Integrity over Fantasy
Pupin claimed that “newspapers love legends, because the public loves them” (Pupin, 1923). And indeed it does – it seems that the powerful human urge for sensationalism is never quite suppressed. This is why people opt for reading yellow journals, and there is an ever growing number of media that isn’t even considered to be in this category, and yet it still attracts people with extravagant titles. This should be a concern of anyone who wishes to live in a democratic society that is just and truthful, not one that replaces the truth with fantasy.
How does this fundamental flaw in the media relate to the morals which are promoted? Steven Pressfield claims that once we forget that every person has the ability to contribute to the world in one way or another just like we do, we allow ourselves to commit morally questionable acts (Pressfield, 2021). The media don’t seem to care about this: in order to attract a wider audience, they divide people instead of bringing them together. A very illustrating example of this is the way that the media presents immigrants. As the weakest link of society, immigrants cannot do much about the picture that is painted of them. They don’t have a platform or a voice that can be heard. Hence, the media often constructs a narrative that is very damaging for immigrants themselves. By forgetting about inherent human characteristics every person shares, the media reduces immigrants to mere disturbances within a society. Once human rights are neglected, we get bombastic titles about how immigrants shouldn’t be granted the same rights that the rest of the population has.
However, what if blaming the media for the way that we treat other human beings or perceive the world is simply wrong? After all, the media should be a reflection of the people, not the other way around. As was stated by Ien Ang back in 1985: “it is wrong… to pretend that the ideology of mass culture exercises dictatorial powers since alternative discourses do exist which offer alternative points of identification…” (Ang, 1985). Claiming that there is a lack of agency within every individual would perhaps be an attempt to rid oneself of responsibility and accountability – it is our responsibility to create a world where everyone is treated equally, and we need to be held accountable for every past mistake and those which we are yet to make in the future.
In spite of both of these conflicting views, what if there is some sort of a middle ground where these stances can simultaneously exist? For instance, since we do know that the media has the power to shape us more than we would perhaps like to admit, what if the answer lies in the constant attempt of every individual to raise awareness of relevant issues, do their own research, and consume and support only the media that promotes true human values and can be considered reliable? Wherever the answer lies, it should be looked for because unless we start caring about this topic, our world might change dramatically.
1. Ang, I. (1985, January). Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination. London, The United Kingdom: Methuen.
2. Pressfield, S. (2021, January). Resistance and Mass Hysteria. Steven Pressfield. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from Source
3. Pupin, M. (1949 ). From Immigrant to Inventor. New York and London: Charles Scribner’s Sons
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