I have now released
The Ultimate Commonplace System

The Intelligent Man’s Guide to: Mainstream Media And Mass Culture

40 Flares Facebook 20 Google+ 5 Twitter 15 Buffer 0 40 Flares ×

The intelligent man's guide to: mainstream media, news, and mass culture“No. . . I don’t like this! Why can’t there be any happy news? This is no fun.”

So said: (a) Britney Spears or (b) Robin Williams or (c) Nelson Mandela.

The correct answer is none of the above.

It was said by. . .

. . . a girl that lived in my corridor when I studied at university.

Right after she said it she changed the channel to watch some show about rich housewives that lived in New Jersey. That made her happy again.

I considered whether I should explain to her in detail why there can’t be any happy news. But I quickly realized that her (very limited) attention span would be an insurmountable obstacle. I decided it wasn’t worth the effort and said: “I don’t know”. Then I went back to my room, where I could avoid exposing myself to the gossip of the “glamorous” housewives.

A couple of days later I found the same girl in the kitchen again.

This time she was hanging out with a friend. They were watching some reality show. Their conversation went something like this:

Girl 1: “I’ve been to work today, now I deserve to relax. I don’t want to think anymore. This show is really good for that!”

Girl 2: “Yes totally. I have studied biology all day, can’t I get a break?”

Girl 1: “Yeah exactly. I know I shouldn’t be watching this show, it’s kind of stupid, right? But I  like it — I think it’s fun.”

Girl 2: “Yeah, sometimes you just don’t want to do anything. What’s wrong with that?

Girl 1: “There’s nothing wrong with that, I think that. . .”

And then they started talking about the characters on the TV show. First they mocked them and laughed at their shallowness then, subtly, their conversation shifted into petty gossip, just like those housewives they were watching.

They did not see the irony in this.

Nor did they realize that they were rationalizing and defending their “right” not to think and to act akratic — against their own interest and better knowing — by choosing to watch the show.

The funny thing is that those girls believed they were (intellectually) superior to other people because they attended university.

I’m not saying they were particularly stupid or anything, actually. . .

They are just average; average in terms of intelligence and average in terms of the ideas, stereotypes and beliefs they have.

They Are Products of Mass Culture

Products of the mass media.

And maybe you will be too, unless you take drastic actions to prevent it from happening.

When you have the same inputs for information as everyone else, you become like everyone else: A mass-produced average.

And when you watch a lot of TV you become stupid.

I’m not kidding.

Let me explain.

I haven’t had a TV since I lived at home and was 18 (I’m now 23) and whenever I watch TV nowadays it sends shivers down my spine, in an uncomfortable way. Because I know what TV does to people.

When I was younger I had no idea because:

But I know now — and I’m going to tell you what I decided NOT to tell that girl in my corridor when she asked me “why there can’t be any happy news”.

Let’s start with. . .

The Nature of News

What is “news”?

News is stories told to a group of people. Hopefully the people listening haven’t heard the stories before.

Maybe, at some point in history, news used to be just that — news.

But for a very long time “news” has been nothing but entertainment, propaganda, or marketing and sales messages. Let me define each one for you:

Entertainment is. . .

Anything to keep your attention. To keep you stimulated enough to continue reading, watching or listening.

Propaganda is. . .

Anything to shape your opinion on a certain topic. News disguised as propaganda is commonplace in countries like the U.S, China, and particularly in North Korea.

[15:41 –17:10]

Marketing & sales message are. . .

Anything you’re shown that exposes you to a company in a positive way to increase the likelihood that you’ll like, or want to buy, a product or service. In the US there is a fine line between standard commercials and marketing or sales messages disguised as “news” or TV shows. Other countries, like Sweden, have stricter rules.

Who tells you the “news”?

An anchorman or anchorwoman dressed in a good suit so that you will listen (respectfully) to what he or she has to say. Even if that person is Ron Burgundy.

These people don’t get their jobs because they’re smart. They get their job based on the following qualities:

  • Good looks
  • Pleasant voice (woman) or authoritarian voice (man)
  • Ability to read text on a teleprompter and repeat the words they read with conviction, as if they had thought it up themselves

Why do they tell you the “news”?

Because “news” makes for good TV. And because they were hired to do that by the people who own the networks.

Why do the owners hire (famous) news anchors?

Because they realized that people prefer listening to, and trust, the people they’re familiar with.

If there’s a new person telling the “news” every single time there will be no familiarity. People would pay less attention — which equates to less profits and influence for the owners. It would be bad business.

Why does “news” make for good TV?

Because it appeals to a large and diverse target group of people.

And because “news” fills two basic needs for these viewers:

  1. The need to feel and believe that they’re doing something meaningful
  2. The need to indulge their curiosity for learning new things

But it does this in a negative way by tricking them that they’re doing something useful, when — in reality — they’re only being entertained, influenced, or sold on something. Ayn Rand describes this in Fountainhead when she has her media mogul character Gail Wynand say:

“If you make people perform a noble duty, it bores them,” said Wynand. “If you make them indulge themselves, it shames them. But combine the two — and you’ve got them.”

The “noble duty” is for the average person to feel like he is being a good citizen by watching the news to keep himself informed on worldly events.

The “indulgence” is what I call entertainment news.

Entertainment news is like yogurt. Who buys yogurt? Fat people who want to lose weight but don’t know much about nutrition. They think yogurt is healthy because a lot of people told them so.

"Yay! Frozen yogurt is the best. I get to have dessert AND feel like I'm being healthy."

“Yay! Frozen yogurt is the best. I get to have dessert AND feel like I’m being healthy.”

But yogurt contains mostly sugar. It is marketed as healthy, but it’s really just a sugary indulgence — you might as well eat candy.

Entertainment news is the same. It comes in bite-sized servings, goes down easily, you can consume a lot of it without becoming full, and it has a harmful effect on your life.

But most people don’t see it that way.

They’re too busy feeling like “good citizens” to notice it.

What are some good examples of entertainment news?

It might be — and often is — some shocking or unlikely story, like:

  • How a big shark ate an innocent baby or;
  • How a gang of young vandals have committed a series of grave robberies or,
  • How a celebrity did something slightly out of the ordinary. . .

. . . Something that would be utterly unremarkable, and would go unnoticed, if it were a normal person who did it. But since it’s a celebrity it gets remarked on.

I know very little about Kim Kardashian. But I know that she is a “celebrity”, and that she gets a lot of attention by the media for acting like a prostitute.

Just the fact that someone like her — a person who hasn’t accomplished anything worthwhile — is given so much attention, leads a lot of people to believe that if they act like that too, then they’ll also be famous and rich. Monkey see monkey do. They think that if only they could get on TV and do something scandalous they’d become successful:

It came as a shock to me to read in The Week that 20 percent of British teenagers in school claim they would abandon their education if they could just get themselves on television. In any capacity whatever. Just to be a “celebrity”. Which probably explains the queues clamoring to be humiliated on “reality TV,” a modern equivalent to ancient Rome’s gladiator circuses.

–Felix Dennis, How to Get Rich

I know a couple of people who have been on TV. None of them became rich or famous as a direct result of it. Two were skillful enough to leverage the media attention to build their brands, generate speaking requests and sell products.

I wouldn’t mind getting on TV myself, as long as it helped me somehow, but watching TV?

No.

When you expose yourself to mainstream media and popular culture for any extended period of time — for most people this is their entire lives — you start suffering from media bias.

What is Media Bias?

More than 100 years ago Jesse Lynch Williams wrote a play about a newspaper called The Stolen Story. In it, there’s a great scene that illustrates what media bias is and how it comes into existence:

(Enter Very Young Reporter; comes down to city desk with air of excitement.)

VERY YOUNG REPORTER (considerably impressed) : ‘Big story. Three dagoes killed by that boiler explosion!’

THE CITY EDITOR (reading copy. Doesn’t look up): ‘Ten lines.’ (Continues reading copy.)

VERY YOUNG REPORTER (looks surprised and hurt. Crosses over to reporter’s table. Then turns back to city desk. Casual conversational tone); ‘By the way. Funny thing. There was a baby carriage within fifty feet of the explosion, but it wasn’t upset.’

THE CITY EDITOR (looks up with professional interest): ‘That’s worth a dozen dead dagoes. Write a half column.’

(Very Young Reporter looks still more surprised, perplexed. Suddenly the idea dawns upon him. He crosses over to table, sits down, writes.)

It was the same piece of news, but the editor saw it differently than the reporter. The editor knew from experience that a sensational angle on the story — one that is strays as far as possible from what is considered normal — gets more attention and sells more newspapers.

People dying in an explosion is to be expected. A baby surviving the explosion unharmed is not.

A hard-working entrepreneur becoming a millionaire by his 40s or 50s is to be expected. Mark Zuckerberg becoming a billionaire at age 23 is not.

Now take this times a thousand and you get the effect of media bias caused by the modern mainstream media.

Say there’s an old couple that watches the news and see that story about the teenage grave robbers. In a state of shock they exclaim: “What is the world coming to? We must make sure our teenage grandchildren don’t start robbing graves!”

Media Bias Makes People Stupid. . .

. . . Because it gives them a heavily distorted view of how the world works:

Why does this make you stupid?

Because it conditions you into thinking that things are simpler than they are.

How does this happen?

By refusing to acknowledge that there may be multiple explanations for how something happened.

This is especially true when it comes to success stories. It leads people to believe that “overnight success” is possible if you’re just “passionate” about something.

Fact:

In reality, things are nearly always more complex than the stories presented by mainstream media. It’s hard to fit the truth into a 1-page article or a 5-minute news report. And the media people don’t care. They’re not paid to investigate and analyze. They’re paid to entertain and add opinionated commentary or comic relief. . .

. . . Because this produces a larger quantity of content.

As long as people are watching, the quality doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that they can jam in as much advertising as possible. That’s how media companies make their money, whether it’s newspapers, tabloids, radio, TV or online news sites.

Are TV Series and Movies Dangerous too?

Yes they are — for a number of reasons.

For starters, the lives of TV characters are cooler and more eventful than your own life. When TV characters do things, even on reality shows, dramatic music plays in the background. This adds a depth to everything that happens and all actions seem filled with finality and meaning.

Most people don’t have very eventful, dramatic, or meaningful lives. But they sure try to act like it. I wonder why?

Maybe because it’s easier to mimic someone who seems successful than it is figuring out what “success” actually means to you.

Ayn Rand writes the following about Peter Keating from Fountainhead:

He stared into the fire. That was what made a man happy–to sit looking dreamily into a fire, at his own hearth, in his own home; that’s what he had always heard and read. He stared at the flames, unblinking, to force himself into a complete obedience to an established truth. Just one more minute of it and I will feel happy, he thought, concentrating. Nothing happened.

He thought of how convincingly he could describe this scene to friends and make them envy the fullness of his contentment. Why couldn’t he convince himself?

This is what most young people’s lives are like today — artificial. The only difference is that they don’t even have to go through the mental effort to “describe the scene to friends,” they can just post it on social media immediately.

Their lives are fake and they are actors — acting out a script written by the director: Mass culture.

Happiness -- as good as it gets!

This is the the highest form of meaning and happiness you can hope to achieve

They will show up to the pub and sit in their favorite booth drinking with their friends every Friday. That’s what friends do to have fun. They know it because they saw it on How I Met Your Mother.

They will spend waste time in hipster coffee shops. That’s what friends do on weekdays. They know it because they saw it on Friends.

Men believe that the “good guy” or “the geek” always gets the girl without stepping up his life. They know it because they watched romantic movies.

Women think they’ll meet Mr Right if they wait long enough. In the meantime they’ll go out and have drunken sex.

Just the fact that you are shown something on TV lends credence to its existence. What you are not shown does not exist. Perception is reality.

Are TV series and movies dangerous?

They can be.

But most people don’t understand why. And, unfortunately, many who do understand why, think they’re special and different.

No way that stuff works on me. I’m not so easily tricked!

That’s what they all say.

But guess what?

You’re not special and you’re not different.

You are affected — you just don’t notice it because it happens incrementally, at a rate of change below your sensory threshold.

“Relax, it’s just entertainment!”

No.

It’s not ‘just’ entertainment.

It’s subconscious influencing and, just like you should be mindful of what you put into your body, you should also be mindful of what you put into your head.

When middle-aged women watch Oprah and see “EVERYBODY GET A FREE CAR,” it impacts them.

 

Like this. . .

oprah mainstream media brainwashing news tv

This is the description of another YouTube video about Oprah and her gift-giving.

The person who created that video ACTUALLY believes that Oprah bought cars for the members of the audience (it’s all sponsored by big business). Is it possible to be this stupid? Yes it is — people who watch a lot of TV will believe anything.

[Note: Funny side story. Oprah decided those cars should not be gifts, but prizes. This means that each person who got one had to pay the IRS a mandatory tax for 25% of the car’s value, which equated to $7000. Many of the women in the audience could not afford this and wound up in trouble. For some strange reason this was not reported on by mainstream media.]

They’ll even believe that rich and successful people are supposed to “share their wealth” and hand out money to anyone who might need it for any arbitrary reason. Why do they believe this, you ask?

It’s because they’ve watched TV shows that have reinforced the notion that this is how it’s “supposed” to be.

They’ve watched shows like The Secret Millionaire, where millionaires go undercover to work amongst the ranks of poorly paid and downtrodden workers. After a week, while bonding with one particularly troubled worker who shares his or her sob story and justifications for why he or she isn’t successful, the millionaires reveal their true identity and give out large sums of money — out of pity.

And most people who watch the show get a kick out of it and think to themselves:

Yes, we DO live in a just and fair world, where the underdog ALWAYS gets what he DESERVES, if he just WAITS long enough!

Yes.

Downtrodden people of the world — just you wait!

Things will turn around for you!

One day a secret millionaire will show up on your doorstep, fix your problems, and give you a fortune. No action is required on your part.

And if that doesn’t happen you can expect Oprah to give you a car.

Yes.

You deserve it.

. . . Not.

You think this is a new phenomenon?

It’s not.

In the 40s there was a popular game show called Queen for a Day based on same premise as Oprah and The Secret Millionaire put together — giving women free stuff (and no prize taxes had to be paid!).

That show was like a game show — without a game. Female participants would compete on the basis of who could come up with the biggest sob story and make the audience feel the most sorry for them. The winner — the “queen” — was selected based on which female participant got the most applause from the audience. This was measured by a clap-o-meter.

What do these shows teach us?

–That the world rewards people who beg, complain, and wait for things to change. . .

As opposed to taking constructive action and learning from mistakes.

If You’re Watching “News”, Mainstream Media or TV Series — Don’t Get Any Illusions

You’re not educating yourself. You’re entertaining yourself.

You’re indulging.

And no — it’s not “just a little entertainment”.

Mainstream media has no upside — but it has a lot of downside:

  • News” has little practical value — most of it is entertainment news. People watch it because it indulges them AND makes them feel like they’re performing a noble duty (by being a good citizen).
  • Entertainment news lowers the perceived standards of success by making people think that it’s possible to become an overnight success by getting on TV and acting like an idiot.
  • Media bias makes people dumb by screwing up their frame of reference and their expectations of what life is supposed to be like.
  • Mass culture writes the script that most people follow.
  • TV shows and movies make people believe the stupidest things; that they are entitled, that pity will bring prosperity, that waiting will produce change, and that rich and successful people have an obligation to “share their wealth” with poor people because they “deserve it.”

Throw your TV out the window.

You’re Either Expanding or You’re Decaying

Ayn Rand said that:

Wealth is a product of man’s capacity to think.

. . . And contrary to popular belief, thoughts don’t just come out of nowhere.

The thoughts you have are a RESULT of the life you lead, the stimuli you’re exposed to and the information you consume.

If you tune into mainstream media and spend your time gossiping with average people, then guess what?

You become average and have average ideas.

If you read quality books and associate with intelligent and ambitious people, then guess what?

You become successful and have intelligent ideas.

If you don’t have any boundaries for what sort of external influences you let into your life. . . What allow yourself to be exposed to. . . You will NOT expand.

Exposing yourself to mainstream media for any prolonged period of time is like exposing yourself to radiation.

You decay.


 

Note: I have sent out Mind Matrix now.

P.S.

cover

If you’re not already subscribed to SGM, go ahead and do that now.

Immediately.

Because in addition to my eBook 75 Practical Tips, I am sending out another free eBook to subscribers, Mind Matrix. This will happen soon.

Mind Matrix will contain a list of programs, Internet extensions, websites, and other useful resources.

 

Photo credit: 1, 2

Join thousands of others and get free access to my 75 BEST TIPS + exclusive content in the SGM newsletter (I only email about once per month.)
40 Flares Facebook 20 Google+ 5 Twitter 15 Buffer 0 40 Flares ×

The Ultimate Commonplace System

Finally out. . .
Click for more info:

Join the Waiting List for my Upcoming Book:

Comments

  1. Ludvig, do you watch any TV or any movies these days?

    Because you’ve must have read Ayn Rand to be able to quote her, and you quoted The Stolen Story, so you must be consuming some art.

    I guess my main, or only question is this; where do you draw your line between education through art, and entertainment? The entertainment which you describe, which in Ancient Rome was known as bread-and-circuses.

    • Erik,

      That is a really good point.

      The key seems to be to have a discerning criteria for what you consume.

      It appears that for this to be the case an individual needs to have a way to not only be able to seek and find meaning full information of high quality but, to concurrently be able to shape the “context” or how they hold that information for themselves.

      The facts matter but of equal import is the frame we put around those facts.

    • Hey Erik,

      I draw the line based on two things:
      1) Whether it’s conscious and deliberate consumption or if it’s unconscious (like those girls I described) and,
      2) Where it requires you to “activate” your brain. Reading a book forces your brain to be more resourceful than watching TV does. Reading is an active medium, watching TV is (mostly) a passive medium.

      I don’t watch any TV as I don’t have one. But I have watched a few documentary movies on YouTube while eating in the last two months. I also watched Planet of the Apes at the cinema 3 months ago. I did this because I was asked by some friends — and it seemed like a nice culmination after having read some books on evolution and paleolithic history. I thought it was an awesome experience and a cool movie but my friends thought it sucked (because they go to the cinema more often than I do and they had no historical context for what was going on, I think).

      A more nuanced answer:

      I think there are different “stages” to self-development. First you eliminate all negative influences in your life and re-program yourself from social conditioning. This can take anywhere from several months to many years.

      When you’ve done that, and you understand why and how all that stuff is harmful to you, you can be slightly more lenient with it. While mainstream media is still harmful, and you want to avoid it when you can, you can actually use some of it to your advantage, study it, or make it a “productive” activity by practicing your brain’s pattern recognition.

      Here’s how.

      1) Watching TV or movies and challenging yourself to find the underlying theme. Examples:
      In Star Wars the theme is “we’re all united by our faith in God”. In Rocky the theme is “the underdog wins”. In Avatar the theme is “save the environment”. In Planet of the Apes the theme is “racism is bad”.

      2) Consuming media or tabloids to gain inspiration or learn how it operates. Examples:
      Maybe you take note of how the media chooses to present a story. Maybe, as you are grocery shopping, you study the headlines or front covers of tabloids. And so on. . .

      Hope that clears things up.

      • Thank you for your quick reply, Ludvig.

        Have you heard about Vladimir Propp and his analysis of russian folk tales? He read or heard all of them, dissected them, and made a 31-step guide how those stories are similar, why they successfully persuade people to feel as they ‘ought to feel’. Here’s a link if you want to see one of the Star Wars movies dissected by his guide.

        http://changingminds.org/disciplines/storytelling/plots/propp/propp.htm

        It was a significant factor in my personal purge of any movie/TV I actually didn’t want to see.

        I went and saw all of the Hobbit movies, but I knew that they’re “Brotherhood”, “Tradition”, “Honor”, and the rest of the axioms/maxims/codewords/whatevers which go along hand in hand with those.

        One last thing; Have you seen the new Star Wars trailer? Do you think it’s still “God is Good”? Hint: Look at the Sith’s lightsaber. Notice anything different?

      • Erik: Thanks for the Propp link! Interesting that Tolkien’s later stories follow Prop’s narratemes like an outline, yet Wikipedia claims that Propp wasn’t translated until 1958. Maybe some of the Eastern European folk stories were translated by the brothers Grimm?

      • That’s really fascinating Ludvig maybe you could write more about your theory of “different stages” of self-development and how/IF it applies to other things in life?

      • I had not heard about Propp before. Great link and great site/resource Erik. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen the new Star Wars trailer so can’t say. But on a sidenote I read a bit about George Lucas recently and I think he’s a very smart and interesting person. If there was some good biography on him I would read it.

        Mr SNAKE,
        I actually have a draft of an article like that. But I don’t think I will publish it anytime in the next 6 months or so.

  2. Excellent article Ludvig

    “Who buys yogurt? Fat people who want to lose weight but don’t know much about nutrition”
    …had to chuckle at this one

  3. I disagree with 2 points you make:
    * “the anchormen and anchorwomen don’t get their jobs because they’re smart”. Maybe this is the case in Sweden, I don’t know, but you should google some of the anchor people working for quality international channels like BBC, Al Jazeera, Arte, France 2, …. and you will see that there is more to them than good looks & a pleasant voice. Most of these people do more than only read the news, they do high level interviews, investigative journalism, …

    * yoghurt is more than just sugar: it contains important bacterial cultures that are very beneficial for your intestinal flora.

    I did not read the rest of your article in depth, but with all due respect Ludvig, the bit that I read shows me that you talk a bit too easily & disparaging about some things, which surprises me from someone like you.

    • I dont think those were his main points, the key takeaways if you know ;)

    • There is no such thing as investigative journalism.

    • Sure there are talented reporters/news anchors. But they are the exception, not the rule. Here’s a female news anchor that I was very impressed with a few years ago when I was interested in financial topics.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5QBwtQa_Kk

      As for yogurt, well, it differs. There are yogurts that contain healthy gut bacteria. But if that’s the reason to eat it then there are better foods to eat. For example, when I had candida, yogurt was supposed to be one of the recommended “healthy” things to eat. But it just made me worse.

      I guess it’s different depending on what sort of stomach disease/deficiency you have, but in my experience yogurt is nothing special.

      • News anchors: I agree that there are more mediocre ones than good ones, and that is why you have to be choosy about which news you listen to on TV or the radio. There is bad news & there is good news. News indeed has little practical value for people who have little education to start with, or for those who just sit in front of the TV & stare at it senselessly. To get the full picture & real benefit from news you have to access different sources & curate for yourself.

        Yoghurt: to equate it to candy is ill-considered, to put it mildly. The fact that it made your candida worse does not mean you can write off yoghurt altogether for all its other health benefits for everyone else on the planet. The benefits for the intestinal flora I mentioned is not just good for some, it is good for most people, although there may well be exceptions. Furthermore, yoghurt contains plenty of vitamins & minerals that provide additional health benefits. Your equating yoghurt to candy is just an empty statement, you provide no scientific or other proof.

        I know the news anchors & yoghurt are mere examples to underscore the argument you build, but I do not find them convincing. The issues you raise contain a certain degree of veracity, but there are aspects that would need to be discussed with more nuances to really reflect reality or how to cope with or circumvent the negatives.

        Please don’t take this as negative criticism, but merely as a well-meant positive contribution to the discussion.

      • P.S. I did read all of your post before my reply :-))

  4. I think I’m lucky to have not bothered about mainstream media from very young. I consider it luck because it wasn’t a conscious decision. I was just never interested in TV shows like Friends, or the lives of celebrities, even when there were tons of these kind of people around me talking about it. I genuinely didn’t understand what was so interesting about it. Might have been because I was too much of a geek back then. I did lots of music, and that’s pretty much all I cared about (which wasn’t that good too I think).

    When reading this article, this quote came to mind: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

    By the way, I was just reading another article of yours that talked about this same (I think) girl at your corridor! And also, for some reason I didn’t expect you to be the same age as me. That was a big surprise for me. I thought you would be like 25-27. :P

    • You got off to a good start Jeremy.

      Regarding the girl: No. These were two other girls. The one you’re referring to was dumb as a cow. She would get drunk and pound on people’s doors to get attention.

  5. Throwing out my TV now, out the WINDOW!

    [Edward throws tv out from window on 3rd floor and hits pedestrian on the head]

    “Oops.”

    Well, I DID have good intentions :/
    Personal development can be dangerous.

    btw love the bow-tie on the image :)

    • Anonymous123 says:

      I liked this article, very motivational. Just what I needed – I knew a lot of this already – but I needed the reminder as most people around me don’t understand this, and I kind of struggle to “break free” of it.

      Some time ago I read another good article on TV that you or other readers maybe find interesting.
      http://swolemind.com/tv/

  6. Great article again, Ludwig. I am visiting your site since last summer, you never disappoint .I was wondering about what you do to entertain yourself. I am sure you do not do mainstream stuff like spending time on social media. I am guessing that you do not read books since you spend many energy to acquire knowledge. So what do you do to entertain yourself?

  7. Hey Ludvig,

    Great info here. I used to be one of those people who would indulge in watching wretched reality tv shows but thankfully, I can gladly say that I absolutely despise them! They offer no value to the human mind what so ever.

    It makes me sad that people would rather spend their lives decaying as you mentioned, but then again I’m not sad because that’s their choice, not mine. I know what I’m doing and it sure as hell doesn’t involve reality tv idiots.

    It’s amazing how people can be sucked in to the distractions of modern day life. I think because people have such boring lives, and they don’t know what to do about it, or how to go about changing it, they immerse themselves in distractions (disguised as reality shows etc) from their daily boring life.

    It just becomes a vicious circle, and they are the ones to complain of their shit life that they think someone should do something about it for them!

  8. Amazing post!

    I especially love the reference to the influence it has on the *actions* you take. Lots of the people I used to know thought I was strange for not doing things the “normal” way… until I realized that I simply didn’t *want* to do that stuff.

    I think most people adopt the “mass narrative”, and consequently reinforce that mindset through further consumption of the media. It’s funny because this is exactly how it works on the “social media” (bullshit) channels now too (notice all the new “hashtags” are total and utter shit — “Ice Bucket Challenge”? Just donate the money).

    The “reality” of TV is that it’s only as real as people *want* it to be. Much like porn, it’s got absolutely no bearing on real life. Real life is very tough & unjust, and in order to create anything worthwhile, you have to fight with everything you have, and more (where growth comes from).

    The best reference I have is from one of the Alan Watts videos on YouTube (is that ironic?…….. maybe….) where he says that people are transfixed on the small twittering box through which they view life, ignorant to the fact that there’s a whole world to explore.

    In reality, the best thing you can do for life is to live it.

  9. Have to agree with this and I myself influenced by the media bias for a long time.

    ‘Yes, we DO live in a just and fair world, where the underdog ALWAYS gets what he DESERVES, if he just WAITS long enough!’

    Suited me. Thats my thought 12 months back but I now understood the effect of media on me and stopped reading/watching any related to entertainment news. I watch movies that interests me. Reset my priorities and media has no place in it.

  10. And thanks for providing us with the new e-book ‘Mind Matrix’. I am using Android phone and I installed Mind games and Unblock me apps in it. Whenever I need some minutes of rest, I play them and feel better.

  11. Another great article Ludvig. I like how you’re willing to quote Ayn Rand outside of her more well-known ideologies that give her a bad reputation in the US.

    Combining this with The Bard Notes, it seems like mainstream media is really trying to own the internet and take it for itself. Our attention is becoming a commodity, and the importance of focus/self-discipline is greater than ever. Since the old guard media companies are noticing this, and noticing that they are losing the share of influence on young people, suddenly they’re trying to roll back a free and open internet, disguised by “anti-piracy” nonsense.

    I just got home for the holidays, where my parents own a TV. I can’t stand it already. Besides the occasional hockey game. The news is so predictable and useless. I’d much rather have the internet.

    • Yeah I think you’re absolutely right about the “buying attention” part. We’re increasingly shifting into an attention economy, especially as far as media and online things go.

      This is actually a major point I want to make in BOOH (my book).

  12. Why are events like Ferguson and Michael Brown so “important?” Because a white cop kills a black person and gets away with it?
    Amazing post by the way. This pushed me over the edge with mainstream media. Books are great! (The right ones)

    • Great to hear Thomas.
      Got any book recommendations as of lately?

      • Nothing we don’t already know probably: Managing Oneself, 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and The Selfish Gene.

    • The answer is because everybody gets an emotional reaction from it, and seemingly everyone has a strong opinion on the topic.

      So I see what you mean, but I do think it is important as a symbol of a lot of underlying racial tensions that still exist today. Much, much more than just a white cop killing a black kid. You have to look at the bigger picture. But for most news viewers, yes, it IS basic, useless stimulation as it was reported.

  13. As far as writing is concerned, this was probably (ironically) your most immersive/entertaining yet, though that may be because some of it hit a little close to home.

    On a different note, last time I mentioned squats you said that you could do 140 kg for one rep. Out of curiosity, how much has this changed?

  14. 1. As I noted in 2007, viewing television (and presumably, movies) causes the rational part of the mind to shut down (actual research, but I couldn’t track it down in 2007 and I’m not going to try now). The content doesn’t matter; whether it’s news, a history documentary, or The Who Fucked Who Show, the result is the same. People sometimes tell me that they watch TV “for news” or “mostly PBS”. They’re still shutting down their brains, and even the best television is less informative than reading a good book (or even a mediocre book). None of these people (even those with PhDs) have a worthwhile knowledge base; at best they have dissociated random fragments. And they ask me things like, “Don’t you want to know what’s going on the world?” – as if the disinformation they complacently absorb was a substitute for geopolitical facts, historical context, and the realities of economics and science. As far as the gross facts of “current events” – the few things that even the “news” media can’t hide, and that actually matter – I hear them soon enough anyway, along with more than enough about who won the latest game/election and all the great products I am missing out on. Even the most discriminating viewers learn jackshit from television.

    2. Why news is never “happy”: Schadenfreude. People WANT to hear about, and see, other people suffering, not being happy. If you posted a video of a little kid playing with a puppy, how many people would watch it, beside your grandmother? If you want to be viewed, post a video of a dog biting some dude’s nuts.

    3. Girl 1: “…I deserve to relax.” This is an interesting attitude, when you think about it. Relaxation is necessary, nothing wrong with it in moderation, but is being unproductive really the goal, the final reward? To me, this is kind of like saying, “I deserve to take a shit.” Necessary, and pleasant for a little while, but it’s not what I live for.

    4. It’s not really fair to say that news in the U.S. is “disguised propaganda” because it’s not actually disguised, except in the same way that a three-year old “disguises” herself as a princess by waving a pink plastic tiara around.

    5. Terrorism is an excellent example both of how the media exploits the natural cognitive biases of average people for attention and money, and of how the government exploits them to extend its power. And it is only because of the media coverage that terrorism can be an attractive tactic; in terms of tangible damage, terrorism is not only less important than the energy crisis, it is less important than constipation.

    6. Sentiments like that made Fountainhead great, and their lack made Atlas Shrugged – not great.

    7. I just can’t help pointing out that radiation doesn’t cause decay; in fact, it prevents it (by killing decay organisms). Yes, I’m a nerd.

    • This is a really good comment man.

      “I deserve to take a shit.”

      Hahahhhaha. So do I. This should be a catchphrase!

      About US “disguised” propaganda – well, considering you wrote that article 7 years ago and have known this stuff for so long I think you are overestimating most other people’s ability to see through it. Or perhaps I misunderstand what you mean…….

      • Thank you mr SNAKE. Note that I do NOT expect the average person to see through it, and even those who do see through it often lack the will to take any action. I fully expect the average person to be below average in all things.

      • Ok i got you then.

    • Great points Abgrund!

      “at best they have dissociated random fragments.”

      –Yes. This is something that I’ve thought about a lot. They lack what I refer to as a “philosophical framework”, so they’re just consuming information for the sake of feeling good. It doesn’t build towards anything and it can’t be applied. I have a huge article about this I will publish some time in the next months. It will be one of the most important one on the site.

      ” and even the best television is less informative than reading a good book”

      –I agree.

      I also agree regarding Fountainhead vs Atlas Shrugged.

  15. Excellent! Never read the news or watch TV, although I do watch some tv-shows but make sure I’m drawing at the same time. It’s basically background noise. Grew up as a metalhead reading Swedish Nihilist Underground Society (SNUS, not sure if it still exists, can’t find the articles now.. anus.com is nice though, mostly for metal and interesting articles (despite the name)) articles talking alot of shit about the mainstream media and prefering solitude and my own thoughts over that shit anyway. It’s amazing how time consuming watching TV can be as well, you can easily sit there being brainwashed/brainemptied for hours in a row believing you actually did something. I remember reading that our brain works less while watching TV than during sleep.

    • Haha, sweet abbreviations.

      “you can easily sit there being brainwashed/brainemptied for hours in a row believing you actually did something.”

      –Yeah. I think YouTube and Facebook are much the same, so I try to take preventive measures before using them.

  16. I have this theory of my own about media.

    One thing I have thought about with mainstream media is that first it covers some big news, and often in a very emotional and simplistic way, so that even a kid can understand the point they’re trying to make, leaving no room for questions or curiosity. Only “it is like this. This guy is crazy and what happened is horrible.” or some other one-sided perspective.

    Then if that news segment is offensive enough it might go viral and if that happens it can have a totally new interpretation, depending on which big group of people get their hands on it to further their own agenda.

    One example of this a few months ago was a guy in the US called Eliott Rodgers, AKA “The Virgin Killer”. The “sensational angle” they went with was that he was rich, and good-looking, but still he could never get a woman so he killed a bunch of them and then killed himself. Obviously there is more to it than this but Im no expert on this, this is only my interpretation.

    Now here’s the funny part……… After he did that and it got a lot of attention and coverage different big groups tried to use this to their advantage as say that is was proof that they were right.

    Feminists said he was a misogynist and started a hashtag on twitter (#yesallwomen i think). Guys who were into PUA stuff said it was because Eliott didn’t know how to pick up women and was brainwashed by social conditioning. Racists said this was why interbreeding should be illegal, because Eliott was half white half asian. Poor people said this was an example of how rich people think they’re better than everyone else and can get away with whatever they want, because Eliott was born in a wealthy family – his father helped make the movie The Hunger Games..

    And so on. There were more groups that did the same thing….. You get my point I think. I remember looking at the comment section of some YT video and seeing the diversity in extreme opinions, it was easy for me to notice which group the commenter identified with. Hehe.

    Something to think about.

    Btw writing this made realize right now made me feel smart ;)
    Thanks for giving me a reason to share this.

  17. Cardigan blue says:

    I am addicted to watching tv series. I always find a way to fool myself into watching another ‘just one more episode’. Shows like Game of thrones, Suits, Dexter, and Entourage to name a few have ruined my university grades. I realize its my own fault but i just cant seem to stop. Anyone else who has experienced.this and stopped??

    • When I was (supposed to be) writing my final thesis at business school way back in 1993, I suddenly found myself having access to two different movie channels with free porn.

      Instead of graduating one year early, I more or less wasted a year memorizing the names of all the current porn stars and directors.

      In the end it wasn’t a total waste, since I extended my education to a master’s degree, but I did lose a lot of sleep and hardly ever saw daylight that year.

      I turned out OK anyway, and I still watch a lot of TV series…

      I DO have a trick these days, and that is to NOT watch whole episodes. I set aside a specific amount of time, e.g. 25 minutes or 2 hours for that matter, for relaxing with a TV series. When the time is up, I turn it off right away, saving the cliffhanger for the next time.

      It’s the cliffhangers in TV-series that make you watch “just one more episode”, in the end wasting 5-10 hours in a single day. 1-2 hours of meaningless TV entertainment per day won’t hurt you, but 3-4 might, and 5-10 definitely will.

      • Hahah this is hilarious!

        And I mean it in a positive way, I think it’s actually really cool that you admit this!

      • Cardigan blue says:

        Thanks for helping out and I am glad Im not the only one! (not counting my close friends, who arent very ambitious..)
        I didnt know that about cliffhangers but it makes a lot of sense and now that you say it i can remember lots of examples from House of Cards and Lost. I couldnt stop watching those!

        You seem to have a cool site btw maybe you could write about this??

    • Yes, I have been there. Watched all the ones you’ve mentioned, and Breaking Bad. The only way not to fool yourself is to make it dead clear to yourself that this is dangerous.

      If you haven’t overcome it, it is because you haven’t fully realized (and note I said ‘realise’ not ‘know’) how destructive it is.

      What I do in situations likes these when my brain tries to block thinking about something is I write and write and write about it for a whole day. It may seem excessive to you, but if it is important to you, you’ll do it

      • Cardigan blue says:

        Yes I think Youre right. I ‘know’ it’s bad but at the same time I fall for it. I havent had that ’emotional switch’ of having enough that people talk of, i have trouble seeing and then breaking my homeostasis. But now with yours and Karl-Mikaels tips I will hopefully be better off. Going to not watch anything until Sunday!

  18. Fantastic article Ludvig! So great that I had to send it to a friend, who also loved it! I too haven’t had a tv since I lived with my parents. I keep an ad blocker on my browser that filters out all ads on youtube and pandora and mostly just read books and watch movies of my choosing so I was kind of following your advice without even knowing how beneficial it is .Thank you and Bravo for spreading the word! PS. I love the joke about yogurt. So true!

  19. Yay! Finally an article that doesn’t give you the chance to show off your perfect abs (not that I’m complaining!)

    I really loved this article because it’s what I’ve been screaming at zombies who are addicted to their TV’s for years now. Nobody listens, nobody understands, everyone is just using their Sky+ app to make sure their fav programs are recorded for when the get home and ‘deserve a break’.

    You are right when you say throw your TV out the window because people don’t realise how dangerously effective it’s content is. Unless you understand media and the way it works you will never understand the extend of the impact TV has (or is having on your life). Media is 100% controlled content. Nothing is a coincidence and has been put there to create an emotion, feeling, or action within you.

    That might be to make you feel inadequate if you can’t shake you ass like Rihanna (and you should so be doing that if you want a man, girls). Or to install fear when the terrorist threat is raised, so you naturally agree to further lifestyle restricts, after all it prevents ‘terrorism’. Or even to just act like a lunatic because it’s black Friday, why not these items may never be produced again!

    My TV intake has dropped drastically and now I can’t bare to watch such crap when I do have the opportunity.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with watching and enjoy TV, but understand that most of what you see is orchestrated.

    Good job here. Loved it

    Naomi

  20. Hi Ludvig!
    First of all I would like to say that I am a huge fan of all your work, you are a true inspiration :)

    I also liked this particular article a lot and it made me think of this video by Terence Mckenna, which I am sure that you will enjoy if you haven’t seen it before.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eu9GfHCpVo

    Keep up the good work bro! Cheers from Denmark

  21. I remember reading an earlier no-media blog post of yours about 3 months ago, and I haven’t watched a single youtube video or accessed facebook more than once every 2 weeks. In fact I don’t let any useless information in whatsoever. I have been quite effective at this. So thanks. Looks like its a habit for a lifetime.

    I have only watched 2 movies, i.e. godfather and watchmen, and only because I wanted to generate a greater interest in the book versions of the same which you recommended

  22. Excellent post,

    I think you bring up a great point about reading. The average person doesn’t read at all, this person is an extremely easy target for media mindfucking because they haven’t looked at our society as a whole in a historical context. They just want to get home from wage slavery in enough time to watch dancing with the stars.

  23. Fantastic post here,

    I’ve found what we consume comes out in our actions and attitudes. Always watching the news or TV shows can negatively impact our life. Besides the time waited watching them it also greatly impacts our inner life. Keep writing great content!

  24. Yoghurt is not healthy?! *heartbroken*

    I have no TV since September. We had no funds to buy a new one after purchasing a house. The bliss won’t last forever, but I’m still happy ;)
    My family is a bit healthier mentally because of that ;)

    What keeps me away from TV is the awareness that I have a monkey brain. Whenever I see the pictures moving, my thinking process freezes.
    I totally don’t get the idea of educational videos. I learn 100 times more via reading.

    I don’t think TV is so bad, because it brainwashes us. It’s so bad, because it sucks our time (=life). This time in which I could read or do anything else more constructive.

  25. Hey Ludvig, excellent article, my TV gathers dust on my locker for 5 years now and counting. I’m also interested if you have heard about the book Trust me, I’m Lying, by Ryan Holiday.

  26. I quit mindless media consumption four years ago after implementing the “Low Information Diet” presented in the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

    Lately, I’ve been cheating a bit and watching more movies than I should be with the rationalization that it’s “just entertainment”.

    This is an excellent reminder of why I got rid of my TV – thanks Ludvig, brilliant article!

  27. How do you think is the best way to study & learn history? What are 3 really good books?

  28. In short, see real people, friends and family, to fill your quota of 200 VIPs, and do real stuff, instead of living the life of a second-hander, watching and envying others and trying to make others envious of you.

  29. Hey, Ludvig. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the work of an American writer by the name of David Foster Wallace. But he wrote an essay that is just about the most comprehensive deconstruction of TV, the media and how both simultaneously enchant and denature our thinking, that I’ve ever read. In fact it’s probably the best essay I’ve ever read full stop. Anyway, in case you’re interested, the essay is called E Unibus Pluram: Television & U.S. Fiction. It’s very insightful. Great post as always. I don’t have a TV either, ain’t had one for around 5 years and don’t think I’ll ever have one again for the rest of my life for many of the reasons you outline here.

  30. Thank you for the recommendation Micah. I will read it–sounds like it’s right up my alley!

  31. hej ludvig! Is there any chance you could write deeper about how you got rid of candida albicans than just your steps you wrote in that email. Id love just to have a to do list and a what not to do list. did you go to a doctor or did you just figure out you had one. Also how did you know you were cured. Tack på förhand!

    • Hey Leon,

      It took me forever to figure out. First I thought I suffered low testosterone, bipolar disorder, and lack of various vitamins and minerals (despite having an on-point diet).

      I worked it out through a process of elimination, basically. It was not until I had exhausted lots of other alternatives that I found out I had candida–and yes, I went to the doctor to do a candida test (in Canada).

      I figured out I was cured when I realized I could drink alcohol, binge in desserts, eat gluten, and drink milk without feeling like I had to collapse from fatigue and brain fog. Also, I did not get “high” and euphoric from eating those things anymore, which I got when I had candida. That took me somewhere between 6-12 months of serious dieting and frequent fasting.

      I am not planning to write a candida article anytime soon.

      • Thanks for your reply. Im most cuttain I am suffering from one aswell and want to handle it properly.Im just scared Ill mess it up. Being a poor student aswell its really hard to follow a diet. Agian thanks for your reply

  32. I couldn’t agree more with some of the ideas you put forth here. Well put Ludvig.

    Btw how important do you believe philosophy is? In general and for financial success. Also do you have any advice for how one might start to “practice” it?

  33. Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thans for the information!

Trackbacks

  1. […] . . .and by concerning oneself with a multitude of things every day leads to DISTRACTION and loss of focus. I believe it’s important to consciously choose what sort of stimulation I expose myself to (this is also why I think mainstream media and sports is a waste of time). […]

  2. […] não traduzirei seu guia sobre a grande mídia, recomendo que quem saiba ler inglês, o leia aqui. Ele chega a mesma conclusão que eu havia chegado, e de uma maneira […]

  3. […] They are probably down-town, drink-in-hand, sitting in their favorite booths like the cast from How I Met Your Mother.” […]

Speak Your Mind

*

Join thousands of others and get free access to my 75 BEST TIPS + exclusive content in the SGM newsletter.