For as long as I can remember I have struggled with mainstream media’s power to influence people with their biases. When I was living in Shepparton in the 1980’s we only had two TV channels – the ABC and WIN TV which was the Nine Network. Teaching social studies I liked to watch 60 Minutes each Sunday evening as it provided current topics of discussion with my students. I loved making them think and question assumptions, including their own and their families. One week 60 Minutes did this story about Indigenous Australia, although in the 1980’s they were referred to as Australian Aborigines, and I was disgusted. It was filled with biases, agendas and stereotypes.
I took pen to paper and wrote to 60 Minutes to express my disappointment in the missed opportunity to present a fair and balanced piece that could open doors to informed conversations. To my surprise the reply – from Gerald Stone the then Executive Producer – simply stated that they would prefer I didn’t write to them again and I am not the desired audience so could I stop watching?
And there it was – everything my gut told me was wrong about commercial television – it was biased, unashamedly biased.
That was thirty years ago and not only has it not improved, it’s got worse.
7 Reasons You Should Stop Believing The Media
According to the DSM IV a sociopath is someone who possesses at least three of the seven following characteristics:
1. Failure to conform to social norms
2. Deceitfulness, manipulativeness
3. Impulsivity, failure to plan ahead
4. Irritability, aggressiveness
5. Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
6. Consistent irresponsibility
7. Lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another
I would like to present the following for consideration: not only can individuals possess these qualities but so can societal institutions and specifically I’m naming the mainstream news media as an entity that displays sociopath behaviours – right there on your TV screen, day in day out.
You are being groomed to accept and normalise sociopath behaviours and attitudes every time you watch the news and news programs. This isn’t intentional on your behalf but it is on their. Studies have shown it over and over that if you are exposed to any behaviour long enough you start to not notice it. If you are susceptible to being a certain way then seeing it over and over justifies why you too can be that way.
Ignoring Social Norms
The mainstream media have the capacity to not only ignore social norms they create their own. Between the advertisements and the type of programs shown they tell us what we should care about. If your interests are outside of this, well as my example showed you are told to move on. Problem solved. Mainstream media would argue that they are only giving everyone left behind what they want.
Deceitfulness and Manipulative
It goes without saying that mainstream media are deceitful and manipulative. They ask questions to evoke answers they want. They cut interviews to present people in the light they desire. They promote ideas, products and approaches that serve their advertisers and not the general public. If they can’t get the quote they want they just make it up and they use dramatic headlines to provoke curiosity and draw you in. When it comes to these qualities of deceitfulness and manipulation it’s not just visual media but the print media as well. The print media are stunningly good at this!
Let’s just name a famous person who has been at the other end of stories filled with lies…I’ll get you started…Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Prince Charles, Lady Di, Prince Harry in his youth and then Meghan and Harry as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Chef Pete Evans, Rebel Wilson…you get my point, right?
Impulsiveness and failure to plan ahead
There’s a degree of impulsivity and making it up as they go along in news reporting. The traditions of investigative journalism has been lost to opinion pieces that are nothing more than excuses to rant and rave on behalf of the highest paying bidder. There are times when they do stumble upon secrets in all this rush and drama and they are very good at making it look like they knew all along. If you have ever met a sociopath you will recognise this quality.
Irritability and aggressiveness
I have to admit that I am often left gobsmacked by the degree of irritability and aggressiveness that is launched at those people who dare to stand up to the media and call them out. You only have to look at the articles written about Harry and Meghan, Chef Pete Evans, Rebel Wilson as evidence. But let’s take President Trump and the media. For starters, like him or not, Mr Donald Trump was elected President and by only referring to him as Trump they are disrespecting the office of president. That tells you a lot about them as well.
I’m still open to President Trump having sociopath tendencies himself and when you observe two sociopath personalities engaging in the petty aggressiveness they do on a near daily basis I’m left to conclude, sociopaths don’t play well together.
Reckless disregard for the (mental and emotional) safety of others
I have so many things to say about the reckless disregard for the safety, in particular mental and emotional, of others that I need to contain it into a few key points.
• The media rave about how bad bullying is while bullying people. And oh my goodness, name their bullying and next thing that person is bullying them.
• Princes William and Harry come out and talk about their mental health issues from losing their mother and the media are all sensitive and caring until they turn on them. They have no concern for the mental health of either Prince if it means they have to defend their right to act as they please.
• The hypocrisy drips from media outlets as they display callous disregard for people’s mental health.
Even Pink has come out and said the media’s attack on her looks and body impacts her no matter how much she tries to give it no power. Just listen to her songs and you hear her war cries to hold on to her sense of self. I will say Pete Evans has impressed me with his approach to the constant negativity the media has sent his way. The one thing that is obvious in Pete’s situation is that the media don’t like being out played or outsmarted – they just attack harder.
Consistent irresponsibility and a lack of remorse
As for the final two qualities of a sociopath – consistent irresponsibility and a lack of remorse – it’s a real “drop the mic” moment. I mean it’s like BIG TICK, YES & YES! Even when they lose a court case they feel wronged, i.e. Rebel Wilson.
Recently I watched Bombshell – a brilliant portrayal of deceit, power and manipulation inside a major news corporation – and then someone came out accusing Ellen DeGeneres for creating a toxic workplace. The exact same ‘spin’ used by Fox News to discredit Gretchen Carlson was fed up in news feed which is get other people saying they have never experienced such terrible things so this person must be lying.
No, they may not be lying. Yes, they probably have experienced it but they are terrified of speaking up. Goodness knows, they know what happens to dissenters. What these minions are doing is surviving. And I think that’s the key in all of this.
The Sociopath Before Us
With the sociopath on the screen in front of us it feels all consuming, like we are too small and too powerless to hold the mainstream media accountable. (Well for that matter I should add in politicians, health officers, TGA/FDA, WHO, United Nations, World Bank, massive corporations and all those billionaires with the power to buy organisations!) It feels like all we can do is survive it. But it’s not. We can do more, be more.
Maintain your personal power
The first step is awareness – realise the lies, the manipulation and the biases for what they are.
The second step is the most powerful – step out of the narrative. Step out of the story. Stop repeating it. Tell the truth, every chance you get.
The third step is choose – you choose how you show up in the world, not all these other people.
They can’t make you believe them!