Monday, December 18, 2006

The Presses Are Rolling - All Over Us

I understand that newspapers are losing readership to electronic media, but I also hear that newspaper publishers everywhere are being bid for at rising prices. What is going on?

Freedom of the press has been the approved moral position of our culture for centuries. During those same years, however, monopolization of the press &mdash which began with moveable type and now charges ahead in this mystifying time of digital "yes" and "no" &mdash has had its loyal supporters.

In the sea of media in which we are engulfed, there is an endless supply of such contradictory stances. We have mounting evidence of the dreadful cost to society of obesity, together with increasingly skillful manipulation of our eating habits by advertising agencies (in the direction of more calories). We witness encroaching centralized control of media, and simultaneously unfettered freedom for individuals, as exemplified by this very blog (among millions). We are lectured to by those who would guide us to financial freedom through prudent savings, and we are overwhelmed by vendors promising us: "Buy now, and don't pay anything for 12 months!"

Free enterprise and freedom of the press must mean that we are free to read, to look, to listen, to do whatever we like. No doubt there are some who turn everything off as they go about their mental lives, but they are indeed few. Most of us abhor silence, and welcome input. When forced to wait, we pick up something to read or listen to or even to watch. Of course, it must be our own fault if, in so doing, we invite pressures on ourselves &mdash or is it?

Philosophize as we will, in the meantime the free presses are rolling, and rolling all over us. All this begs the question: Are we as "free" as they are? That should make us think. At least we are still free to do that &mdash the last time I checked.


At 9:33 PM, Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Yes, we are still free to think. Pity it's a freedom our polititians and a large portion of the American population rarely takes advantage of.

News today is mostly advertising with little snippets of spin slipped in between. The real challenge is knowing the difference.

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Whitesnake said...

Refer to the above Comment....

I can't believe I agreed with him!

Must be something i ate....

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

Happy holidays Don. Thanks for this great, thought-provoking blog. We enjoy your insight and sometimes agree:-)

At 10:48 AM, Blogger LaurieM said...

From birth we are conditioned and constrained by the necessity of survival to align our thinking with that of our family and society. Yet as social animals, humans require a context of a group in order to exist.

So where does the group end and the individual begin? And how can we define freedom? Perhaps we need to define freedom for the group, and not the individual.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I really really enjoy your insight!

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Mary Cheney's Love Child said...

why was my comment deleted?
someone can't handle the truth!


At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so delighted to discover you and your blog. I (at 64) help out an elder (at 87) who was a writer for the NYTimes, helped craft the Marshall Plan after WWII and has a very similar outlook and humor to yourself. I think he will very much enjoy your company. Thank you for sharing your creative energy.

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Don:

I appreciate your discussion on the mind control out there. I am sure you have witnessed the changes in pressure in the way corporations have advertised to the public.

Today, the creativity of corporations is limitless. They paste their advertisment on buses, streetcars, subway floors, walls, ceilings and poles as well as on the backs of toilet cubicle doors.

Before the 1980s, there were NO advertisements surrounding the hockey rinks or on the ice. This is not the case now.

I grew up with a mother who was frugal. She taught me that what people advertise may be unreasonable and not essential to my well being. "Be careful", she warned, "with your money and buy what you really need and make it worth the purchase by using it."

When she bought something, she emphasized how how much she suffered working for this item I enjoyed.

Alas, my mother passed away several years ago. I realized how much I appreciated her guiding me to think critically.

At 4:52 AM, Blogger alex the Gardener said...

Interesting points Don. Perhaps that flood of information is precisely the challenge of our times and to me there are two big points:
- remaining in control of our attention that is faced with dilution in a world of information overflow
- retaining and developing the ability to assess and compare pieces of information instead of taking everything established media say for "truths"

And you do seem capable of doing just that, which helps the rest of us think a bit differently.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger zichi said...

I mainly enjoy your blog, but not everything. I'm writing this comment because I came across an entry on Technorati that you were given a "stupid blog award" and that all Canadians' are boring, by a self appointed giver on another blogspot. I left my comments on his blog.
It's not a case of whether I like your blog or not, or that I may even agree with your opinions, or not.
It's very encouraging that your are blogging and using the internet. I mother is 80 and quite capable with the web. Thank you for visiting my blog, and I offer you a happy birthday on the 23rd.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first visit here and I already look forward to reading more. Good, flowing English devoid of modern slang tickles me.

I'm 33 and it is difficult for me too to comprehend the information explosion we have to deal with today. The media has almost fully converted me into a non-believer. Healthy disagreements are hard to find. Arguments are put forward to appear unique. Or to show one's allegiance to one party, religion, belief-system, etc.

I can relate to this wonderful article. Yes, atleast our freedom is still upto us! In relation to this media onslaught, being a 'passive' observer appears to be the position.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Zophorian said...

The key, I think, is to remember that everything put into words (or even thru the lens of a camera) is mediated—meaning that it is spun and interpreted to some extent. We need to take EVERYTHING we receive with a grain of salt and suspicion. We are also free to spin and interpret things as we wish. That means that we can come to understand them in ways that are different, even directly opposed, to the author.

The only thing that is not ‘mediated’ is real life, real time material experience—the first hand stuff. But even that is mediated by our own perspective and prejudices, which we all have like it or not. We almost never get back to the bare bones of experience because that is meaningless and chaotic, only our minds give structure and meaning.

As for thinking for ourselves? Make sure that you realize that everything you read and watch can be argued with, and if you don’t find faults with it is just because you agree with the spin and interpretation of the giver. Nothing wrong with that, in fact it is comforting and what makes the basis for community. Just be aware. And when you don’t agree feel free to take what is given and strip it back as close as you can get to the ‘bare bones’ and give it your own flesh, your own interpretation, spin and perspective.

We live in an age of information, we all know that. But information implies interpretation. So we need to be aware that the deeper level of this age of information is an age of interpretation or hermeneutics. We need to liberate our minds and become individuals so as not to be controlled and oppressed by the people in control of the information. We need to be the interpreters and spin doctors in our own lives, of our own worlds. We need to be hermeneutic thinkers. It is in that that real freedom and individuality lies.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger SJ Stone said...

Don, I came across this blog only because it was mentioned in the Baltimore Sun's Ideas section, which said it was interesting. So I'll tune in and see. I've been blogging myself now for about 2 1/2 years or since my ex-wife left with the kids. So, always interesting in seeing what others are writing. Stop by anytime. Scott

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