The Media and Being Human
One of the common false narratives running through the media is that of inhumanity is power. Human traits like empathy and compassion are eschewed for a “I don’t care what you think or say”, winner takes all, dog eat dog kind of corporate mentality. I could sit here and write about how this is part of a wider transhumanist push by some people (placeholder link to The Powers that Don’t Be) to encourage us to be like them (i.e. sociopathic), but that’s not what this article is about. It’s about the underlying media narrative that being human limits us.
There are signs of this narrative everywhere. From ruthless CEO’s like Steve Jobs who are glorified by the media as visionary messiah’s while in reality they treated their employees like human effluence, swearing at them and belittling their contributions, through to celebrated TV and movie characters like Walter White (Breaking Bad), Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wallstreet), James Bond etc. Each of these people willingly sacrifices their capacity for compassion and heart in exchange for power and each is put up on a pedestal by the media.
We already know Jobs’ story. Walter meanwhile becomes a drug kingpin but loses his wife, his son, and his brother in law in his pursuit of power, Jordan profits to the tune of tens of millions of dollars on the suffering and misery of those who would never buy from him if they new the truth about what he was selling (i.e. toxic stocks) and what he thought about them. Finally we have Bond, ostensibly an MI-6 secret agent but underneath, little more than a glorified sociopath; a stone-cold, remorseless killer and pathological liar with superficial charm. Why exactly do we cheer for these people again?
The narrative underlying these kinds of characters provides wish fulfillment for people, spinning an appealing fairy tale, how much easier would life be for me if I didn’t care what anyone else thought, but it also subtly transforms our definition of what it means to be human by playing on the kind of dissilusioned-with-life ego-fantasy that many people share in their daily lives. The implication of these characters is that if you sell your humanity, you too will be rewarded with power and influence. It’s the kind of angle that encourages us to view each other as tools or stepping stones, rather than thinking, feeling human beings. It glorifies sociopathy at the expense of humanity, which is ultimately a morally bankrupt, empty view of life.
It’s during times of feeling that we are most alive. Have you ever seen a beautiful sunset and felt something stir within? Or had someone give you a compliment out of the blue that struck a chord deep within you? How about listening to a haunting piece of music that lingered within you minutes, if not hours, after you stopped listening to it? That’s what we signed up for. If we wanted an anaethetized experience, we wouldn’t have chosen to be human.
Are you as sick of this rubbish as I am? Do you want to fight back? I hope so! Here’s how you do it.
You already have everything you will need inside you. You don’t need to know anyone important or have access to special books or CD’s and you certainly don’t need any new age mumbo jumbo.
Just be human.
If you are happy, smile and let the world know it. If you are hurt, don’t bottle it up, let it out. You don’t have to throw a tantrum, but you can remind the world that (placeholder link to It’s Okay To Cry). You can say to yourself, I’m going to be human, even if you can’t, or won’t. Help pry people out of their emotionally anemic, shutdown existence by reminding them what humanity looks like. Let’s face it, there are an awful lot of reasons to cry about things the way they are, but there are also a lot of things to be grateful for as well.
That is what it means to be human. Not this shallow and ultimately harmful hollywood-esque neo-humanity (which is really just glorified sociopathy in disguise). Don’t fall for it. The next time someone tries to convince you that it’s good to suppress your feelings, to show no emotion, offer to give them a hug. They might not go for it, but you won’t know unless you try.
It felt good writing this one. This issue has been lingering in my thoughts for a long time and I’ve only just touched on it. That and it’s been a rough week, so I could really use a hug myself.