I sit, watching the hour of unconscious chaos on my TV that is the evening news. A macabre carousel of tragic scenes from around the globe fill my lounge room. Live crosses to crisp-suited reports standing among chaos consume my evening, delivering stories of terror through serious eyes that beam down camera lenses. I sit and think “this is it”… surely these are the end times?
Even celebrities are dying! That’s right. Rock legends are dwindling and terror is gripping our malleable, easily persuadable, gullible minds. The world is a dark and dangerous place where ideologies clash, celebrity legends die and imbeciles run countries… What sort of time do we live in? Is this the end times?
Yet, if I switch off my TV and get off Facebook, I look around me and something strange happens… The world is still the same. The sun rises and sets on cue and life goes on. Ironically, it’s in the darkness of a media blackout that I see the most light. I again have faith in people, goodness and the universe.
Don’t get me wrong. Unfortunately, there are indeed people living in hellish circumstances that go far, far beyond TV screen images and dramatic music. However, this has always been the case. There has always been horrific suffering in the world. Rock legends have also died and through horrific means such as assassination, drowning and plane crashes. Yet, if I read my Facebook feed today, I’d think the world had suddenly turned upside down and that celebrities were victims of a dangerous plot to kill rock and roll & movies.
This makes me wonder… are we living in the end times or; do we just feel that way because we’re now more connected to media and news than we’ve ever been in the past? The constant media bombardment and collective consciousness of social media make us feel as though we’re navigating dangerous and unprecedented times. However, the reality is that history is marred with suffering, tragedy and events that have made people feel that it must be the end of the world. These horrific events just weren’t shared on Facebook or beamed into our lounge rooms through high definition screens.
Surely Saint John thought the end of the world was nigh when he penned the dramatic book of revelation, as did the Japanese after the Hiroshima bombing, and so did the ‘doomsday preppers’ who built their own nuclear bunkers during the threat of the cold war? But the angry media mob mentality tells me the world is worse than it’s ever been? I’m sure WWI & WWII survivors, persecuted Jews, and the Cambodian’s who survived the Khmer Rouge would argue that they’ve seen hell on earth already. Yet, despite this, most people seem to think now, in this modern era of life-advancing technology, medical marvels and space exploration that we’re living in the real dark ages.
You see, mob or herd mentality goes beyond angry crowds in the street. Now, it’s become a giant living organism… an angry mob that can influence even the most strong-minded folk.
I believe that our constant connectedness to visual media is changing how we think. Now, we see the fear on the faces of children, we watch footage of innocent people being mowed down by a terrorist behind the wheel of a truck, and these images are powerful. They shift our thinking because humans are emotional beings. Witnessing horrific events does change the way we think about the world.
I’m not suggesting that ignorance is bliss and that, instead we should live in a world where we don’t feel empathy or don’t understand the issues of the world, I’m just questioning what effect this technological media connectedness is having on us. Whilst most news programs leave the last story to a feel good cat saved from a tree type scenario, that’s not nearly enough to cleanse us from the horror of believing the world is an evil place.
I do think that we all have a macabre fascination with drama and suffering and that somehow we have an innate fascination with it. It’s as if something deep in our psyche needs a fill of suffering and this is what the media play to. But constant exposure to TV news, social media and opinion is surely taking it all too far, and leading us to a point where we can’t help but questions – is this the end times?
So the short-term effect of instantaneous access to horrific world events is that we start to believe that everyone’s evil and that the world is going to end. But, what about long-term effects? What happens when we realise that, in fact, the word isn’t ending? Our mindset may shift 360 degrees and maybe we’ll become blase about tragedy and suffering? Surely constant exposure to the worst of humanity has to have an effect on our ability for empathy and compassion? I think we see this already to an extent, especially when it comes to the middle east and the refugee crisis. It now takes footage of a bloody injured child or, the dead body of a young boy drowned while seeking asylum to make us use terms like ‘reality’ and mention the ‘human face’ of war. Perhaps society will split into 2 groups – the ‘doomsday preppers’ and the nonchalant desensitised ones with injured empathy… Who knows?
Which way will you go?
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