“We do not react to reality. We react to our perception of reality.”
The Blind Men and the Elephant
In a famous ancient story, a group of blind men are taken to an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one of them touches a different part, but only one part – the side, or the tusk, or the tail, etc. Later on, when they compare notes, they are in complete disagreement.
More or less, we are in a very similar situation in regard to the way we get informed about what is going on in the world. If you follow the streaming news, coming from different news agencies and media, you get different images. At times the versions of the “elephant”, as presented by CNN, ITAR TASS, Xinhua, Al-Jazeera, BBC, Euronews, Jiji Press, The Economist, or by Washington Post, to mention just a few, can be so strikingly discrepant, that you get close to believe they are not related to the same event. And if you are persistently inquisitive to understand what in fact is doing the “elephant” living next to you in the global village, you have a difficult problem.
We have to live with the understanding that nobody in the current world is philanthropic to the degree to financially support a huge organization with hundreds of journalists, reporters in all corners of the planet, cameramen, supporting staff, communications and information processing equipment, etc., with the only purpose to provide us with comprehensive, objective and unbiased reporting of major developments happening around the world. The reality is that each news agency and each media, without exception, have their own political, commercial or other, sometimes not very transparent, agenda. They may wish to organize support for whom they consider the best candidate for mayor, member of the parliament, senator or for president of the country. Very naturally for the tough competition environment and with consideration for the hostile diversity of the news market, each media is fighting for your attention, for your trust, and ultimately – for your action. And if we are presented with reality-checked and contents-balanced news, it is only a by-product, created within the efforts to avoid us pressing the crucial “unfollow” button on their site.
The main product of the news agencies and media corporations, however, can raise certain issues of civilizational concern.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs
Following their agenda, every single microsecond of our time, the news agencies and media dissect the informational “elephant” of the world into small fragments. Then influential journalists, supported by powerful analytical departments with top professionals in social psychology, behavioural sciences, politics, propaganda etc., carefully select the most promising chunks, cook them, strictly following the recipes of the company cookbook, and finally garnish and serve to their followers through the newspapers, Internet, TV and radio stations, social media. Even if you have no particular interest in politics, your favourite music channel will never miss to update you every thirty minutes about the developments in the world. And the wording, intonation, mimics, body language, background picture, sound and other visible and invisible components subtly, but systematically and relentlessly, shape your perception of what is going on. Unknowingly, you get to gradually understand who the bad guys are, and who are the heroes of our time. Without ever meeting any of them, and without any direct evidence who exactly did what. Being part of the process, day after day, month after month, year after year, these cooked pieces of the “elephant” rearrange, like puzzle, and constitute in your mind the rigid image of a black and white world, where the noble knights are fighting fierce war with the evil. And you feel you are needed for the victory that will save the humanity and make you a hero. As a result, you have already been turned into a soldier. One of the blind soldiers in a platoon on the battlefield where many other platoons of other blind soldiers are fighting each other. Each with their own image of the enemy, but all under the standards of those who finance the media production.
Once taken to that point, it is easy for the managers of the project to make you press the button of the computer mouse as a troll, to operate the joystick of a drone launching missiles, or to pull the trigger of a real gun.
At a moment like that, when you are about to take someone’s life, you already have no ground for moral consideration in terms of justice, because you have been taken away the instruments for seeing the true reality, and you are not any more a free independently thinking individual. You are involved in a cause, which is not your cause, but just a chip implanted without your consent into the program of your human existence. Your views, your emotional attitude, and, consequently, your decisions and actions, have gradually been predetermined. And that degrades you one more level downwards – that makes you a slave.
A blind slave.
With deep respect for the great names of world’s top professional journalism, who, refusing to be a part of technologies against human dignity, have decided to resign from their prestigious positions, or were sacked by their managers, and especially for those of them who lost their lives, defending the shrines of truth and justice, I want to quote the words of a non-human who never existed:
“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”
Roy Batty, “Blade Runner”