Friday, November 30, 2012

The Isle of Fear- Unintended Impact of Mass Communication Technology

Be not afeard, the isle is full of noisesSounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices, That if I then had wak'd after long sleep, Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming, The clouds methought would open, and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd I cried to dream again. (The Tempest, Shakespeare - III.ii.135-143) 

MEDIAMANIA- Attitudes, Signs, and Self-fulfilling Prophecy

In 2008 I read an incredible book entitled “Endurance- Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Albert Lansing. It is the true story of survival in Antarctica during the years of 1914 and 1915.

Amazing read! There are great quotes in the book and Shackleton’s undefeatable will is inspirational!-But I was also struck with a quote by one of the crew in his journal.

While the men were locked on an ice flo- they began to exhibit an unhealthy obsession with the wind reports. They were dependent on the wind to move their flo closer to land. If the wind went in one direction they were closer to freedom, if it changed, they were pressed hard to hold on to hope.

This obsession with the wind was labeled ‘amenomania’ – literally, ‘wind madness’- The crewman commented “ This disease may be exhibited in two forms: Either one morbidly anxious about the wind direction and gibbers continually about it, or else a sort of lunacy is produced by listening to the other amenomaniacs.

As I read this, I couldn’t help to think of our modern disease of ‘mediamania’ where we are constantly bombarded with 24 hour cable news about the state of the world and nation. Talking heads wasting hours gibbering about their worldviews and pre-suppositions.

The constant drumbeat of the messages has produced division and cynicism in our world today. Our extreme negative views are supported and encouraged in the news desire to sell the things that make us watch. We are disturbingly drawn to the tragedies and bloodbaths.
I’m getting closer to believing that we may need a media-fast to pull down this influential and destructive idol in our society. 

Can anyone doubt the influence of the media on the masses? Though it seems to be a “no-brainer”, the Civil Libertarians and Media Moguls always are quick to side with celebrities and loudly proclaim that art imitates, not shapes the world we live in. 

I am so tired of the bogus, politically correct wimpyness that infects us. We have had our sense of reality so numbed by the constant flicker of fantasy, that we have educated all common sense, moral sense, and passion completely out of modern life. 

The 51/49 split

The latest election definitely shows our division. Is there an explanation? I find it interesting that TV portrays debates with an even 50/50 split. Take any news program and watch the screen. Usually there are the same experts on each side, handling the questions, splitting time. Even if there is a public opinion of 70/30 – it will be handled in the media 50/50. Has the “balance” of news caused a “balance” of views? 


I grew to love television very early. Saturday morning cartoons held me spellbound. I especially loved Scooby Doo. We started early on Saturday (around 7) and usually finished about 11:30. I also remember watching Star Trek on Sunday evenings. I have never doubted television’s power. 

But I was blessed. We only had 3 channels until I was 14 years old. It was a snow blizzard from midnight to 5:00 A.M. when Country Boy Eddie started the day. I really did not watch that much TV, because it wasn’t on that much. 

So I read. Comic books and Hardy Boys were my favorite. I played outside. We loved Indian Baseball, Nerf football, garage basketball, riding bikes, and spotlight in the early evening. 

Is television, the kingpin of mass brainwashing, the evil culprit in this destruction of American character? Absolutely not! 

Media is neutral, the human heart is evil. But the flicker rate has helped our enemy forge his grandest attack. 

God has communicated in a WRITTEN form- and if we can't or don't read... we have no weapon!

I used to tell my students- practice and develop the reading muscle.


I remember comprehending what I read very early. There was a voice inside my head that seemed to be telling me the story and I followed it. When I lost the voice, I stopped and retraced where it stopped and picked it back up. I can’t prove it, but I believe TV minimizes that voice of imagination and comprehension. Its flickering array of pixels, colors, sounds, and dynamic movement, and rapid scene changes damages that ability to comprehend reading- that is my theory. 

When children see those images over and over, it pre-wires the brain and hinders the development of the mind. 

I know the argument. I am lumping together thousands of ordinary people who are actors, writer, producers and accusing them of a mass conspiracy. No, I am saying that somehow they are being used as pawns of the Prince of this World. Satan has orchestrated this culture of fantasy with all the expertise of an artist! 

Does this mean I want to rid the world of TV? No Do I let my children watch? Yes 

But we need to plan what to watch. We turn it off if it is not planned to do so. We need to pick and choose. We need to control it. The development of the DVR does help this!

All TV carries a world view. Most of it is hostile to Biblical values.

A quick example: CSI is a great show- well made- etc. However, there is a subtle message there. The only “truth” is scientific evidence. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Is this a problem? It is a huge problem. If historical evidence becomes a matter of perception, then the foundations of the credibility of our faith is weakened. 

I asked a student one day about Christ and he said he doubted that Jesus really lived, and that it was just a story. I countered and asked if he believed the Abraham Lincoln lived. 

He answered, “I cannot know for sure. I guess they can dig him up and do a DNA test, but outside of that you can’t know.” CSI supplements this view. 

I am not saying to boycott CSI. Watch it, enjoy the quality; rejoice in the truths that the show portrays (all truth is God’s truth)- but be careful, and keep God’s word as the filter. Don’t disengage the mind…stay alert! 
Please do not let TV shape your world-view. If you become its servant- it will tell you how to think, speak, live, evaluate, and vote. And that is a scary thought. 


Lately, I have become concerned about how media is training us to laugh. Current trends of sit-coms, comedy channel programming, and popular comics is a biting, sarcastic, mockery of anything and everything. This has spilled over into some of our students. Much of what is being laughed at is sexual, racial, or demeaning. The targets of this humor are institutions, virtue, leaders, and sadly, the weak and downcast.

It has always been like this in some way, but it appears more sadistic and dark. I recently went to an eagle scout ceremony. There were too many of the teens in attendance who were there to mock it and marginalize it.

In their minds they meant no harm. I was the bad guy for correcting them. But I said to more than one- "Do you feel like you have to mock or make fun everything? Don't ruin it for these guys families!" They just stared at me.  I wouldn't be surprised if later I was mocked for saying so.


A few years ago, I went to workout one night and happened to be right in front of a TV tuned to Olberman and Rachel Maddow.

I leaned to the Fox News kool-aid then and frequently watched Bill O'Reily. I am fully aware of the slugfest that goes on between the two. The NY Times is also frequently a target of attack.

Did I agree 100% will Bill O? No, not at all.

But that night, I was surprised to find the MSNBC mantra much worse than imagined.

I need to be honest- I don't think the news commentators are good for the unity of our country and I am beginning to believe the damage is irreparable. The viciousness and venom unleashed by the haters have gone too far for too long. Their lust for prosecution and vengeance is way over the line. These commentators mocked their opponents in cold sarcasm and disrespect- I was somewhat shocked by the brashness of it.

There is nothing wrong in being an honest critic and it is completely OK to be a democrat/republican. And yes, there are problems and extremists on both sides. I firmly believe I am more Christian than conservative.

But the degree of the cynicism shown that night on MSNBC was the worst I have ever seen- ... the poison IS that bad.

So right after the election this year  I made what will be a long time decision for me-  NO MORE CABLE NEWS. It has been WONDERFUL!..... The single eyed idol is no longer blinding me daily to the weakened state of a once proud union under God.

My hope is that we will not continue to grow as an illiterate nation. My prayer is that we find some semblance of unity. And my help is to watch the screens less and open His Word more.


ONE LAST NOTE: I can't help but notice that my i-phone is about the size of the average idol of Biblical times. It fits in my hand- it talks to me- it entertains me- it gives me great security.

Again- great tool- beneficial... but do I control it or does it control me?

Just some things to ponder as I move to a new year.

Please comment and give me your push-back or thoughts!

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