A challenge to read like your life depends on it.
So I am about three chapters into Naomi Klein’s new book, The Shock Doctrine, and my blood is already running cold.
State structures and administrations may discredit movies that challenge preferred cultural norms and political systems because of their potential for mobilising mass audiences – just think of the recent criticisms leveled at Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, for example.
Yet if a counter-hegemonic message comes packed as a 400-odd-page novel, it’s all good. It’s harmless, because only a tiny percentage of the populous will read a book.
Visual media: Geared for mindless entertainment
The visual media, for all its emotional muscle, induces an insidious audience stasis. If something is on film, it is at some level always fictional and aimed to entertain – or “inspired by life”, at the worst. Somehow, nothing that can be said on screen can principally harm global power mongers or environmentally criminal states, as the overwhelming majority of visual messages support the status quo.
The rest are dismissed as the ramblings of alarmists, conspiracy theorists and opportunistic indie-heads, nothing more.
By the same token, the seemingly limitless information gateway that is the Internet seems to have bred this sort of dumb-smug-complacency, this false sense of security that whatever we need to know will always be right there, just a click away.
You know you must read it, so you just hit Add To Favourites and leave it for a rainy day.
The Man is banking on the fact that you don’t read further than the pay-off line.
And in most cases, The Man is 100% right – people sustain their personal comfort and safety bubbles by scanning feature articles and headlines, without ever really engaging with the subject matter.
If I don’t have all the facts, then surely I won’t be faced with the need to make any serious decisions, nor be accountable for the consequences of those choices, right..?
Increasingly, the very media through which content is disseminated is slowly drifting towards the watered-down and shallow side of the spectrum.
RSS headlines, the “day’s news” (that’s 24 hours worth) in 60 seconds, chopped-down content for mobile devices and nicely packaged vox-pop driven TV reportage is taking the meat out our news and information, and replacing it with eye-catching, mind-averting candy floss.
And our lounge-conditioned Western brains are lapping this fluff up and reveling in it.
The truth is that the truth – the information that empowers us to protect our civil and ecological liberties – is unfortunately often locked up inside long feature articles.
Any hardened journo would tell you that truth-seeking is not an instant gratification activity. It is a process, and it takes effort to get to the bottom of things.
Be an investigative reader
Read hard, think hard, and share your findings and conclusions with others.
Whatever you do, do NOT be content to graze on whatever meager “instant information” fares they so badly want to feed you. Resist the temptation to resign yourself to following the Shallow Opinion Herd.
Because that herd is off to the slaughter.