“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” ~ Mark Twain
We were born a society of intellectual rigor and philosophical discourse that centered on reason, faith, and civil discourse as the emphasis of our primary doctrines and ideals in a period of time known as The Great Enlightenment. This philosophical and intellectual movement launched a miraculous debate by our Founders in favor of such ideas as Individual Liberty and Constitutional Republicanism. We were fortunate to experience such beautiful ideas as Liberty in a world so embedded by despotism and tyranny. With Individual Liberty came ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and the rugged American individualist spirit. The time of oppressive institutions that held down education and growth, and promoted a collective hive-mind of modern feudalism was successfully being dismantled by the American Experiment of Individual Liberty. It was glorious.
I’d like to think that a piece of that glory is still alive in our great nation, and in each of our individual hearts and minds. For the last 25 years, our society seems to be falling away from our Founding Principles and retreating into the ‘group-think’ that was, until recently, foreign to our thought pattern. Our current societal decline is being led by a ferocious and deceitful media, advertising, lobbyists, both lower and higher education institutions, foreign influence, and self-serving politicians. These institutions are doing this through means of images and language that is meant to sway opinion. The idea of pseudo-intellectuals and political elitists doing this is nothing new, but it is the combined effort and escalation of the tactic by all of these institutions and our modern technological vehicles such as 24 hour news cycles, social media platforms, podcasts, and more, that are bombarding our psyches. Their message, born of a progressive ideology, though completely unmoored from, and contradictory of the guidelines of our Constitution, is cleverly packaged, and then amplified across the planet in a matter of seconds. It arrives as news, though much must be retracted a mere hours later. But there it is, a swat to the hornets nest, stirring up the vitriol that we are becoming accustomed to on a daily basis. It would seem that our modern society has traded rational thought and civil discourse for this reactionary group-think that advances its ideas, (or lack-thereof,) by personal verbal attacks based on images that are not even current, and dialogue that is not truthful, and downright dishonest.
While we are witnessing this on many facets of our image-driven society, one that I see within my field of Nutrition is labeling and false advertising. I know, I know, it’s been done since the first snake-oil salesmen began their sales-pitches, but the susceptibility and sadly, gullibility of the modern consumer is at an all-time high. Presented with an image, people will fall for most things today, with no ambition to fact-check or research claims for validity. Add a doctor to advise on a product, and it’s a miracle food or a miracle drug. I see it first hand. Whenever a certain doctor appears on a morning show, I’m flooded with questions on the miracle food or miracle drug. I see how the advertisements can sway many to believe whatever the claim may be, but now I’ve seen pure images without content and dialogue form opinion and lead so many astray.
I experience this image-driven change through my own social media posts. I create my posts for the purpose of helping others, and providing tools to strengthen will power and discipline, as well as sharing uplifting messages and overall positivity. On my posts, I supply dialogue, instruction, and information, yet I find that so many do not actually read the content, but rather view the image, and react or respond. It’s a strange phenomenon, but it’s one that I think needs to do an about-face, and quickly, if our society is to advance. We need to be actively thinking and engaging in civil discourse on a daily basis. We need to read original sources and be willing to take the time to research. We need to be firm in our principles. And, I believe we need to reject this form of influence over our lives, and also reject the vehicles in which it arrives in our brain patterns. We must return to reason.
Please think on this.
Have a safe & Happy 4th of July, and in the spirit of Liberty, remember why we celebrate our Independence Day. (And, if you have a moment, read & reflect on the Declaration.)
Until next month,
~ John D.