More or less every adult knows there are serious problems with “the news,” by which I refer to the alphabet soup of news organizations plus fact-checked social media. Most of them, however, are smallish things; legitimately bad, but not the central issue.
What matters most about the news is that it’s designed… structured… to soften and break human will. All else pales compared to this.
This “breaking of will” turns on a single fact: That acts of will require you to expend energy. Every time you see a lie and say, “I don’t think so,” you have to expend energy… energy you could have used for other things. And if the people around you believe the lie, the energy required to maintain your will shoots sky-high.
So, if you have to spend energy objecting to a lie five or ten or twenty times per day, over weeks or months, you’ll have to spend a lot of energy, and sooner or later you’ll be worn out. That’s when your subconscious mind will step in to save you from burnout, by providing plausible reasons to give in. Compliance comes far too easily to human beings.
Coach Lombardi used to say, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” That’s true, but none of us want to seem like a coward. And so our brilliant brains fill the gap; they give our conscious minds reasons to stop spending all that energy.
So long as you stay plugged-in to the media complex, this will happen to you. Your will is all but certain to be softened and ultimately broken. The energy requirements to maintain it are simply too high, and your self-preservation systems will guide you into wasting less energy.
In fairness, I should add that many media employees don’t realize this is happening to their viewers, and certainly not at first. Their bosses very likely know this, and very certainly intelligence agencies, at least at the higher levels, know all about this. The principle behind it has been widely known for a century now. Consider these passages from one of its developers, Edward Bernays:
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.
If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it.
Bernays thought these were good things, and made a lot of money teaching governments and corporations how to use them, starting in World War I.
Here, in comparison, is a passage from psychologist Erich Fromm, who did not think this was a good thing:
A vast sector of modern advertising… does not appeal to reason but to emotion; like any other kind of hypnoid suggestion, it tries to impress its objects emotionally and then make them submit intellectually.
The term hypnoid is now out of use, but “hypnoid state” referred to absence of mind or consciousness, produced by intense daydreams. That is, a state of immersion in a fantasy… like when watching TV or being swallowed up in social media.
Big Lies Work Best
The ironic thing about this breaking of human will is that big lies work better than small ones. It seems that rooting a big lie isn’t much harder than rooting a smaller one. And it’s certain that opposing a big lie – one that seemingly everyone has believed – requires a very large expense of energy. (Hitler and Goebbels took over a good portion of two continents with this technique.)
The big liars rely upon the fact that you haven’t the strength to resist over time. They’ll bombard you with the same unfounded assertions, and show you millions of people who adamantly believe them. (Social media is great at this.) At first you’ll be incredulous, but each time you object, you’ll have to spend energy.
After doing this over and over, you’ll be tired, especially so if the assertions come at the end of a long day, or as you roll out of bed. None of us have limitless energy, and eventually you’ll be tired. And that’s when they win.
What To Do About It
The solution to this is simple and obvious: Turn it off.
Please believe me that you do not need TV news or social media. These are habits, even addictions, but once you walk away from them, you’ll find that your life gets better, not worse.
That accomplished, you can get whatever news you need (and you probably need less than you think) by surfing the independent Internet. And by “independent Internet,” I mean not Facebook, Google and Twitter.
You’ll be quite able to find the information you need. You’ll have to consider the bias of each source, but you were probably doing that anyway.
If you want to watch certain TV shows, just buy the DVDs, then watch them as you wish. Trade them with your friends, and so on. But don’t watch regular TV.
There is no path to victory in this fight (and it is a fight for your mind) except to walk away from the rigged game. If you stay tuned in, you will lose, and you’ll find reasons – often very creative ones – to submit. And from then on, your instincts will be to defend that choice (whatever you submitted to), and to resent anyone who didn’t submit. You can certainly pull yourself out of that loop, but you’ll have wasted a lot of time and energy in the process.
TV and social media are the organs of a demanding and consuming culture; to whatever degree you’re locked into it, that’s how much you’re locked out of your individual development. I know I’m raging against the highest gods of the age here, but I’m not fundamentally wrong, and a better life for you and your family awaits.
I leave you with a passage from Alexis de Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America (Vol. 2, book 4, chapter 6). It’s yet another description of the process.
The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided… Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence: it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people.
This is a good time to walk away from something that is structured to make use of us.