Posts Tagged ‘unreal’

Manifest Unreality: The Media and Fake Truth

January 9, 2011 Leave a comment

As a virtual perspective into reality, our media functions as a device to contextualize the events and people in our world. For some, the media is the only lens: it is the sole source of exposure to everything beyond one’s current location. Some benefit from a less limited lens on the world and utilize the media as a view to foreign lands and leaders or to the diverse collection of opinions the form provides. There is a power beyond this lens though.

As Tim Wu’s The Master Switch argues the lines of communication are a critical public good. His text argues for a need for greater understanding of the figures who control these lines, referencing a one-time power player’s term “the master switch” to reflect the power that our media often devolves into. The media is power and those who possess its capabilities are presented with multiple responsibilities and powers. Add a business model to these responsibilities and principles are easily disregarded, add an advertising industry and kiss goodbye the possibility of a rational consideration of sober versus attention-grabbing coverage. Advertising expects attention, it craves more minds, more eyes and functions in a world where millions of possible viewers hover in the ether. Compete they must or risk death by failure or dismissal by lacking effort.

We see the actions of this “attention grab” when major media stories break. Note the distinction here: there are major events and then there are major media events, moments that possess significance on their own but when delivered via the media take on an added importance as interpretation twists the story as the media player needs. Added distortion comes from the system of multiple players. Each station interprets the story differently (one must place a unique perspective after all) and then each, in turn, interpret these interpretations and aggregate, adjust and recast interpretations multiple times. In such a system each minute means the lens of perception has been distorted once again. When the media touches a story the story is never the same and forever made unreal.

In The Waste Land, TS Eliot referred to London as an “unreal city,” are we not living in a world where the unreal city’s media has extended the lack of reality to its truth? Unreal city, I loathe your unreal stories.

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