I hope you’ve all had a good and cooler week (for those of you in the UK). As we head off into the weekend for time with family and friends I’d just like to give a few words about how to keep happy.
No doubt, one of the things most of us will do is watch some TV, go see a movie, and that kind of thing. All this is fun. However, we also have to make sure that we understand EVERYTHING media does to us when we engage with it so passively, especially where images are involved. The first thing mass media aims to do is to get us to feel a certain way, and usually these are feelings of inadequacy, fear, laughter, and loneliness.
Inadequacy will almost always come from advertising. It may make you feel like you are not enough when you probably are; it makes you think that what you want is what you need. Watch out for this! Wanting something and needing it are very different. Fear will usually come from the news, persuading you that one problem in the world or country might be bigger than it actually is. This will give you assumptions about the world even if you don’t’ fully agree with the message. Laughter might come from a comedy or something funny in a film. However, make sure you know whether or not the humour adheres to your principles. For example, last night I indulged in Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight’ and was surprised how much I enjoyed seeing the glee of Marquis and Chris Mannix when they finally hung Daisy. I told myself ‘I hate violence, so why am I enjoying this?’ Food for thought. Loneliness may come whenever you hear of plans which don’t include you, or see how much fun your friends are having on social media. Maybe its not that you’re alone and forgotten, but maybe things just didn’t work out this particular weekend to meet up with that particular group of friends. What about the plans you’ve made which forgot someone without intending to exclude them? Maybe next time circumstances will make it easier for you all to meet. If these are the right friends, why not suggest something yourself for next weekend? In the meantime, maybe there’s something you can do tomorrow that you haven’t done for ages but really enjoy, or maybe just ring up a friend you have not been in touch with for a while.
Part of being a ThinkCitizen is about knowing how messages in mass media are trying to make you feel, then giving yourself authority over those messages through thinking and asking the right questions – ‘Is this how things really are?’ ‘Are the messages distorted just to get you to spend money on this or be afraid of that?’
I hope you have happy weekends, and catch you all this time next week.