Sunday, July 20, 2014

fighting the mass media addiction


In Addicted to Distraction Bruce Charlton argues that “the mass media is evil - indeed in modernity it is the very source and focus of evil.” He believes that the only way to deal with mass media is to avoid it, and that “the most dangerous delusion is that you personally can filter the Mass Media, decode and see through its biases, selections and lies to discern the truth of the situation.”

He tells us that overcoming this addiction will be unpleasant in the short term but that the long-term rewards make the effort worthwhile.

I have myself tried, reasonably successfully, to break my addiction to the mass media. I do not watch any contemporary television. I do not watch any movies made within the past thirty years, and very few made within the past fifty years. I do not read contemporary fiction. I avoid newspapers. I cannot say that I have broken the addiction entirely but I think I can say that I have gone a long way towards doing so. And it is worth doing. 

I have to admit that my own cure has been a partial one. The difficulty with going cold turkey on mass media is to find a substitute. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys gardening or going for long walks. I’m the sort of person who avoids exercise like the plague. I have no interest in sports or games. My own solution is to immerse myself in the past. 

I still watch television; I just don’t watch the television of today. I still watch movies but the movies I watch are generally movies made seventy or eight years ago. I read novels, but I confine myself to novels written prior to the Second World War. I do not lack for entertainment. In fact I find myself facing an embarrassment of riches. Not only do I still get entertainment - the entertainment provided by the popular culture of the past is infinitely superior to that provided by the dreck that constitutes modern popular culture.

I’m not sure that Bruce Charlton would regard me as cured. He might well think that my cure is a bit of a cheat. I still consume popular culture even if I limit myself to the popular culture of the past. I have to admit that my approach is something of a compromise but then life is very often a matter of accepting compromises. 

My own view is that the mass media is certainly toxic, and that it becomes more toxic with each passing year. By confining my exposure to popular culture to the popular culture of the past I at least avoid the more virulent strains. There is still a good deal of propaganda in the movies and television of the past but opposing viewpoints do occasionally get a hearing. The propaganda is less strident, and not so remorseless. It is easier to avoid the more extreme propaganda. In the past there was still room for dissenting voices.

Avoiding mass media altogether is unquestionably a desirable goal. Those unready to take such a drastic step might find that my approach has something to recommend it. 

I have found that the more I focus on the past the more rewarding it becomes. My enthusiasm for the books, movies and television of the past has led me to create several blogs devoted to these subjects - Vintage Pop Fictions (devoted to pre-1960 genre fiction),  Classic Movie Ramblings (dealing with the movies of the past) and Cult TV Lounge (television of the 50s, 60s and 70s).

My main motivation in starting these blogs was that almost every existing blog and website I’d found devoted to these subjects had a leftist bias. 


1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Doom

    Now I know why you don't post as often, your cheating on your own blog....with "your other blog"!

    Well 3 other blogs.

    Having said that you've certainly put in a lot of work into them. I'd be very interested to see a review of the 1956 movie "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit".

    Mark moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

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