We all know that the media does some shamelessly awful stuff just to keep our attention. Maybe it is a flaw of human beings that we don’t care about things unless they are so outrageous that they activate our fight or flight response to gain our attention.
This media manipulation has some major side effects that I have previously covered. But I want to reiterate it because of a particular side effect that I feel is very relevant to our society today.
We are making idiots wealthy and leaving the truly deserving people out to starve.
This isn’t good for our society. We all know children are impressionable, so showing them people who act like uneducated fools and end up making large amounts of money sets a bad role model.
Instead of showing off people who are achieving things and are truly worth aspiring to be like, the media panders to the lowest echelons of society and we eat it out of their hands.
It should upset you that the “cash me outside” girl is going to be a millionaire by the end of the year. It should upset you that someone like that became famous because everyone thought she was a joke. It turns out we are the joke, because we got played.
This is called a negative externality in economics. It is a cost suffered by a third party as a result of a transaction. In this case, the media company is transacting with their audience, who fund them through advertising revenue. Society is the third party. As a whole, society is bearing the cost of making stupid people influencers.
The reason why we have a surge of conspiracy thinkers who believe the earth is flat, along with other ridiculous anti-science mumbo jumbo, is because we allow uneducated people to have a platform with equal or greater strength than those who truly know what they are talking about.
So listen, we can’t take power away from those who are already famous. That isn’t how the first amendment works. I want everyone to have free speech just like me because I realize that if someone else can be limited, I can be too. I am completely against the de-platforming of a person just because of their beliefs. But if we are going to allow anyone to talk on an issue, we have to fact check them.
That means it is up to us to pass around useful information, instead of perpetuating stupidity and misleading others. This means that if you don’t have data to back up what you say, you’re wrong.
It is up to us to work in a better direction and help keep each other informed instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by reality tv trash. We need to prevent the movie Idiocracy, not create it.
The great writer Issac Asimov once said,
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
As a society, we need to work against this. We need to push ourselves to be better instead of resting on our laurels and hoping the government will come to our aid. If anything gets you out the door for a solution it should be to realize that clearly President Trump epitomizes BOTH anti-intellectualism AND the truth that the government is not going to look out for your best interests.
It’s time for us to take action. Go out and follow informed individuals. Subscribe to Youtube channels like Today I Found Out and Vsauce. Start reading books. You’d be amazed at how much free time you actually have when you escape from the constant sales pitches of these professional plug artists.
Go outside. Read a book. Learn an instrument. Volunteer.
We spend way too much of our time cooped up watching idiots sell us things we don’t need and entertaining ourselves to death. There is a better way, it starts by taking the power away from people like this.
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