Friday 8 October 2010

Mass media addiction, habituation, tolerance - here, now

Secular modern life is adapted to deal with 'problems' by distraction, by thinking about something else.

The mass media (the system of modern remote communications) have grown and specialised to grab and hold attention, and are a major mechanism by which this happens.

Roughly, the mass media have replaced Christianity in the West (as one grew, the other shrank) - the media is oppositely aimed than Christianity (worldly, hedonic), but performs a similar general function (not their main function) - i.e. creating and sustaining a psychological state of social connection.

The mass media is philosophy, it is religion - how else do people connect?

(The connection is almost entirely illusory, one-sided - that is what mass media means; but displaces real connection though occupying motivation, time and attention.)

(And mass media have evolved, become more efficient - now many people, perhaps especially women, accord the media greater validity than their surrounding lives - live in accord with the media ethos whatever or despite the ethos of surrounding culture.)


But the primary role of Christianity and the mass media lie behind this social function: Christianity carries the message of salvation, the purposes of media are a melange of mind-shaping aims from the producers of the media and the paymasters. Purposes are often political/ philosophical/ ethical - often commercial. Increasingly short-termist (as, by a Gresham's Law, bad currency displaces good; as inflation takes grip).


As things are now in the West, people are addicted to the mass media: they need doses frequently or else they will lose connection, will feel dead, will drift without (short term) purpose. Because if people withdraw from the media and cut-off from it, they experience rebound effects.

Rebound effects are the opposite of the stimuli: if the media generate excitement then people who have withdrawn from media will be bored, if the media provide conversation topics then withdrawn people will not have anything to discuss, if the media frame leisure then they will have 'nothing to do'.

Habituation is a basic biological principle - repeated stimuli cease to command attention. So the media must generate novelty - novelty is imperative.  This leads to endemic dishonesty - truth must continually be sacrificed to novelty. This leads to endemic ugliness - beauty must continually be sacrificed to novelty. This leads to moral corruption - virtue must continually be sacrificed to novelty.

Tolerance is a frequent finding in pharmacology - the dose must be increased to produce the same effect. So the media must continually increase the volume.There is no such thing as enough, there is no restraint, there is no feedback - there is no balance point, no stopping point short of collapse.


It is obvious, therefore, how and why the media and Christianity are reciprocal; that society is undergoing progressive corruption; and how very far we are away from a good society - so far that we have lost the ability (an ability common to all previous human societies) of even conceptualising the nature of things, of the human condition.

1 comment:

xlbrl said...

Everything rings true.

I ditched the television four years ago and am devoted to it's absence.