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Archive for the category “The way I see it…”

My life without news

News

I did some research and it appears Malcolm X did make the comment in the image above.

He also said.

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Amazing insight and both comments are even more relevant today.

In November 2014 my wife and I agreed to switch off our TV(s). Initially it was to get away from the news. In the 5 months leading up to November I had spent a great deal time away from work, supporting my wife through her battle with breast cancer. Surgery, treatment and ongoing follow ups. The majority of our time was spent at hospitals talking about cancer, seeing doctors about cancer, with some time at home trying to forget about cancer. Wherever we went, there was always a TV and the TV always seemed to be on a channel broadcasting news. Let’s face it, it’s hard to escape it these days. Most Australian commercial TV stations have back to back news programs from 6am until about 7.30pm. The only break seemed to be in the form of light entertainment or quiz shows, dispersed between breaks from news.

I remember hating the news when I was a kid. I’d get home from school, do my homework as fast as I could so that I could watch whatever kids programs they had on at the time (Bewitched, I dream of Jeanie or maybe the Bugs Bunny show). When 6pm rolled around, the sound of the news starting was like someone sticking a fork in my eye. I was so happy when I discovered that the ABC didn’t play their news until 7pm. We had Doctor Who and then Monkey. I’d flicked the channel over and hoped that my news consuming parents hadn’t noticed.

So what happened? When and why did I start enjoying the news? At some point, I actually began looking forward to it. There was even a time when I contemplated getting the papers delivered.

I of course don’t know the why, I just fell into line like so many others and eagerly consumed the media product blindly. I become outraged with terrorism, I worried about border security and I believed every celebrity fall from grace story they fed me. I found myself talking to people about stuff I’d heard, becoming one of those doom-sayers, convinced the world was coming to an end.

Relief came in the form a breakdown. I have suffered with various mental health issues for most of my life. But it got a lot worse in October/November 2014. It resulted in a stay in my local hospital’s mental health ward. It was just over a week of drug induced bliss. Sure, there was screaming, fights between patients and fights between patients and staff. But there was also Diazepam and no TV.

When I got home I shared this experience with my wife. Not the Diazepam bit, but the no TV part, or at least no more news. Luckily my wife had begun to feel the same way. So we switched off. No news on TV, in papers or magazines. We still had some TV shows we liked to watch together in the evenings and I’m a cricket fan, so the TV came back on intermittently.

But it soon became apparent that the news wasn’t the only problem. Being selective about what you watch is fine, but you have almost no control over the barrage of marketing and advertising that occurs during commercial breaks. Sure you can turn the volume down, but it’s almost like advertisers are aware that people might do that, so they bombard you with images of stuff they’re trying to sell you. Even if you can’t hear it, you can see it!

There’s a book called “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig. I highly recommend it if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety. I also recommend it to people who have family or friends with depression and/or anxiety. The title of the book says it all really, but there’s a chapter in the book called ‘The World’, which really struck me. It really summed up how I was feeling about media, big corporations and advertising.

Very little on TV is real. The news is not the absolute truth. It’s a version of something that has happened or will happen that is spun in such a way that will ultimately benefit them. It is aimed at making you vote they way they want you to vote. Hate who they want you to hate. Buy the things they want you to buy. Worse than that, all of this is predicated on fear and self loathing.

Fear of missing out (FOMO). Fear of people in boats and terrorism. Fear that welfare cheats are creating the economic crisis. Seriously? Everyone knows someone in their circle of friends or neighbourhood that is claiming something they shouldn’t be or getting more welfare then they deserve. None of these people are using that extra money to holiday overseas or to buy a new car. They’re paying bills, feeding their family. Sure, a few may waste it on drugs, cigarettes or alcohol, but who gives a shit. The banks, politicians and big corporations are the problem, not someone getting $50 a fortnight too much from Centrelink.

Self loathing creates a feeling that you are not good enough as you are. You’ll never be happy if you stay like you are now. You need to buy stuff, a new car, the newest smartphone or a big TV. That’s what your life is missing and they will make you happy, for now. In a few weeks you’ll be sad again but don’t worry, a new smartphone is already out!

The bottom line (to use a horrible business/marketing term), happiness doesn’t sell stuff. Fear, paranoia and hate are good for business.

So eventually we fully unplugged. I removed the cord from my TV to my roof antenna. I still have a TV and I admit to having a Netflix subscription. But our reliance of this for entertainment is slowly decreasing. The next 12 months will hopefully see me getting rid of Netflix and the TV.

It’s a work in process and part of my plan to move toward minimalism.

For now, I’m trying to practice JOMO – Joy of missing out.

Thanks for reading.

It’s life

But not as we know it…

Or maybe it is how we know it. We’ve grown up with it, become accustomed to it, controlled by it.

What happened to us? What happened to the free world? Does it exist anywhere? Has it ever existed?

We have a new H&M store open in our huge multilevel mega-plaza. I tried to follow my wife and son into it recently only to be stopped at the door by a security person. “No beverages allowed in the store sir” I was advised. Like a diligent servant I complied with the order. But why did I? What could “they” have possibly done if I had just walked around the security guard and entered the store? I guess we will never know because society has trained me so well, I did as asked and didn’t make a fuss.

Ultimately it’s no big deal. I have vowed not to shop there, which won’t be hard as I don’t buy a lot of clothes for myself. The store won’t care because they have a lot more customers to take my place. But it’s another example of the control corporations have over us. And the worst part, these corporations don’t have to do anything to keep us in check. We control each other on their behalf.

A Current Affair asked their Facebook fans if H&M’s rule to not let shopping trolleys into their store was fair. The debate, like most debates on social media, got quite heated. Clearly people feel strongly about shopping trolleys and beverages in their favourite clothing stores. I can see both sides of the argument but why is it even being discussed? We’re talking about people, people with trolleys. People that are not conforming to the standards. People who don’t fit into the tiny little shoebox of what is expected. But the store doesn’t waste their time responding, we do it for them.

This afternoon, on my way home from work I walked passed a car yard. Several of the nice shinny cars had signs on their windscreens. ‘Feel it, Love it, Own it”. On a fairly well know soft drink, a slogan reads ‘Taste happiness’. Isn’t advertising wonderful.

I have been on a self-imposed media ban since about January this year. No newspapers, no news websites and no TV (I read, or I watch DVDs or Netflix, I know I know, hypocrite). Someone said to me recently, “but how will you know what’s going on in the world?” I won’t I guess, but I’ll be no less wiser than anyone who watches or reads anything from the mass media outlets. I may be a paranoid conspiracy theory nut, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about the major media corporations, mega global corporations and Governments, all working together to keep us in line.

Don’t watch TV for a few days or weeks and then turn it back on. Within minutes you’ll start to feel worse about yourself. Your clothes are no longer in fashion, you are ageing too rapidly and you are not skinny enough. You need a new car, a new phone and a bigger house to put your stuff in. Keep watching. They’ll tell you who to be scared of, who is to blame for the rising cost of living and the deficit, oh the deficit, who will save us from this terrifying world? They will tell you…

Perhaps I am crazy, it does all sound a little big brother, 1984. Do your own research. Check out the Collective Evolution website. Read Russell Brand’s book Revolution or his Trews channel on YouTube.

Thanks for reading.

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