Kill Your Television

in Inner Blockslast month

Hello, beefriends! It's time for another episode of Phoenix prattles on about things. Shocker, I know. ;)

It's perhaps more of a generational divide nowadays, but the "Kill your TV" movement is akin to the "Quit Facebook" movement, because they are essentially about the same issue. Depending on your habits, age, location, etc., people often get their news, and especially their political news, from television or social media. Humans tend to go along with the group consensus; as much as we might call ourselves an individualist, we aren't as much as we think we are, and so the echochamber of TV or social media can shape our worldviews more strongly than we might consciously realize. Anyone who has ever watched cable news in the US knows that Fox News is "conservative" news and MSNBC is "liberal" news; a bias seen all over formal news programming since Ronald Reagan's administration killed the Fairness Doctrine in the 80s. In the same way, Facebook is regarded as an echochamber, where the algorithm feeds you more and more things related to what you have liked or interacted with in the hopes of keeping you on the site longer.

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Creative commons license on Flickr

But it isn't just news programs that can influence your thinking. Cop dramas are often called "copaganda" because they generally portray the police as helpful, passionate, competent, caring, and relentless agents of justice. Health care dramas as "docaganda" because they act like doctors and health care systems care very much about helping you and will stop at nothing, no stone unturned, to diagnose and treat your illness. They might make said "hero" a bit of an anti-hero, like Doctor House, but still it's driven home that he's so passionate about figuring out what's wrong with you he'll break all the rules to do what's necessary. But any person who has ever been denied care for lack of money, or gaslighted by a doctor who condescendingly told you it was all in your head or accused you of being a drug seeker when all you wanted was help, knows that this is not how healthcare works. Sure, there may be some doctors and nurses who genuinely care out there, just like there may be police who entered into the job with only good intentions to protect people, but they are working within a system that prevents them from doing that more than it supports it.

Our worldview is shaped by the media we consume. And so when most everyone you know is watching the same shows, sharing the same news articles, and listening to the same music, you and your friends tend to have similar values and judgements.

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One of the things I think is so great about Hive is that we have such a wide range of people here. Different cultures, religions, lifestyles, world views, politics, wealth levels ...we're a pretty diverse bunch. It's so cool to be able to see people's videos and photos from around the world of everyday life. When you see things outside the sheltered bubble of your immediate experience, it tends to keep your mind open as your realize that not everyone is like you and not everyone has similar experiences to you. It's also hard to "other" people who are different when you know members of that group personally because you've read their blog and you've chatted with them in the comments.

"Professional" media tends to put a shine on things. I've had many conversations online with friends in other countries that start off with me saying something that's just normal to my experience and everyday, and they're like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I thought (enter whatever stereotype about America you'd get from TV shows and movies)." Like, people tend to think all Americans are rich and live in big houses, everyone drives a car, etc. But we have hundreds of thousands of homeless people living on the streets and we would have proper slums like any other poor country, except in the US, those people aren't allowed to take refuge anywhere, and instead the governments of cities and states arrest them, harass them, make it illegal to beg, pours bleach on food from mutual aid groups trying to feed them, and confiscate their meager belongings, throwing out their literal survival gear like tents and blankets in the middle of winter so that they die of exposure to the cold and then they shrug and say, "so sad." Our infrastructure is crumbling so bad we have bridges collapsing and trains derailing and levees failing and received a grade of C- (up from a D+ in 2017) by the American Society of Civil Engineers. But you would never know this by watching American TV. American movies and television portray us as "the land of opportunity" and "the shining city on the hill" more often than not. Hell, Hollywood movies that portray the military in any fashion literally work with US military consultants to portray the US military in a positive light and even to help recruit new soldiers.


So, "kill your TV" and "quit Facebook" and other such exhortations are all directed at the same thing: avoid propaganda and echochambers. Don't just swallow the story that the media is selling. Free your mind.

If you are happily thinking that you Live In The Best Of All Possible Worlds (did y'all read Candide in high school lit class?), you are less likely to advocate for change. If you think that anyone can make it, if they just work hard and stay focused!'ll keep busy hustling and grinding and not questioning why the system is set up such that you're expected to work yourself to the bone when we have so much automation and wealth available that we could feed, clothe, house, and otherwise take care of everyone in the world and it's a social construct that you have to "earn" your living. And the billionaires with a fuckton of power (and ownership of almost all media) are happy for you to believe it, because they don't want to share.

Now I'm not saying that no one would need to work, of course. But with the amount of automation we already have and is currently on the way, the vast majority of people could spend their time pursuing other things than "whatever job will pay the bills," and/or divvy up what work is left that really needs to be done so that each person does less of it. And it would still be work, anyway! It's work to raise kids. It's work to do housework. It's work to make art. It's work to invent. It's work to garden. It's work to experiment. It's work to volunteer. It's work to care for the elderly and ill. It's not like everyone would be sitting on their ass all day. But even if some people did, it wouldn't matter, because we can get our needs met without their labor. And then we could celebrate when a new automation of some drudgery is available, instead of lamenting, "but what about the jobs?" We could expedite the automation. We would happily let robots build things and drones deliver our packages, instead of viewing such things with dread.

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Here is where you might expect me to wrap things up in a neat little bow, but to be honest, I don't know how we get from here to there, except for more of us to think critically about the society we live in and imagine alternative ways of doing things that are good for people and the planet instead of the exploitative systems we have now. And ya know ...kill your television. ;)

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Social media, Television shows, adverts, pressure groups and many more. There are quite a lot of things that could potentially sway our thinking and decision making. One has to be careful out there. I try as much as possible to be introspective before forming an opinion, knowing fully well I have my own bias. So I just try to apply the same principle to these social drivers