Dan Rather bemoans, “Our digital leashes have us tethered in body and mind to the instantaneous.”
Ever since Trump announced his candidacy, I’ve felt like my life has been spaghettified in exactly that way - my life experience narrowed and stretched into a string as if we'd crossed a black hole event horizon. Every day I focus on political news for hours, immersed in ever-worsening cascading crises.
Tom Engelhardt makes sense of this as a changed media landscape that most of us haven’t begun to grasp. He calls it a Zombie Apocalypse Media World.
Since that escalator ride, he’s been in the news (and in all our faces) in a way once unimaginable.
background: yellow;">It’s the sort of 24/7 attention that normally accompanies terrorist attacks in the United States or Europe, presidential assassinations, or major hurricanes.
He’s gotten so much attention in part because he rose in (or, in his case, descended into) a changed media landscape that most of us hadn’t even begun to grasp.
He was what a news media in crisis needed,
… when a once-upon-a-time sense of the “news” was morphing into so many focus groups on what would glue eyeballs, while coverage was increasingly being recalibrated for a series of designated 24/7 events, each generally filled with horror, fear, and plenty of weeping people. Think: terror attacks, mass killings, and anything involving “extreme weather” with all its photogenic damage.
By the time The Donald set foot on that escalator, our world of news was already devolving into a set of 24/7 zombie apocalypse events.
He would have been an unimaginable candidate before the media… began refocusing on a few singular events of particularly resonant horror. These, in turn, regularly wiped away most of the rest of what was actually happening on this planet, while giving media units with smaller staffs and fewer resources the opportunity to put all their attention and energy into a set of eye-gluing, funds- and staff-preserving spectacles.
In the end, it wasn’t Trump who brought it on; it was the media.
… until we understand that he isn’t an aberration but the zeitgeist and that simply removing him from the Oval Office won’t solve our problems, we aren’t anywhere at all. [emphasis mine]
Strange to realize that the media landscape within which I live affects my mind like gravity.
The media not only wipe away most of what's happening on the planet every day, they continually shorten my attention span to the now. It's reminds me of how the attention and perception of people who are in a panic tunnel down and time seems to slow.
I contend that the effects of today's media actually threaten human survival. The reddit post stripped out my paragraph breaks, sorry.
I quote it here, with paragraph breaks added, for easier reading, and add emphasis.
Susan Blackmore warned about temes, memes which reproduce themselves. It’s my contention that temes of a certain variety have already assumed control of civilization. I present a perspective on how they are advancing a Great Filter. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/the-third-replicat...
Dan Rather recently bemoaned how we are tethered to the instantaneous. Tom Engelhart claims that Trump is a symptom of a changed media landscape we haven’t begun to understand. He identified news agencies in crisis as a source. To stay in business, they had to cut staff and refocus on 24/7 coverage of a few topics with the resonant horror. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176357/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_a_p...
I feel spaghettified by this media landscape, spending hours consuming news of ever-worse breaking crises, pinned to the fast-moving crest of government deconstruction, constantly challenged to make sense of it all and formulate a response - just to stay sane. This shift in attention and thinking we are experiencing – very fast, very shallow, and driven by our most primitive emotional responses - is more momentous than the rise of global plutocracy that Bernie decries.
Marshall McLuhan attributed the enlightenment, including the emergence of reason and science, to effects on human attention, thought, and perception from reading printed books. The information age has begun to reveal its own media impact on our minds. This tethered-to-unfolding-horror everyday life, which used to be reserved for terror attacks and large scale disasters, which excludes everything else happening in the world and excludes past and future perspectives, stifles reason, critical thinking, and self-examination. It’s no accident that we’re collectively losing our grasp on reality to fake news claims and counterclaims, that we’re collectively failing to grasp the consequences of our own actions destabilizing the climate, that conspiracy theory inhabits an anti-science US government. I contend that our media erect invisible barriers to any other response.
As Trump is a symptom, I submit that plutocrats like the Koch Brothers and Robert Mercer are themselves symptoms – human beings operant conditioned by and tethered to profit-making entities. A perspective emerges that temes are already in control. Susan Blackmore’s definition of temes does not exclude entities of the economic system such as corporations. I submit that human identities, values, perceptions, desires and language are already heavily manipulated by such artificial entities, in service to the “flow” of money and power characterized by Adrian Bejan. https://qz.com/957711/everything-including-the-growing-income-dispa... The time frames important to those entities, from the quarterly report to the speed of stock market response to news, have already assumed prominence in our collective thought.
If we fail to pay attention to this evolutionary dynamic, we’ve lost the reins of control not only of global civilization but of our most intimate selves. One kind of Great Filter must be to become self-made puppets.
Ben Cohen has a way with words. The right wing echo chamber really is inflating a bubble of insanity, within which 30% or so of our citizens have already lost touch with reality, lost the capacity to distinguish what's true.
An entire media ecosystem exists to perpetuate the lies told by Trump and the GOP -- outlets that don't meet the most basic standards of journalism. Fox News, Breitbart, Newsmax, Townhall, and a host of other propaganda sites have made it their mission to distort the truth, ignore reality and feed their audiences with dangerous myths. The net result is a radical government protected by a bubble of insanity maintained by radical media outlets that are only interested in power.
The report also concluded that the "facts" reported by far right sites shared by Trump supporters are so detached from reality that it makes dialogue with them completely impossible:...[emphasis mine]
What disturbs me most is that they're working to expand this insanity bubble untill their post truth world engulfs everyone.