A note about our media

Read the first part in this series here

The media is self-referential and exists in its own bubble. It is not a scientific establishment where peer reviewing articles and sources is a thing. Scientific process is slow and cumbersome because of the consequences of putting an unfinished thought/product/theory into the world can have disastrous consequences. However, the media does not bear the same weight of scrutiny. The media has to be nimble and ever-changing because of the nature of our reality and information. Things have to move quick otherwise you lose your audience to another source. This means a piece of information once it gains attention in a legitimate, audience filled podium, it will be referenced over and over without thought being given to if the first fact is true or not. This is at least the case of the fast moving media anyway, longform articles and books might come after the media cycle has finished covering a particular topic but that does nothing as the dopamine charged media consumers have moved a thousand stories forward.

Considering that the media only exists within the framework of capitalism, it cannot produce any means of dissent against the existing system because that would mean suicide. And all modern nation-states also exist within the same ecosystem which makes the relationship symbiotic and self-serving. That is why it would make sense if the media works to preserve the status quo than to break it. Considering that the media produces only what the lowest factor in a society can understand since alienating the masses is not a good sign for a balance sheet, it makes content that appeals to this lowest factor in a democracy. This would mean simplistic renditions of events, the idea that truth has two sides and that one doesn't need to think but just believe.

That would be the only explanation why people who work in thankless jobs keep functioning in them and perpetuate their lives forward. It is not that they do not know that their existence is trivial but because they do not know of any other existence that would be any different from the one they are living. The media hands out to them that there are people elsewhere that your life is worth sacrificing for, say a soldier at the frontier or a farmer slaving his time in the field. The soldier and the farmer also receive programming that their work and actions have a greater meaning for these people in thankless jobs – they all work for this fictional entity called the Nation, but who does the Nation really belong to? The people? It does seem like the Nation belongs to the people on paper but the reality is far different – the soldier does not have a say whether he wants to fight or not, nor does the thankless worker or the farmer. They should just accept things as they are and make the country proud. Proud for whom? In India that would mean for the businesses that operate internationally, the tourists and the politicians seeking international legitimacy but these population subsets are miniscule compared to the whole of Indian population. The media works for this subset rather than the whole, pretending to be a part of the masses but a cleverly disguised medium manipulation in our midst.

Now whatsapp, facebook and youtube have completely taken over traditional forms of news where the choices become more and more limited as prescribed to a certain kind of news consumption – echo chambers out of which there is no certain escape. Neither should not following the news be an option because being informed is a critical process of participation and if one removes oneself from the information loop then one becomes zombie citizen who exists just to consume but exert no real change. The way the current system of media concentration can be challenged is to draft laws that no big businesses or politicians can hold media companies and existing media houses be nationalized under strict guidelines for what can and cannot be reported. This is again easier said than done because if the nation does not evoke any kind of confidence then neither does the nationalized entity.

Competing against deep pockets needs deeper pockets and in this case to dismantle the media mechanism is not an easy task as private capital would be hard to come by. Grassroots activism via blogs, websites and social media channels by alternative media is possible but the limits to their access to information will be minimal. The internet had a capacity to do what traditional media couldn't but with the centralization of the internet it has become the new norm. The breaking of this hegemony needs a crew of academics, thinkers, strategists and politicians who believe that a real change is possible. Change in this context is not a utopian ideal but the betterment of a deeply flawed society with no incentives to better itself.

There should be a secondary constitution written on which this group of thinkers operate, a legitimate ideology connecting the members. The constitution should involve the developed values of today along with a strong scientific backing and minimal religious or emotional value. This doctrine should become the locus of interaction rather than the loosely bound ideas of a Nation and this entity should also choose to function outside the commercial universe, relying on itself for its growth, no matter how small. Upon fostering for such a community for a period of time one can start negotiating for a better future from the inside out, giving no chance to the existing elements that rule our society.

#media #democracy #dissent