"If you want to change your mind, change the medium."
– Marshall McLuhan
For good or ill, advancements in media technology have revolutionized the means and access of news dissemination and commentary. This presents us with the potential to unite an enlightened population to a degree unseen since the Monkees’ second reunion tour. We can pass policies on crucial issues that enhance the development of the individual, culture, and international community.
This potential cannot be underestimated. With the tools of the modern media, we can transform the world itself—except maybe Portugal. First, we must address some problems: a slack of journalistic standards (cable news), an overabundance of questionable information from unverifiable sources (the White House), huge news conglomerates with profit motives influencing their subject matter (Comedy Central), and a culture that is hypnotized by immediate gratification entertainment (Paris DUI) while too impatient to ingest more meaningful topics of discourse (Lohan DUI).
We can best understand the media by applying Ken Wilber’s 4-quadrant model. From his individual-subjective quadrant, the key principle is the freedom of expression. All peoples must be given the opportunity to express themselves without fear of personal repercussions, jail, or job loss. This freedom must be tempered with a commitment for truth and responsibility that enriches rather than sensationalizes. Pluralistic liberalism claims to embrace such freedom, yet it is the biggest offender of first amendment rights. Any politician plugging for the Fairness Doctrine missed a few days of civics class. I’m talking to you, Pelosi!
In the age of blogging, virtually anybody can express any opinion or story regardless of merit (the Discord). This has led to an overload of untrustworthy or meaningless information (ibid). Our culture craves for a standard of journalism that proves its trustworthiness through honest and responsible reporting via the checking and rechecking of sources (except maybe that Curveball fellow Powell was working with; I’m sure he was on the level).
This leads us to Wilber’s next quadrant, the objective-individual. As a society, we must establish respectable and reputable ethics of journalism, commentary, art, and entertainment. This is the key to our modern dilemma. Everyone is free to spew their points, but who can we trust for meaningful news? Who will not waste our time? Who will provide vital information leading to the enrichment of our culture and our world (Kiefer DUI)? Who has sincerely sought truth, inquired deeply into the issues of our time, and transcended all personal and political agendas?
Too much dialogue in modern media merely advertises a particular ideology, which brings us to Wilber’s third quadrant, the subjective-plural, which relates to group expression or, in the case of media, dialogue. When diverse perspectives address conflicting issues, both sides must continually assess and reassess the validity of each other’s perspectives. The goal is not the mere denigration of our opponents through crafty argumentation—although that’s fun—but rather to seek the transformation of the self and culture through the process of Socratic dialogue (Sheen-Richards divorce).
The final quadrant is the objective-plural. This quadrant concerns the use of social and economic institutions for the stimulation of personal and cultural evolution. The dilemma for the modern corporate entity is how to maximize profit and still promote insightful and enriching, yet easily digestible, stories. How do we bridge the gap? People are addicted to reality TV shows, Internet porn, and soap opera dramas that leave them tantalized yet empty. Businesses know this is where the money lies. How can we both entertain and stimulate? (Besides NakedLesbianFencing.com., which works on all quadrants and all levels.)
We must simultaneously make progress in all quadrants at once. As more people raise their level of consciousness, they will seek out more stimulating media sources (en garde!). As we elevate journalistic standards, we will better recognize and promote responsible media. As these journalists, pundits, and commentators transform through dialogue, so too will their audience. In other words, we have bottomed out on the stupid meter and are, no doubt, climbing toward a, much welcomed, intelligence resurgence. As corporate institutions recognize the marketability of these higher media endeavors (HMEs), they will invest in more meaningful programming. (Have I mentioned NakedLesbianFencing.com?)
Over the next several weeks we, at the Discord, will analyze each of the more popular commentators and news anchors. See how Mathews holds up to Limbaugh, or how Hannity compares to Dobbs. Each week a political commentator will be highlighted, appraised, and dissected for your enjoyment. So let the naked lesbian fencing commence!