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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 6 - The Media

Back again guys and this time im posting this on the blog and i have it set up so once something gets posted here it automatically gets posted to facebook as one of my notes but idk if anybody can get tagged in it or not. Ill probably just add you guys after it gets posted.

Alright so lets get into the next topic I want to talk about which is the media. I am always amazed about what gets the front page news on major magazines and whats on the homepage of nwewsites like CNN everyday. It shows a lot about what is important to our society. It also could show what the major networks and the big companies want us to see. They have the power to direct our attention to what they want us to see.

Obviously there is an innate curiousity in humans about scandals and gossip. People love hearing about the next outrageous things people do. These leads me to celebrities and how they are at the center of what most of us care about in the news. We love hearing about things like how tiger woods cheated on his wife with possibly a whole bunch of people. We like hearing about things that break our expectations. We always thought tiger was a good man who would never commit infedelity. We like hearing about "juicy" stuff that can entertain us and possibly make people feel better about ourselves. I think the our whole infatuation with celebrities and hearing about them screw up is based on our want for them to be on our level. Celebrities are usually richer, more famous, or more attractive than the average person. When they do something dumb it brings them down to our level and we realize they are normal people with not normal who make mistakes. It is even the case sometimes that their situation is worse then ours. I sure know that i wouldnt want to be in the situation britney spears got herself in a little while ago.

Another thing I wanted to talk about was the point i brought up earlier in that we only see what the media broadcasts or makes available for our consumption. Im sure that what the public finds important has an affect in what the media plays. If they didnt show what we wanted to see or read then we would obviously stop going to them as a source for news. If like cnn changed from being a general news source to only posting news about cats then people who dont want to read about cats would stop going to cnn. While this is pretty obvious i think it is an important point to make because I feel like people just assume what they think is important will make the news. It is ultimately up to the people who make the media available up to the public to decide what is on everybodys tv. Think about it, if fox news is making a segment on the iraq war, they and other news outlets are our only options of finding out whats going on over there. we cant all just get up and go to find out for ourselves so we have to see it from their perspective and we dont know what we arent seeing and whats behind the scenes. while im not advocating a conspiracy theory it is very possible and most likely some info is being withheld form the public. Whether that is good or bad is up to you.

Nowadays with technology and social networking sites like facebook and twitter there are so many more outlets for us to get our info from. I could find some guy on twitter who lives in iraq who can give me a raw unedited report about what is going on over there. An interesting trend that is rapidly growing is the democratization of media. You can easily set up your own podcast and tell people about what youre thinking. This blog is an example where I am writing stuff for you guys to consume. Anybody can make news. You dont have to be a celebrity or do something outrageous to get noticed by people anymore. There is an audience out there for everything. Check out the site and you can see there are thousands of broadcasts out there. I typed in "puppy" and i got 1251 LIVE streams. Yes thats right LIVE so as i type this there are that many people just making videos of their puppies and just on that one site. Its crazy! A couple of years ago you were limited to what the major networks felt like showing you but look at where we're at now.

You must take this with a grain of salt though because as more information is out there for use to consume, it is important for us to realize that anything we read has a possiblity of being wrong, misleading, or a straight up lie. One benefit with major news outlets is that they double check their sources and try to get as big of an understanding of the situation before they release anything. Some do a poor job like the report about how the fire went down at our school. FYI it wasnt a trashcan that caught on fire in the cafeteria lol. They had all their facts wrong but with a major network that is less likely to happen. With twitter people can post things within seconds of it actually happening. CNN would take way longer but probably be more accurate. An example of what im talking about occured during the aftermath of the disputed Iranian election. Twitter automatically exploded with tweets of rumors of what was going on and some were false and others true. Here's what Andrew Keen said about this event with respect to twitter and cnn. "It’s actually very difficult to know who is behind many of the tweets coming out of Iran. Real-time news is the most double-edged of weapons: its immediacy, by definition, compromising its reliability." With so much more news out there it becomes even more important about who you trust for providing you with accurate information. The famous author george orwell was very concerned about the fact that humans were very trusting and almost always willing to believe whatever they were told. I guess that concern will be put to the test as we keep getting told more and more each day.

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