By now, it's pretty easy to identify my cynicism for how the media dispenses information to the public, and how much of it is anti-intellectual propaganda: The advertisement of violence, compulsive consumption and justified money-addictions, fashion & vanity, the marketing of debt, the hiring of people to do things we can teach ourselves, the conceptual synthesis of education with formal schooling, the list goes on. I'm not unique in this though, nor do I think the criticism of these channels necessarily makes me--or anyone who makes these arguments--intelligent individuals. Unless observant and objective, providing evidence, we become even more anti-intellectual than popular media because we smugly sit behind screens. We could simply be naysayers, or just rebellious. These responses are two different sides of the reactionary coin. Naysaying is easy because one just points out flaws in arguments others are bold enough to make publicly, and rebellion is reactionary because it relies on outside sources for direction of focus. Thereby, I'm pursuant of an informed, objective perspective, so I can access many different categories and construct varying valid arguments to move forward with. Reactors are stagnant.
Much of our modern thinking has become binary. It's either this or that, these or those, etc. Shades of grey and alternatives exist (not because I said so, they just do), but aren't as useful to the production machine. I realize I haven't spoken much about the production machine specifically, just about its parent--civilization--but the quick and dirty about the production machine is that it's a network of habitual behaviors and concrete systems built upon human-centric and economic compulsions. The production machine is the Wizard of Oz, making you believe it has great power, but really just leeching off you. It loves binary thinking because it mimics our primitive binary responses (fight or flight, friend or foe), borrowing the emotional energy produced when humans believe we have to choose between to starkly conflicting things.
As critical writers we need to be keenly aware of binary thinking because our fluidity of language allows us to easily and persuasively attack or defend. A plethora of other perspectives and arguments exist, we just need to make them. And we can only do that by composing our criticality and searching for them despite wanting to argue so vehemently against violence on television, or the charade of politics, or republicans, or democrats, or ubiquitous obesity commercials with so few intellect-building commercials. This isn't to say one should relinquish all opinions, but it is to say social commentary and critique is not a place for them. It's an objective arena, which simply means it's not limited by subjective bias or experience, entailing demonstrable, observable arguments which any thinking person can understand. Here's an objective argument: Human language converts thoughts and feelings into behaviors and habits. Therefore, the better one is with language, the more they'll understand about themselves, and the more control they'll have over their behaviors and habits. It doesn't matter what background or prejudices or superstition you believe in, humans indeed use language as the bridge between our inner and outer world, and is a bridge that can be deliberately strengthened by will.
It's easy to poke fun of the media and fly off the handle at how repetitive stories are and how what you're hearing is third generation information even though it happened a few hours ago. But no matter the news story or the radio ad, there's much more information out there with which to fill out our arguments. There are "stories" happening all around us that are never picked up by the news because they don't fit the format. These are the ones we discover and argue derived solely from our own observations.
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