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Media Is Not Reality

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At this point I think everyone knows there is little real about reality TV.  I find it interesting that social media, while social, is often not real either.  A 2012 piece on social media at colleges contained this little tidbit:

“People tend to want to show others that they are having fun than actually having fun themselves,” said University of South Florida graduate Mark Clennon.

Grammatical complications notwithstanding, that is a stunning admission.  Apparently we live in a time so media saturated that media presentation matters more than reality.  I mean that is why reality TV is so unreal – reality just does not play well on TV.  It seems some people live their whole lives like its a reality TV show.  Like the kids that make their pictures look like a mega-party when it is really six buddies hanging out, everything we see in media  is crafted on some level.  In other words we live in an age where media confuses a message as much and often more than it transmits it.

The most influential figures in human history – Jesus, Mohammad, that level of influential – are from a non-media age.  That should also tell us something about media – its effects are massive, but not necessarily lasting.  Media permits reaching a large audience, but by virtue of the confusion it can create and the degree of separation it puts between producer and consumer, its effects are far more transient than can be produced by real personal interaction.

I do not know enough about Mohammad to speak intelligently about him, but Jesus I do know.  Jesus came to change the world and he did so by working very closely with twelve individuals.  Yes, He spoke to masses from time-to-time, but if that had been all He had done He would be largely absent from the history books.  It was His work with the twelve that changed the world.

As a media phenomena, this election cycle is amazing.  But if media is often confusing and transient in its effect, we as voters have to work extra hard to see through the haze and look for permanence.

But then most people reading this blog are already people that work extra hard to punch through the media haze.  These observations really have more to say to us than to the candidates.  What are we going to do with what we have learned from our efforts?

Sure, post your observations to Facebook, retweet the the good stuff, but we all need to get involved in the lives of the people around us.  Our Facebook and Twitter feeds are not really going to change things.  It is very, very difficult to influence the vote of someone “out there” that we know vaguely.  But we can with a little effort influence the vote of that someone you see everyday at home, on the bus, in the grocery store, at church.

Everybody knows this is not a run-of-the-mill election cycle, and not just because of the media circus.  This nation did not repudiate the madness that is Obama last cycle, in large part because of the media haze. In this cycle there is no Obama, only the madness.  If the nation does not repudiate it we will have sunk into it likely never to return.

The media strum-und-drang this cycle is entertaining in the extreme, but we cannot let it become the stuff of the election.  Particularly those of us that call Jesus Lord.  He gave us an example to follow when it comes to really trying to change things.  Maybe we need to spend a lintel less energy on the media circus and a little more on following that example.


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