Through the Media People Are Losing Individual Self

I had a dream several nights ago, in this world beyond my conscious mind human kind was undergoing another type of evolution. Instead of transgressing into another supreme being, these individuals were becoming a sedentary form of who they were at the beginning. Their minds were becoming void of any separatist mentality – they were all becoming one. Their hair began to shape itself into one repetitious style. Their outward appearance began mocking those of others; all idiosyncratic personality traits were beginning to dissolve into a vat of monotony. Every human walked with his or her head downcast, their shoulders shrugged, and their spirits void of true fulfillment. As I walked among these dejected and lethargic persons my mind finally took grasp of what was happening. Humanity was surely evolving, but not for actual mental and spiritual growth – but we as humans were developing into a metallic form of ourselves.

After I awoke, I did what most individuals do when they first resume consciousness. I turned on my television, and went about my business, glancing at the images every few moments or so. It was then that a ionic epiphany rose in my mind – why did I turn on the television, when really I’m not even watching it? It has become such a habit to engross my mind with beautifully false imagery from the television, even if I had no intention to actually sit down. I realized that it was a habit, that I would rather view a false sunrise than glance out of my bay windows and view the glorious symphony of colors. Throughout my years I have chosen to fulfill the void of my mind with television than to inspire my soul with the natural inclinations of the world around me. I quickly turned the switch to off, giving my television an uneasy slumber. As I strolled to my window seat, I opened up the blinds to let the purifying rays of the morning sun flood my room – as well as my mind. Sitting, it was hard not to notice my neighbors’ homes. As I unobtrusively observed them in their natural habitats, they all shared one common bond, that of television along with all other forms of media. No matter how different each individual was, every one of them could become of one mindset when it comes to their form of entertainment and information.

As I sat and watched, it became extremely evident that we live in an electronically and commercialized state of living. Our lives have become so overly saturated with the constant influx of outside influences, we are beginning to disconnect with our primal selves. We are starting to become a commercialized state of humanity. According to George Gerbner’s preface in the book Television and its Viewers: Cultivation Theory and Research authored by James Shanahan and Michael Morgan, Gerbner stated that “[M]ost of what we know, or think we know, we have never personally experienced.” (1) That statement has stood true ever since the invention of mass-produced media by the means of television. If we think back fifty years ago, and someone was to ask what it was like to live in New Zealand, more than ninety percent of the population in America wouldn’t be able to answer their query. Thus an interest was sparked in the unknowledgeable individual(s) and they would then search out the answers – ultimately ending with a visit to the specific location. An entire life experience was created by the lack of knowledge, but in today’s society if you want to literally visit New Zealand without having to leave the country you can via television channels like Discovery’s Travel Channel or the Internet. As a society we are beginning to replace actual experiences with artificial imagery fed to us through the feeding-tubes of conglomerates. According to George Gerbner our cultural environment is increasingly being monopolized, homogenized and globalized by the electronic age we are currently residing in (2).

The issue of the over saturation of the media is we are beginning to loose our true unique identity. Never in history has there been such an overabundance of commercialization and unification of cultures. The theory of mass tribalization was first conceived by George Gerbner under the title of “The Cultivation Theory.” Under the threshold of this theory, Gerbner stated that he believes every culture would begin an intertwining process, which would ultimately develop into one main culture. Anyone who is alive in the modernized western world can concede the notion that being an individual is a rarity – if even possible. So what does this mean for our cultures? Basically, the latter entails to a world of problems. While the connection of people is a positive one, that of overturning certain cultures and traditions for profitable gain is one that is changing the look of our world. Societies are now beginning to loose their individual personalities and are beginning to adopt the mindset, morals and spiritual personifications that the media is intercepting into our minds. By doing this we are becoming not an individual, not even a human made from years of cultural growth and human exploration. George Gerbner said it best when he stated that “[T]he cultural environment in which we live becomes the byproduct of marketingâÂ?¦.[G]iant industries discharge their messages into the mainstream of common consciousness.” (3)

We as a society are putting all of our faith and trust in the media, by which doing so we are allowing the various facets of mass-communication to mold our mental and spiritual selves. We are allowing someone else to decide how and what we learn as well as what we perceive as truth. We have become a culture of sloth’s, content in reclining in our lazy-boy recliners while we allow alien messages from advertising agencies invade our minds and transform our thinking patterns. We are beginning to replace cellular growth with celluloid expansion. The significance of reading skills no longer has a sway for employers, as long as the employee can operate as a machine and perform various monotonous tasks than he or she is guaranteed job placement.

In our society there is no longer a pushing of mental stimulation. We are becoming very content by letting our minds slip into the sea of conformity. We as humans are entering into a very dangerous territory when we begin to loose touch with our primitive selves. Each and every one of us contains a certain variable, possibly just a molecule or two that has not been affected by the numbing effect of the media. We must acknowledge these minute impulses before we become no greater than the stoplight. We must change our habits before it is too late and we have stepped into a world where there is no individual thought, where humankind is taught by the money-hungry executives of conglomerates – and even their tactics aren’t being freshly innovative.

We must turn off our television sets, step outside, and allow the wetness of the morning dew on the blades of grass begin to saturate the soles of our feet as the rays of sunlight penetrate your skin and begin to waken our soul. We as a society must dig deep inside of the coating of unnecessary filth we have allowed to conform around our spirits. Because lets face it, who wants to live in a commercial?

Morgan Michael, Shanahan James, Gerbner George. Television and its Viewers: Cultivation
Theory and Research. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1999.

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