Scientific Research & Self-Development Activism
Last summer we had the shooting here in Norway, now the report is ready and politicians in opposition are pointing fingers as much as they can. Some say the prime minister failed us, some say the whole labour party, some say the police; basically everyone ever involved are getting a hard time about this. Journalists are also taking the advantage to get some headlines and they are very aggressive in their criticism as well.
One of the reasons to have media (newspapers, broadcasters etc.) is to have a watchdog on the three branches of government. We have it written in stone that journalists have a responsibility to investigate government and search for flaws. One of the major questions about the shooting was why it took the police so long to get there? The police did not have easy access to a suitable helicopter. This was obviously a disadvantage, which should have been dealt with before anything happened. Directly, this should be done by parliament by increasing police funding and the police getting a helicopter. But when this was not done, it is the purpose of media to uncover it.
This is just one example. You can probably see in your own local community the effects of lacking investigative journalism. So if media continuously fails to uncover major flaws in society, is there any need for them? Should we as receivers of their product boycott them and demand better?
Newspapers I find in stores are full of BS about celebrities, or some superficial article about some politician or sports. They are made to sell, and they write headlines so people will buy their newspaper. The journalists are no super-humans - they want to get paid. But media has very much power, and if they put paycheck before good journalism, should we still give them this power? Is there anything able to replace them? Would it be a good idea to remove the paycheck issue?
Now I won`t lynch journalists in the streets for not pointing out the flaws of government related to the shooting last summer. But I will keep in mind that they also have responsibility for not highlighting these subjects before. And that like the other three governing powers, media`s power is equally questionable.
"media has very much power, and if they put paycheck before good journalism, should we still give them this power?"
This is such a great question about our civilization because of how much people are so caught up in media in mainstream society without even knowing. It's fair to say that a lot of people never consider it their entire lives.
I think it would be a good start to ask random people this question. Just to put the thought in their mind that the media isn`t perfect, and perhaps should be replaced?
"Is there anything able to replace them?"
Comedians? These are the people in our lives who actually want to show us just how bizzare our reality is (and why we shouldn't take it at face value). While their main goal may be just to make people laugh, the evolutionary purpose of laughter is thought to be a way we can safely share with each other just how crazy life is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughter "Laughter is a part of human behavior regulated by the brain, helping humans clarify their intentions in social interaction and providing an emotional context to conversations."
I think of comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert who make me laugh, and who include a lot of political topics in their shows. They use something easily relatable to everyone (laughter) and provide us with information that is largely impartial (they'll gladly take shots at both U.S. political parties and any grouping of citizens who is gaining a lot of power or momentum). Their goal is to make us stop for just long enough to realize the absurdity of the situation and to point out inconsistencies.
I've never seen the "real" news stations do this. They're only interested in revealing "hardcore facts"...and many times they don't make us stop and think about our response to it all. It's just another story, more information overload in a world where we already have so much information thrown at us that we don't know what to do with it or take the time to stop and consider its consequences.
Our brains just aren't designed to handle this amount of information...and if they are, I'd like proof. If there is a study out there claiming we aren't being information overloaded, I'd like to meet the researchers. In my own life, I constantly feel bombarded with more information than I can handle.
In addition, Stewart and Colbert also have parts of their shows devoted to things which are positive in the world (something the typical media skimps on). Quite often these parts of their shows may be misconstrued as just a way to promote a book or something...but here's an example that's actually meant to be a message of hope for people (a message that we can persevere when times are tough):
When people are forced to stop long enough and consider someone else and their hardships, it creates a change in perspective. Suddenly our life doesn't seem so bad (a positive outcome) and if we are moved enough to help the person who is having a harder time than we are, then we give of ourselves and our resources and further benefit both the person in need and ourselves (more positive outcomes).
We gain a friend, and a study from Oregon University has found that when we give, the pleasure areas of the brain (that are traditionally stimulated by food, sex, sweets, shelter and social connection) are significantly activated. In the second part of the study when the subject chose to donate the money, the effect was even greater. Here's a link to the full study: http://cane.uoregon.edu/
Comedians (good one`s) play an important role in society. Two days ago this old norwegian comedian said almost exactly what you said. That they make us stop and think more about what we actually are doing.
Some of these comedians knows very well that they do this, and they do it well. And making you think through comedy reminds me of athene, and how he plays the character to get an audience, and every now and then tell you something that will twist your mind a bit.