Mass Media is a system like no other – it has no function of its own, so it can just keep growing. It has no positive aim for society, and regards all knowledge just a matter of opinion. Therefore the Mass Media subverts all that is useful, and everything that gives meaning and purpose to life… Mass Media rules by default: by distraction, by addiction, by filling our minds – unrelentingly pouring-in ever-more media-selected stuff. __ Addicted to Distraction
If you continue reading what Bruce Charlton writes here, you will have no alternative but to begin to think. And that is something our modern mass milieu does not want you doing . . .
How can I convince you that you are deluded?
Well, it won’t be easy because you are not alone; you a part of a folie a billion, a mass delusion, induced by the Mass Media.
You are, in fact, subject to the most pervasive and effective propaganda in the history of humanity; a propaganda which has people not noticing the evidence of their eyes and ignoring the evidence of their own experience.
We allow, we encourage, we demand for this to happen because we are inside the Mass Media and addicted to it; and although it destroys all that makes meaning, purpose, and relationship possible; the Mass Media then takes our alienated, adrift, self-loathing and lonely selves and offers distraction, consolation, absorption, fragments and glimmerings of pleasure and self-forgetfulness… __ Bruce Charlton “Addicted to Distraction”
You may think you have successfully moved into life “beyond the bubble,” but if so you are doubly deluded. You have merely moved from a bubble you can see, into another bubble that you cannot see.
If you truly try to step outside the bubble, you will receive a severe shock to your view of the world around you.
… outside the media bubble is perceived to be the domain of wild, solitary sadists, muttering lunatics, and populist, redneck lynch mobs … __ Psychological Consequences of the modern Mass Media
Even if you are receiving sidelong glances, being snubbed by former friends and acquaintances, you are still not truly outside the bubble. Unless you have been raised outside the bubble, there is no clear means of escape — even when it seems that you are clear.
Most thoughtful people would acknowledge that they may have been misled by the Mass Media, and some of them have the insight that the Media has some kind of overall tendency or trend – but hardly anybody recognizes the sheer depth and inter-connected comprehensiveness of the falsehoods they themselves live within.
Because once inside the Mass media (and almost everybody is inside it nowadays, in the West) then wherever they turn the delusions are confirmed – the only consistency available is the consistency of delusion – and the Mass Media provides the ‘facts’ and the ‘reasoning’ by which we talk with other people. __ AtD
Many people pride themselves on having escaped the net of “western media,” only to have fallen deeply into the grasp of “Kremlin media,” “doomer media,” “anti-war media,” “green media,” or some other sideshow media format that is likely even more of a mind-numbing echo choir than what they believed they had escaped.
After a partial unraveling, the same mind-threads re-coalesce around the new core delusions, and continue on as before — as if nothing had really changed. Which it truly had not.
At any moment, the particular Mass Media frame may itself be discarded and replaced by another frame, without explanation or justification except the imperative to maintain effective distraction.
… Clearly – by all appearances – the mass media dominate modern societies; yet because the mass media are the water in which we swim, they are almost invisible to us as a medium, and we only notice the specific ‘informational’ content of the messages.
Yet aside from specific content, the medium – in other words the single, inter-connected, densely communicating system of the Mass Media – is itself the main message.
The medium is the main message in the sense that the reality of such a vast communication system, and the principles of its operations, is overwhelmingly more important than the distinctions and differentiations between the informational content of the communications. __ Addicted to Distraction
Charlton goes on to describe the “permanent revolution” aspect of the mass milieu. The mass media is in a perpetual roiling state of uneasiness and anxiety. One crisis is “resolved” only just in time for another catastrophic generator of existential angst to be revealed.
Permanent revolution means that the Mass Media has no positive goal or aim – there is no long-term plan to structure society in some permanently-sustainable way; indeed whatever is was or may in future be achieved, exists only to be dismantled and replaced when expedient.
This is, indeed, the primary and essential difference between the Old and New Left – the Old Left intended to make Heaven on Earth – Utopia. And then stop – and maintain utopia (because who would want to change utopia?). And this justified the humanly unprecedented ruthlessness of the Old Left – the End was so wonderful that any Means were justifiable in trying to reach it.
But when utopia showed no signs of arriving, the revolutionary impulse began to feed off itself; and revolution succeeded revolution in an iterative cycle aimed at destroying the forces opposed to revolution – but without any genuine or stable long term purpose.
This is precisely how the modern Mass Media works. Over time, it identifies, mocks, subverts, weakens, destroys and finally inverts and reverses any group or person that opposes revolution – but with no goal. No stable, explicit, long-term aimed-for state of affairs which is being implemented.
The body of Charlton’s online book goes on to explain the core reality and mechanisms of the media bubble, a nearly escape-proof system. If you are like most persons, thinking deeply about such things will evoke feelings of unsteadiness. That is a good sign, an indication that you are pushing against the bubble in which you are confined.
A cognitive dissonance springs up once we begin to truly realise that everything we think we know, just ain’t so. We can either slink back to the mass milieu — the bubble which includes facebook as well as mass media, that includes organised religion alongside organised propaganda from government, media, and academia. The bubble is vast, and it encompasses you and everything you think you know.
A person cannot be truly competent until he begins to clear parts of his cognition of mass delusion. At that point, he will begin to recognise others who have begun working on the same task.
Communication at that point can be rather recursive, quasi-tautological, and outright ineffable. But the attempt must be made. You probably don’t yet understand what I mean, but if you persist, you will.
Skim the book, then read the book, then study the book, then think long and hard. It will not represent the end of delusion, but it may illuminate a small opening into something that you never before imagined.
And then you will have an entirely new set of self-constructed delusions to escape and evade. But that is just the human condition.
Bruce G. Charlton is a British medical doctor and Visiting Professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham. Since 2001, he has been Reader in Evolutionary Psychiatry at Newcastle University. Charlton was editor of Medical Hypotheses from 2003 to 2010.
Charlton graduated with honours from the Newcastle Medical School in Newcastle upon Tyne, took a doctorate at the Medical Research Council Neuroendocrinology group, and did postgraduate training in psychiatry and public health. He has held university lectureships in physiology, anatomy, epidemiology, and psychology; and holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Durham University in North East England.
Note: The distinction between concrete expertise — such as expert surgery, skilled construction, successful entrepreneurship, competent navigation, etc. — and delusional intellectualism which we typically find in media, academia, government, and other dysfunctional bureaucracies, is important to observe.
Dangerous Children are raised in the world of broad competence and multiple practical skills, so that they have the ability to support themselves financially by the age of 18 at least 3 different ways. This stands in marked contrast to a typical western upbringing divorced from practicality, stranding young people in a lifelong helpless, incompetent adolescence.
Some readers — including possibly Charlton himself — may object to my placement of organised religion alongside mass media, mass academia, and mass government as foundational aspects of the mass milieu. I am not referring to spirituality or personal religiosity when I write of “organised religion.” I am referring to religious bureaucracy.
We will be looking further into the distinction between practical competence and the bubble competence of the mass milieu. We will also look further into the distinction between philosophy and ideology — a crucial contrast in the upbringing of a Dangerous Child.