TED Conversations

Mitch SMith


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Media and the divide of harm

That which goes between us is our media.

Colin Stokes asks us: Are we served by our media? He asks us: Are the movies we watch skewing the functions of our roles?

Here is Anne Summers aproaching the question from a broader outlook, but a narrower focus of intention:

But can we draw back further and discern broader implications?

If this is all true and that which is between us "media" is skewd from our benefit - what is the gap? What is it we are missing? We percieve harm, but what exactly is this harm?

I will lay down 2 ways to approach these questions:

1. Our world views consist of personal experience, and the report of the experience of others. That which we accept in report is assumption - untested, and yet we accept it as if seen by our own eyes. Here is one gap - can we truly separate our own experience from false artifacts in our media? If we can - are we training ourselves and our children to make thesse distinctions?

2. The deficit between Broadcast and Transactional media. In all broadcast media, there is only one active participant - the broadcaster. The reciever is entirely passive - In theatre we call this the "suspension of disbelief" - the material of the broadcast is taken as reality, and yet it is rarely tested. In transactional media, each participant mediates passivity by questioning - are we losing the art of the question?

I argue that the underlying principle goes before modern forms such as movies and internet. I argue that the absurdity of our broadcast-propagandised diet has its seeds well into the past - that it arises from an far older harm which is perpetuated in our media.

I name that harm violence. And I place it squarely at the door of the alpha male - and his ultimate form: the psychopath.

Here is Sapolski revealing the violent patriarchal culture of baboons, and the alternative matriarchal culture of baboons:

Can we learn from this?


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  • Jan 23 2013: Image happens to be powerful as Cameron Russell mentions in her talk.
    And consequently, the message that an image tries to show us could be harmful or beneficial.
    Well-plotted stories are quite the most influential ones.
    Yet, ironically, those kinds of things rather make us raise more profound and broader questions to ourselves.

    When I was a teen, I couldn't help watching all those K-pop stars’ music videos and stuffs like that 'cause they looked so pretty and nice.
    I knew it was meaningless and useless for me to watch all those stuffs, but all of their images in media literally captured my eyes.
    It might have influenced the way I think of fashion or one’s appearance, but there was this inkling that I should stop being fooled by them.
    I knew those could be a bad influence because there was a possibility that I could be obsessed with looking "cool" as most of my friends wanted to be.

    "are we losing the art of the question?"

    I think we're not losing it. We're just ignoring it.

    And again, ironically, what taught me to realize that images can be ‘superficial’ is media.

    There surely are 'good stuffs' on TV, internet, and Youtube.

    I try to extract good messages from them and then ask myself what I can learn from them.

    Now I often—sometimes smirkingly—smile when I happen to watch all that fancy music videos, which are rather focused on fascinating images, not music in itself(I’m not saying that all music videos are, but quite many of them are.)

    Once they captured my eyes, but now I can think of them as some sort of ridiculous dreams.

    Media experience can teach us better.
    …which brings us back to your vey question, Mitch.
    (We’re not just meant to be passive.)

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      Jan 24 2013: THe story that we see is all of the ego. THe ego lives in the autobiographical self.
      Here we tell stories - the stories are to make predictions - if it turns out OK, we try it.

      But the autobiographical self is not our true self - it is our true self that has no words - it has the body, it has the senses and it has the muscles. The true self is what Damasio calls the core-self. OUr body and its feelings are the proto-self.

      My work shows me that there are many many selves in the story-place. I also know how the stories can be twisted.
      We have "world-view" which is the total of all our maps of life - but these maps should be from our life. The stories in media become part of our maps - and it is not our life. This is where the gap lives - our world view does not know the difference between experience and fiction. And the only way to tell the difference is to ask or try. Try can be fatal .. best ask first.
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          Jan 26 2013: Hi Mike,

          The world view is like a predicion space.
          It serves us really well for the most part.
          The problem is that media is "pre-fabricated" perception. One has to observe the crafting to know if harm and poisons have not been added in that fabrication.

          I agree that such social media sites as TED consume enormous chunks of our "agency" .. and it is well not paid for. These things will ultimately collapse along with all the other parasitic forces chewing on us - the host must eventually collapse for lack of value returned. We all have to eat.

          The good thing is that the true value producer will come out on top .. I applaud your shift towards value.

          In the mean time, forums like TED act as catalyst to precipitate more people into understanding true value. THose who persist in pushing paper and coins around and destroy value in the name of civilisation will be somewhat bewildered when their willing horse vanishes from under them.

          We are here devising the arts of vanishing .. there is value in that ;)

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