Marrakech - While several arguments many observers have made decades ago have never been challenged and are still valid and sound, their sociopolitical hold has never actually been more insignificant than it currently is. The first of these arguments consisted in warning against the error of addressing all the members of a community in the same way and through the same channels and expect them all to hear, understand and be convinced equally by the same message and to react to it in the same manner. The second argument was that while multiplying the sources of information may increase the potential chances of making sense of it and of cross checking its authenticity, it may also affect its overall reliability, its credibility and its perceived relevance regardless of its absolute validity and quality.
Marrakech – While several arguments many observers have made decades ago have never been challenged and are still valid and sound, their sociopolitical hold has never actually been more insignificant than it currently is. The first of these arguments consisted in warning against the error of addressing all the members of a community in the same way and through the same channels and expect them all to hear, understand and be convinced equally by the same message and to react to it in the same manner. The second argument was that while multiplying the sources of information may increase the potential chances of making sense of it and of cross checking its authenticity, it may also affect its overall reliability, its credibility and its perceived relevance regardless of its absolute validity and quality.
Too much information kills information, goes the principle. The third argument highlighted the fear that overcrowding an environment with information of uncertain or conflicting origins may end either having information substituted to facts and/or creating hypothetical realities in some minds. The fourth argument, and the last that will be mentioned here, is that not all information will be transformed equally by all into knowledge and therefore will not have similar consequences on all destinies! Many will remain passive recipients of information swelling their egos as more of it catches them without ever integrating it in a system of constructing meaning or in a device that takes it out of the box to investigate imagination, invent and innovate.
Assessing the current public communication environment against criteria and standards one can derive from these arguments, one can but conclude to a dramatic discredit of both the theory underlying them and the lessons learned from the actual practice of real people who have either succeeded in their undertakings or failed. In fact, not only is the record terrible, but the prospects are hazardous. One would have expected the current immense multiplicity of sources of information and of the warehouses processing it into news and broadcasting it to create a global communication environment that would be truly diverse and highly competitive. Professionalism would have meant the enhancement of competition on the basis of endeavors respectful of the intelligence of audiences and working towards satisfying their needs not only by keeping them informed but also critically aware of the crucial issues, ideas and debates that animate their society.
The situation, however, is that neither the fiercely economic and political conflicting interests nor the deadly competition for audience and for selling contrary and opposing messages to invite different behaviors have called for the professionalism that one would expect for the delivery of such services. Instead, the media warehouses have been acting as if none of those arguments were of any concern to them or worth their attention. They package information, each in their way, but all as if their audiences were one and indivisible and as if their mission were to construct uniform worlds, cultivate unquestionable convictions and create ruthless passions. They conceal viable options by:
(i) Oppressing the faculty to select,
(ii) Oversimplifying complex issues by occulting variety and diversity,
(iii) Over generalizing unique and single events,
(iv) Assuming audiences are stupid, or in any case less intelligent than the media producers,
(v) Trying hard to suppress any tendency of independent thinking or critical reflection,
(vi) Drawing conclusions that no logic supports,
(viii) Introducing new information at paces that can hardly be kept up with,
(ix) Juxtaposing news that are conceptually not congruous to each other,
(x) Jumping from mass killings to rock concerts to sports events to news about scientific innovation to threats to the environments to animal sexual habits, etc. with no transitions recognizable to the most alert minds resulting in a programmed blur of boundaries between the real and the unreal, the factual and the hypothetical, the here and now and prospect would be furred.
They end up jamming minds, memories and imaginations. When they pretend to be intelligent, they set up talk shows, interviews and conversations, to which they invite the least qualified and the most impartial individuals to address the issues they France for them to discuss with language that makes complex things seem very simple and simple ones more complex than they really are, etc. The idea is manipulate both reality and minds.
With such a public communication model, people are made to live in worlds that have no real existence and that are present only in the minds and imaginations of the promotors of communication warehouses. Values are thus assigned to groups of people, ideologies are presented as facts, phantasm as reality and emotions and passions as natural motivations to comfort interests or to dismantle an establishment. Discourses, images and sounds are made up in laboratories and pushed as matter of fact everyday life. Owners of lands are presented as imposters and imposters and spoilers of others’ land as legitimate heirs. Highway robbery and crimes against whole peoples are presented as civilization driven actions, hate crimes as religious teachings, wars for strategic interests as humane protection of universal values, sales of arms as support of revolutions, and crushing revolutions as supporting international legitimacy, etc. What was not seen suddenly becomes prominently blinding and what was taken for granted suddenly ceases to convince and is condemned as obviously guilty. What was welcome becomes unwanted and yesterday’s enemies become allies and yesterday’s allies become enemies.
Talking to those who are supposed to be more able to analyze, to remove obscurity and help us understand and see clearly into things has not been of much assistance lately. The most earnest of them, too, have given up. Their rational, disciplined and methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, have been failing them. The failure was gradual and went unnoticed until the melting point had long been stricken. The melting process affected the sensitivity and the accuracy of the interpretation grids through which they made sense of coalitions, alliances and belligerence and of how they are made and unmade. The unpredictable global nature of the metamorphosis of attitudes and the unprecedented acceleration courses of the loss of reference frameworks have been such that the melting point was struck without these professional observers and analysts being aware of the amalgamation they had operated in what used to distinguish brother and foe, friend and traitor, north and west, south and east. G points have changed and compasses gone crazy! Communication disintegrates and becomes something else, or let us say, it has ended up becoming exactly what it was supposed never to become.
p.s. Whoever needs examples for this discussion, please recover your critical faculties and review the events that have been shaking the world from the perspective of competing media.
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