A few years ago, I read an article that said people don’t have ideas - the ideas have the people. This blew my mind and changed my understanding of the media forever.
I felt enlightened by this new understanding, but also frustrated by how the world works. The influence of the media is undeniable. It has the power to shape our thoughts, beliefs and opinions in ways that we may not even be aware of. The media serves as a method of communication for all groups of people, but it is often controlled by the rich and powerful who have their own agendas.
The news coverage about Brexit seemed to be controlled by a few conglomerates who were attempting to establish the narrative that the “big boys” pushing their own agendas. The media has been a powerful weapon to control the masses, even before my time - especially after the Iraq War.
The first Iraq war started when I was young. My only interests were football and cartoons at the time. President George W. Bush attacked Saddam Hussein after invading Kuwait. To me at this young and impressionable age, it was like scenes right out of a movie. Visualising how the American planes bombed military targets in Iraq and then the Iraq military aircraft would retaliate by shooting at the sky trying to take down the US planes.
We took what the newspapers and the 6 PM news said as gospel. Regular people like my family and I did not understand that the media - the newspapers, TV channels, and online outlets - created and controlled the narrative. Everyone we knew, be they religious or non-religious, liberal or conservative, got their communication from the same sources, following the same narrative. The narrative controlled the population. And who controlled the media? Those with the money, of course.
The media is a machine that plants ideas into people's minds, usually in a subtle way through movies, articles and music. Then they water what they have planted untill it grows and develops.
I know what you’re thinking: how do I know if the ideas have a hold of me? How do I know that what I am thinking are my own original thoughts?
Honestly, I don’t know.
What I do know, is that ideas shape who we are. Some ideas have a very strong hold on me. Some were imposed by my parents, some were imposed by my friends and others were imposed by my daily surroundings. I too have fallen victim to the media like everyone else, and even more so now as our phones and tablets serve as mass media devices. Children as young as 4 nowadays hold a movie theatre in their hand every day. They are consuming all kinds of content, anywhere, and at any time. The content is defined by algorithms which target groups for political or financial reasons. This generation is like an agricultural field and all the ideas that are planted in their heads are constantly being fertilised and watered.
The media has immense power over us, and it is important to be aware of this influence. We must learn to think critically and question the information that is presented to us. We must also be mindful of the ideas that we hold, and consider whether they are truly our own, or if they have been planted by the media. Only by doing so can we hope to break free from the control of the media and think for ourselves.