Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

What I’m going to write about in today’s blog will come as no surprise to any of you. No great insight or revelations. And I’m sure most of you will agree with the overall concept.

Today, we no longer live in a word-based society. We have transformed into an image-based society over the last few decades, and this has enormous implications for all of us. The world we live in today focuses on the headlines, the sound bite, and, at best, perhaps a paragraph. You remember the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words?, Perhaps today a picture is worth 10,000, 20,000 or 100,000 words. This new reality that we all must deal with is, in part, due to a rapid development in technology that has led to an explosion of Internet usage, which is primarily an image-based medium.

Images projected on video screens can be found in every aspect of life. The end result is we now have much shorter attention spans thanks to the expansion to an image-based society. We cannot concentrate on any one thing for any length of time. Today’s news and sports channels are crowded with multiple layers of information. Why? Because that’s what’s required to keep our attention.

I have witnessed this firsthand. Working with high school and college age students for the past 25 years, I have seen a significant decrease in the ability to focus and pay attention. I can’t count the times I have talked to students while at the same time they were playing around with their mobile media devices. It’s as if an entire generation has been infected with some sort of virus.

Another casualty and perhaps the greatest tragedy is that reading is rapidly declining. Newspapers are practically dead thanks to the Internet. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 read only 7 minutes a day. Seventy percent of 13 year olds do not read daily. Their conclusion is the obvious that young people are reading less.

Focusing on images or pictures and reading a headline or two means you will only skim the surface of any issue or current affairs. We live in an increasingly complex society. Without reading and thinking, we will not be able to have the perspective, insight or knowledge to make informed decisions.

Where does all of this ultimately lead to? We are putting ourselves into a position where we can be more easily controlled and manipulated by today’s mass media culture. Believe me when I tell you this. If you are not willing to think for yourself and do your own research, someone is more than willing to tell you what to think. And that someone is today’s media.

The funny thing about images, which are nothing more than pictures, is that they are easily manipulated by skilled media makers. Advertisers for years have used these persuasive techniques to get us to buy their products. Most images, such as the flag (patriotism), family, home, nature, and wealth are buried deep within our subconscious and carry powerful symbolism and meaning to us. By rearranging various images on multiple media platforms, it’s possible to assign new meaning and feeling and create new mythologies (belief systems) around those images, which may or may not be true.

I have written several articles and blog entries concerning these issues in greater detail if you would like to know more. They are also contained in my new book, The Red Pill, a Cure for Today’s Mass Media Culture. The bottom line is I hope for this new year you make a decision to be more aware of the negative side of living in an image-based world.

I don’t set myself apart or try to pretend that I’m not susceptible to this manipulation and control. I have to make a decision every day to be aware of it and to stay focused. Make this a year that you decide to read more and make your own decisions. Yes, I encourage you to read my blog and website, but the point is just start reading, and especially the Word of God. It will help you to increase your attention span and focus and will also help you decipher what is true, what is not true and what is manipulation.

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