Saturday, April 14, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts on Communicating Massively

There are still a few of us around who are able to recall life before computers, and therefore before the internet. Heck - I can even remember life before television! Mass communication, in those days, came via newspapers and radio, and to a lesser extent via film and newsreels at the cinema. First time I saw a TV working was for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. A few neighbours, my parents, grandparents and I piled into the home of a local business woman who had the only set in the village where my grandparents lived.

I do remember when the very first mention of computers reached my delicate ears, in 1966/7. I'd been working for a few months for a local Devonshire (south-west England) 'bus company in the accounts office. One of the senior employees had been sent on a training course, on his return he regaled us with tales of the binary system leaving our brains limp and imaginations reeling. All we had to work with in those days were very basic mechanical adding machines, one step up from the abacus. Having, out of necessity, trained my non-mathematical brain to add long columns of figures in hotel ledgers during the few years previous, I often opted to "do it in my head" rather than tackle the awkward adding machine.

None of us could have possibly envisaged the amazing developments we've seen during ensuing decades. Online banking, shopping, social networking, the dreaded Facebook, smartphones, ipads..... spam, porn sites, viruses, malware, Twitter - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. I am well aware that my own life turned in a very unexpected direction, all due to the internet, for it was through the net that husband and I met.

There's a downside to these developments and changes though, there's always a downside.

Television should be the last mass communication medium to be naively designed and put into the world without a surgeon-general's warning.
Alan Kay

Over roughly the same time span: from TV sets becoming commonplace, followed rapidly by computer development, up to the present, corporate power has risen in tandem. Now multinational corporations own media, at least they do in the USA and have tentacles worldwide. TV has become a major arm of the corporations' mass brain-washing system. Oh, they'd been doing it before TV, but the opening up of mass communication made it so much easier! As more time has passed evidence has continued to emerge that we are under constant surveillance. Recent developments relating to Facebook's gathering of personal information is disquieting to say the least. Perhaps nobody senses danger if all the stolen information is used simply to target a few adverts for shoes, bandages, bras, toasters - whatever it was we were searching for online last. But the feeling that there could be other, darker, uses for the information gathered is not a happy one. Facebook is currently at the centre of discussions on this front, but Google and others are also quietly gathering our personal data, and have been doing so for years.

The solution? For ordinary souls such as I, and passing readers who do not wish to divest ourselves completely of access to television, computer and internet, all we can do is be aware of the potential "weaponry" in our living rooms, remain vigilant, never forgetting possible sub-text, and remember to keep in mind, always, this question: who is "paying the piper"?

When discussing this topic, several years ago, and before Facebook became the monster it now is, a friend observed that as we become increasingly under cyber influences, man-made (or manipulated), the structure of the human psyche will probably transform - over time. Sensibilities will increase and entirely new avenues might open up. Aquarian Age stuff to come?

My view: humans will, almost certainly, evolve psychologically due to the highly technological world they've been born into. We are at the slimmest end of the science fiction wedge of that eventuality right now. It must be happening, week by week, year by year, decade by decade.

My husband's opinion:
"Follow the money!" You can tell which industry is making the most money by the number of TV spots they are running. These ads can cost as much as a million dollars a minute. Cars, pharmaceuticals, insurance, smartphones, political candidates; who’s on top tonight?

I read a piece about the rise and fall of a country once. The one thing that I remember most is that the aggressor took over mass media first. Radio, newspapers, criers to internet... mass communication is first to go. So, money has taken over our mass media. Have we been conquered?


Anonymous said...

Humans' evolution tends to be of the out-foxing-ourselves type.

Jono said...

Heck, I was just trying to remember back when the wheel was first invented. It was right after fire and things haven't been the same since.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ It does. Exponentially too!

Twilight said...

Jono ~ Quite right - we saw the prequel at the start of that great movie "2001 A Space Odyssey" didn't we?

Bob said...

I think my microwave is spying on me!

Twilight said...

Bob ~ You can depend on it! :)

Wisewebwoman said...

I think it's way more subversive than we think, or want to think. Not just FB which is the tip. Amazon, Google, GoodReads, etc. Our likes and dislikes feed the machine and perhaps AI will just take over and annihilate us pesky humans. We're sure heading there. And no one seems to be in charge.
Our remaining years are slender indeed, what to do with them?


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ I agree, these things always go deeper than we suppose, or are ever allowed to know. I find individuals such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos more scary than even Prez Trump - because they know exactly what they're doing, and why! :(

LB said...

Hi Twilight ~

In keeping with your topic, here's the link to a great interview with Mark Crispin Miller (NYU professor of Media Studies) on Chris Hedges's RT show, "On Contact:"

Hope you're doing well.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for the link, LB - excellent interview - especially liked the second half of it, but it's disquieting that there's so little to be done about it all. :(

And thank you - yes, I'm doing well! :)

LB said...

We can talk about it. I do, though I find most don't get what it means and aren't interested.

They think the steady stream of MSM propaganda they're consuming is the real deal.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes, that's the problem! The idea that what mainstream media tells us has to be correct and unquestionable must be a holdover, a habit from years gone by, when things were different. Maybe the media then were not perfect all the time, but certainly much more honest and trustworthy than now.