The manifestation of mass media is neither inherently good nor inherently bad, but can be used as an extremely effective weapon for any cause. User-generated content collected and displayed in vast quantities, if left to proliferate on their own as a singular entity, can be viewed as a representative voice of the people.
However, through manipulation such as native advertising and heavily financed corporate (or politically) backed “user” generated content emerging as the loudest voices in the crowd, it can become the most subtle, and therefore one of the most effective, method of mass distraction available.
The fundamental issue concerning mass collection and display of user-generated content is the need, whether real or formulated, for centralized storage. The only solution requires large amounts of upfront capital, presenting the need (read: opportunity) for the higher caste to fund, and therefore control, content storage.
History has shown the advantage one has over a populace when one holds the intellectual conglomerate of that populace in their grasp. Manipulation and omission of released content is assured, due to the inevitability of the desire to retain power as long as possible and the need to control a populace in order to do so.
Not only are the majority of the large platforms of user-generated content owned and operated by some of the largest companies in the world, they are producing other forms of mass distraction and selling it as entertainment. On-demand television gives people the opportunity to feel like they are in control of what they consume, while providing the owners of the content free reign over availability. As long as the people are entertained they will be compliant and peaceful, and as long as their cups are filled enough they will not feel a strong enough thirst for change. Providing a modicum of comfort, therefore, is also a necessary practice for maintaining control.
Another major factor that has been employed by people in power since the dawn of civilization is war. As George Orwell iterates so clearly in 1984, as long as there is war there is fear, and with fear comes control. It doesn’t matter who the war is being fought against, as long as the enemy is clearly recognizable as different and evil. A clever ruler will seek to establish many possible fronts of battle, so as to be able to shift focus from one to another as the need dictates. Not only does this provide fear in the population, it also serves as a readily available distraction from any perceived misdeeds performed in the pursuit of ongoing gains of power. As long as there is a common enemy abroad, the shadows at home will remain dark enough to prevent light being shed on the uncomfortable truth of corruption.
With all that being said, there is hope for the consumer, as we do still have choices. We can choose to look beyond the shallow dish being offered to us and seek the deeper bowl. Rather than allowing ourselves to be swept up in the herd mentality of mindless consumption and constant entertainment, we can choose to seek out our own sources of information and inspiration. We can choose to practice introspection and personal growth so that we may rise above the fray of blind faith. We can choose to take time for ourselves, to just be, and to share ourselves with those we love. We can choose to educate ourselves and avoid the fear that stems so strongly from ignorance.
We can choose to think for ourselves.
Distraction is powerful, it will not be easily overcome. It is far easier to simply turn on the TV than to look deeply inward and face your true self. This is not the easy path. This is the path to personal growth, the path to community solidification, the path to humanity’s continued existence. This is the path to change.
Originally published on lifeoutsidethebox.me
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