Suspend judgment, then, and ponder what has been said tonight until you receive further instructions.

-thus President  Harold B. Lee.

Bruce Charlton has done some excellent writing on the mass media.  If you have not read Addicted to Distraction, do.

One obvious problem with the mass media (which includes social media and entertainment), is the propaganda.  All stories are spun in favor of That Hideous Strength/the Cathedral/the Great and Spacious Building.  Stories not in their favor are often just ignored.  Stories that are are hugely hyped.  Lies are told.

But that is only one head of the hydra.

Another is the way the mass media trivialize everything:

The mass media simply eliminates all serious concerns. These are (in statistical terms) never included – indeed, when serious concerns are name-checked, the mass media is ‘about’ seriousness, rather than being itself serious – which is a further suppression of seriousness.

A person or a movement, of truly deep spiritual and/or religious significance, is presented in terms of an encapsulated story ‘about’ something serious and important – how people are reacting-to this phenomenon. The seriousness is simply encapsulated and discussed – the seriousness never itself appears.Supposing that the topic is life beyond death – the subject may be mentioned, but treated as a thing some people believe,:personalities, controversies, ridicule… whatever. What will not happen is an engagement with the signiifcance of the truth of life beyond death.

-thus Bruce Charlton.

Worse, regardless of content, the mass media is fundamentally organized as distraction.  That is what it “wants” as a system.

The main problem with modern media addiction is that it shapes the way people think.

For a start, it takes-up attention for a large and increasing proportion of the day. . . .

Then the attention is grabbed, manipulated, switched – again and again, thousands of times a day – This trains the mind positively to expect and want such attention switching; and negatively to become unable to hold attention – and rapidly to become bored by situations that lack this stream of attention-grabbing and rapidly changing stimuli.

Furthermore – this grabbing and switching of attention leads to an assumption of the ‘randomness’. the unrelatedness of events and phenomena… the mind-set of ‘coincidence theory’ (i,e, the opposite of conspiracy theory). A mind-set is created by the mass’social media which believes and expects a world of ‘and then, and then, and then’. A world without organisation, a world without control, a world without purpose, a world without blame – a world where ‘stuff just happens’…

-thus Bruce Charlton.  This seems to be the problem the prophets warn us most about.  One should not be sitting in sacrament meeting, on the edge of eternity, liking breakfast pics on your smartphone.

But it goes beyond that.  The 0ther fundamental, structural drive of the mass media is the drive for reaction, the drive for opinion.  It may even be the fundamental drive.

The mass media want instant reaction.  There is not and can be no time for suspending judgment, for contemplating, for thinking.  You do not consider what your friend has said on Facebook–you just “like” it.  The news tells you that a story is developing but then cuts out to an expert for a reaction anyway.  The expert says “its still early to say, but . . . ”  And what follows that but is opinion.  Then the man on the street is asked for his opinion.  Then we share our own opinions via social media or polls.  We all have an opinion on everything, and when new information comes in, we either filter it through the opinion we already have, or violently react by lurching to a new opinion on the opposite extreme.  Opinion makes information our master.  The  modern world is sick with opinions and reactions, which is to say, with overwhelming and continuous rash and unconsidered judgments.  Our democracy is sick because voting has become opinion.  The Great and Spacious Building is made of opinion.  Nothing is stable, nothing is sane.

With opiniona hath no man a house of good stone

each block cut smooth and well fitting

that design might cover their face,

with opiniona

hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall

Judge not unrighteous judgment, lest ye be judged.


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