FREEDOM’S ENEMY 3 – Print Media

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There was a time when I bought magazines. I would purchase one, scour the thing, and then file it away as if I might one day need it for reference. And then I would buy another one and do the same thing. And then another. Over time I had myself a nice little collection of magazines with bygone information – taking up space and not worth a thing. As newsprint publications go, I used to pick up the monthly national music review paper, the odd local paper, and any number of local scene rags. Then I would compel myself to read them from front to back – feeling fragmentary otherwise. I would eventually get backlogged in my reading and the papers also would start to pile up.

I don’t know when I finally shook this obsessive pattern, but looking back it certainly feels like a load off.

Magazines are just slim glossy booklets with a few articles scattered throughout to get you to buy hundreds of adverts at a time. If the articles are helpful or interesting at all, you can find them anywhere on the internet, albeit couched in less advertising. Newspapers are slightly more insidious. Sure there’re fewer ads, but The Big 6 mega-corporations decide what goes into them, and the articles are thus designed either to create a sense of fear and overwhelm or to mould you into a better consumer. They give you a deviously slanted perspective of the world happening outside your door. When you are absorbed within the media’s version of the world, it can be difficult to remember how wonderfully free and surrounded by opportunity you are.

Magazines and newspapers contribute little that’s positive and little of any value to our lives. I recall, a while back, declaring a self-imposed exile from most media sources. I decided that the time and energy spent following, reading, and thinking about the latest mediocre band that the hipsters love this half-hour, or who’s doing who in Hollywood, would be better spent on making my life rock. When I eventually pulled my head out of the sand again, I wondered why everyone was talking so disparagingly about that sweet and lovely actress from Mean Girls.

Perhaps worst of all, paper media sources are an ecologically unsound means of receiving information. With the vast wealth of data that people seek, use, and peruse today, the paper model is unsustainable. Moreover, with instantaneous access to online, as-it-happens data, the print-and-distribution process is inefficient. Stale as it hits the stands.

The Cloud not only contains anything and everything that you can find in the traditional sources, it also affords us countless alternative views for forming a better rounded picture of our universe.

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2 responses to “FREEDOM’S ENEMY 3 – Print Media

  1. For a valid counter-argument, read this interesting post on following world news and living with empathy by Sam Spurlin:
    http://www.thesimplerlife.net/2011/02/23/obliviousness-valid-path-simplicity/

    A few quotes:

    “Why Obliviousness Is Not a Valid Path to Simplicity”
    “…limiting the amount of information that you face is a great way to simplify your life. I also firmly believe that having a good understanding of major world events and issues is very important. These two ideas can come into conflict with each other quite easily. In fact, I’ve seen many minimalists write about how they don’t follow world events or the news at all. It’s almost a point of pride to be completely oblivious to what is going on in the world. Every time I read that particular piece of advice I cringe. The social studies teacher inside me won’t let me forego understanding and following world events in the name of greater simplicity….”

    “Why should we care?
    An understanding of the world and the dynamics within it adds important aspects to our lives. Becoming obsessed with that which you cannot control isn’t healthy, but neither is obliviousness to the travails and problems of the world around you.”

    “Build empathy…
    Knowing about conflicts happening across the world will help you build empathy for other humans. But only if you go beyond being aware of conflicts and move into understanding the issues surrounding them.”

    “We risk shutting off our capacity to empathize with others when we disregard the events they are living through.”

    “We live in a world too interconnected to expect to live completely isolated from one another. Utilize your tools intelligently to regulate the stream of information that is coming your way at all times but don’t hide from it. The problems of the world are not just for those experiencing them at the moment. We all have a responsibility to understand and work toward a more harmonious world in whatever form that may take.”

    Food for thought 🙂

  2. Thanks for the comment Kimmy. You know I could be wrong, I frequently am, but let’s look deeper…

    For starters, was your Social Studies teacher a happy person? Mine neither. And the fact that Mr. Spurlin plays that card to position himself at a higher point of understanding irks me somewhat.

    Spurlin is a fine writer, but I disagree with his view nearly entirely. I don’t feel like I need the local paperboy to bring me a handful of garbage in order for me to “build empathy” for other humans. It already exists deep within my soul. It has existed there long before I have. Knowing that humans are suffering on the other side of the world fucks with my heart, but I also know that suffering has never NOT been a part of life.

    It is very simplistic, and awfully high-and-mighty, to consider that the conscious choice of avoiding bad news is “obliviousness”. I believe that once you learn that consciousness is the organizing principle of matter, and that the power of thought affects the material world, it is beneficial to all to practice due care for the soul. The steps that minimalists take (yes, even avoiding the news) are intended to bring us closer to the purest values of human existence, not further from them. Our ability to empathize could scarcely be “shut off” by an ignorance in world events.

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