely change happens and in no time will you see all these unproductive nonsense loose its acquired sheen, because all of that drama only works- when there is an audience for it and importantly a paid audience! The show of the clowns ends when the circus halls are empty!
There is no point, raising fingers, for or against anyone- because eventually all of us come from the same societal bucket and if you think that the waters are stinking, well that‘s a time when the society needs to come together more than ever to do an agreed, principle based change to correct what’s gone horribly wrong! Think about it! You always see political class and every media channel having divergent, opposite and at time useless views about every thing- whether someone asks or not- but when it comes to the question of existence- like an act of war or a pandemic like the one we are facing now- all of them (thankfully!) come together to stand uniformly behind the nation that they come from! This act tells you something, apart form the fact of people being patriotic, it also shows you what the real priorities are and why all else is nothing but a drama played out for the audience of a nation, directed and produced by …well … you people are smart…go check for yourselves!
I leave you here with these thoughts for now, think twice before you decide to consume everything that’s laid in front of you; gluttony too is a sin and in the modern times that we live, its poisonous enough irrespective of the golden cup that it comes in!
Stay wise, stay safe, rationalize and apply your intelligence empowered by your wisdom! Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece!