By Jared Rosen and David Rippe
(excerpted from The Flip-Turn Your World Around)
Folks, we are willingly consuming an intoxicating media cocktail of entertainment, information and advertising. We are subjecting ourselves to a highly effective concoction of these three major diversions used by the mass media to tell us the "Who, What, Where, When, How and Why" for every aspect of our lives. Entertainment, information and advertising are purposely intermingled so that we cannot tell when we are being informed, manipulated, marketed to, or misled. No doubt, a reader or two is afire with indignation at this point, thinking, "I have a mind of my own, thank you very much, and I can tell the difference between reality and illusion." However, virtually no one in the United States is beyond the reach and power of the media. Only hermits and those living completely off the grid can escape its influence. Please bear with us as we walk with you through the dark shadow side of the upside-down world of addictive programming and see if at the end of the show, you still feel that you're in total charge of your own mind.
We'd like to state upfront that we find much value in the entertainment media-when watched or listened to mindfully. There are many good shows available to entertain, educate and enlighten. Unfortunately, one must search though a heaping pile of dreck to find the good stuff.
On TV, which is by far by the most pervasive, powerful and persuasive media, programs run the gamut from feel-good morning shows, afternoon soap operas, talk shows, game shows, reality shows, comedy sitcoms, hour-long dramas, mini-series and made for TV movies, documentaries, biographies, kids shows, nostalgic re-runs, cartoons, religious programming, infomercials posing as TV shows, news, movies, and lots and lots of sports. And it's all 24/7.
The Dark Ages
Thirty years ago, 24-hour networks were unheard of. How did the ancients of those dark ages ever get along? How did they feed their minds? How could they have functioned? How uninformed they must have been. And then came the cable companies starting in the mid-seventies when the major networks lost their monopolies. By the end of the seventies there were 28 cable networks (channels) broadcasting to 15 million homes with cable. By 1989, 74 cable networks provided programming for 53 million homes. Today there are 104 million U.S. homes receiving cable or satellite programming from over 300 networks.
That's a mind-boggling number of programming choices. And a lot of time to fill. So how do all those expensive airwaves get filled?Here's a nice little interactive exercise, a bit of audience participation, if you will. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. We'll wait.
Write DARK and LIGHT in two columns on a separate piece of paper. Allot ten minutes-and ten minutes only-to watch TV. Take the remote for a spin-up and down the channels-placing tick marks in either a Dark or Light column based on the types of images you see.
Here are a few examples of the types of scenes and images you might see and which column they fall in. We'll meet you back here in ten minutes.
DARK images might include: violence, angry characters, jealousy, raised voices, war scenes, murder, cruelty, deception, and despair.
LIGHT images might include scenes of joy, inspiratio, intimacy, laughter, hope, healing, compassionm happiness, and friendship.
For those of you who took the time to do it, how did it go? This is truly an eye-popping awareness exercise. Most likely, more than half of what you saw depicted fearful themes, angry people, or terror. Whether it's pundits arguing on news channels, crime scene investigations, or desperate housewives scheming in the neighborhood, there are few opportunities for uplifting entertainment. Even the religious figures preaching about God seem to be yelling at their audience, stirring up the emotions of fear, guilt or shame.
As much as we all love to sit on our couch and veg out watching TV after a hard day of work, we need to question what we are really subjecting ourselves to.
Jared Rosen and David Rippe are coauthors of The Flip-Turn Your World Around, Hampton Roads Publishing Company. They can be reached at www.theflip.net or 513-253-4854.