Junk Media

Have we thought about how we feed our heads.

We now pay attention to what we put in our bodies, more or less, but have we really started to think about what we put in heads. I’m talking about “junk media.”

For years and years Americans have subsisted on an intellectual diet of vapid soap operas and sitcoms. If this is not bad enough at key temporal junctures (when our attention is greatest) these dramas are interrupted by efforts to sell us products we usually do not need and can ill afford. Products such as bread, with little nutrional value; vehicles, such as SUVs, which have little correspondence with actual use unless such use is to waste valuable fuel and parking space; or loan programs, with high interest rates, we can not afford to pay off.

This complete lack of concern over media content (other then for profits) by its creators combined with consumption of such products by individuals completely oblivious to possibility that such information could be harmful leads to a bad situation. A situation where healthy values are eroded, useless even dangerous information is imparted and opportunities for learning are lost.

Some may argue that the existence of junk media might be good for the country because it is the chumps, rubs and weak minded among us who are most likely to be lead astray and buy harmful products they don’t need, can ill afford and which eventually will lead to their demise. However, humanity dictates we save these hapless characters.

The first step to dealing with this problem is being aware of it. The second step is avoiding it. The final step is rooting it out. With respect to the later, modern media filtering devices could prove critical in keeping it from our own door steps. Choosing relatively pristine news sources, unfettered by the distortions of commercial and other agendas, would also be helpful. Stopping the information before it even leaves the media source is also an option. Junk media could contain warnings about its content. The most dangerous media content can be limited to certain media neighborhoods and time slots .

As to what content should be classified as “bad” I make no recommendation other then that it is something the public should decide directly or indirectly. In a sense this might already be happening indirectly through polling systems like the Nielsen ratings. But, I think we need to recognize the problem on a conscious rather then sub-conscious level and realize the interest of commercial entities does not always correspond with our interest as people. For this reason the content of our media needs to be tempered by the body politic through regulations that reflect and protect the interest of the people the system is designed to protect and nurture. The first step is awareness.

Ed R. Taylor