Feel Like A Civil War Is Coming? You’re Supposed To.

antietam-140324_1280Do you feel like the world is going crazy? You’re supposed to feel that way.

News corporations make gazillions exploiting our fears and making us angry. They make their videos dramatic and attractive so we will keep watching and scrolling and clicking. The “news” about a coming civil war is a tragic example.

The media is specially designed to manipulate our emotions by people who profit from our division and discontent. And it’s having real world consequences. It’s leading us to make decisions that many of us regret, losing the freedom and purpose and peace that we all could otherwise experience.

Neil Postman knew all this in the 1980’s. His prophetic book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business should be required reading for anyone who wants to avoid being manipulated by media.

Postman found the News to be among the most insidious forms of media manipulation, primarily because it is presented through a medium (television) that does not encourage rational thought, but is all about stirring up our emotions. He wrote before social media, where we perpetuate irrational, emotional arguments by the petabyte.

Continue reading “Feel Like A Civil War Is Coming? You’re Supposed To.”

YouTube Kids Isn’t The Babysitter You’re Looking For

Boy Staring At A Phone
CC0 Creative Commons Attribution / by Andi Graf

Parents: If there was a cute, colorful, friendly robot that would babysit your kids for free, would you use it?

What if the robot was programmable by people around the world, so that anyone could teach it new games to play with your kids?

What if a company like Google offered this amazing robot, promising that an algorithm would make sure the user-submitted games were “family friendly?”

Then, what if you heard that some user-submitted games were sneaking through their filters, teaching the robot to play games that would scare your kids, encourage sexual practices or self-harm, or even put their lives at risk?

Well, if you’d still like use such a robot, you don’t need to wait. YouTube Kids is on your phone, ready to babysit your kids with Google-powered algorithms designed to protect your kids.

Don’t worry. Only a small fraction of kids might see their PAW Patrol friends become hypnotized by a demon-possessed doll and commit suicide by walking off a roof. Or see Mickey Mouse laying in a pool of blood after being hit by a car. Or Spider-Man peeing on Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Or Nickelodeon characters visiting a strip club. Or a live-action “family playing roughly with a young girl, including a scene in which her forehead is shaved, causing her to wail and appear to bleed.”

Those are just a few of the videos that have slipped through Google’s algorithmic babysitter documented in a recent New York Times article.

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Don’t Be Fooled By Facebook Propaganda

by Schwerdhoefer, CC0 Creative Commons

Facebook is on the hot seat these days. With claims of being a “living, breathing crime scene,” former leaders who say it is “ripping apart” society, and calls to kill a new product because of its danger to children, all is not well at the world’s most powerful social media empire.

In response to recent criticism, Facebook’s Minister of Propaganda Director of Global Safety Antigone Davis appeared on CBS This Morning to promote the company’s messaging. You can watch the 5 minute CBS segment here.

Davis’ every answer is filled with carefully crafted propaganda. Yes, propaganda. Many people will be taken in by it because it is so compelling and emotionally powerful. I hope you’ll keep reading so you and your family won’t be deceived by it.

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It’s Not Too Late To NOT Give Your Child A Screen For Christmas

Photo: Creative Commons, source

The most powerful corporations of our time have made it cheap and easy for us to give them direct access to the hearts and minds of our kids.

They have intentionally designed their devices to be addictive. That’s why they’re cheap; they know once we’re hooked, we’ll habitually return for everything else their advertisers want us to want.

Here’s the ultimate hypocrisy: the creators of the devices don’t give them to their kids, while spending billions on advertising to insist that you should.

Here’s why your child doesn’t need more screen time for Christmas: screens generally promote everything a parent doesn’t want their kids to become.

  • We want our kids to grow up caring about others. Screens tell them it’s all about them.
  • Instead of fostering creativity, screens foster consumption.
  • Instead of inspiring deep thoughts and unique ideas, screens are a constant distraction, the arch-enemy of deep thought.
  • Instead of improving relationships, screens isolate people, and merely online relationships are one-dimensional and fleeting.

The fact that your child— along with every other child—wants the latest device doesn’t mean you should buy it. Kids need parents who love them enough to not give them what they want, but what is best.

You wouldn’t get your kids the ingredients to make meth would you? Even if they wanted it? Even if everyone else was doing it? Why not? Screens are every bit as addictive.

If you’ve already bought your child a screen for Christmas, it’s not too late to take it back or return it to Amazon. You can get them something that helps them become the creative, loving, truly connected, socially confident, and spiritually healthy adults you long for them to be.

(PS: Want to know a secret? This post applies to adults as well.)

Need more convincing? Watch Simon Sinek’s talk about technology’s impact on millennials.

Social Media Is Free, But …

Then we freely give back:

  • Our time
  • Our attention
  • Our ideas
  • Our photos, videos
  • Everything we like
  • A diary of our whole lives
  • Unlimited permission to data mine everything we share
  • Our relationships
  • Our future

And, because we’re all doing this, they play us against each other. We distract each other, while they keep cashing ginormous checks. While billions of us share our lives together on social media, we are the largest free workforce in history.

Of course, the irony is: I have to share this on social media because we’re all there.

Free may not be such a great deal for us after all.