Illiteracy of the Unknown

Illiteracy of the Unknown

Our Society Has Forgotten How To Recognize What It Doesn't Know It Doesn't Know
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In the age of fake news and alternative facts, it is easy to brand others as ignorant and stupid for holding beliefs based on asininity and irrationality. However, the absence and lacking of knowledge is not fairly portrayed by the definition of "ignore-ance" alone, the ignoring of information and data. Nor does stupidity adequately convey the problems of our societies grasp on personal expanses of knowledge.

Illiteracy is left as the only competent word to describe the problem of our society in terms of a lacking of knowledge. This is not to be mistaken and as any form of insult, given illiteracy is something we are all born with and we must all constantly work to dissolve and reverse. But the weight of ideas in the merit of their value cannot be associated with the individual producing the ideas. Not to state the origin thought process of the idea is to be removed from the usage, rather placing the legitimacy of the idea as it.

The point of recognizing illiteracy is not a means of insulting or branding with some derogatory term; it is simply the recognition of the limitations of our own knowledge. The egos of many resist recognizing this fact, and assert their opinions and commentary statements as if they have equal weight of those who contains knowledge and a level of literacy over topics at hand. Not to be mistaken with the disregarding of opinions, it must simply be recognize that the inherent right an individual has for asserting their opinion does not mean that the opinion itself as a philosophical idea that has weight in and of itself. Literacy builds the strength of ideas and the complexity of thought in which ideas form and procreate.

Self initiation of learning is the only way illiteracy can be reversed and prevented. We all must recognize when we are limited by our own thought and knowledge. We must humble ourselves to learning more about the world; to gain the complexity and the wide perspectives required to accurately and confidently deal with the situations we face in daily life, and within the greater sphere of human society and civilization.

Cover Image Credit: Sk1zzo - DeviantArt

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Selling War

A Look at Noam Chomsky's Book, Media Control, and the Marketing of War
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Throughout these tumultuous times, the integrity and work of the media has come into question for how certain news values are treated. However, the media have a right to be questioned because of just how they operate and what they show us. Despite this, one man has continued to question the media in the way that all news consumers should is Noam Chomsky.

Once in my life someone told me, “Be conscious of what the news is telling you but be mindful of what they aren’t telling you”. Chomsky is known for being a public intellect and for much of the media criticism he doles out. Rather than focus on how the media can be considered false or just down right wrong, he considers just how the media constructs their content. One book in particular where he gets at this perception of the media is Media Control.

This book in particular talks about the use of propaganda and how certain events have been manipulated in the favor of others. Media Control really delves into the use of the coverage of the War on Terror as a means of making people want it more. Chomsky also gets at a history of propaganda and just what its meant to want war.

In the first part of this book he focuses on how the idea of propaganda has been fueled for years since the Woodrow Wilson Administration and has riled up America to monger war. Politicians do that when they run for office. They talk about how people are attempting to take jobs away from Americans while at the same time they talk about taking back the country. It fuels fear and makes people anxious about the person living next door. This ideal has led to the rise of American Nationalists hell bent on changing the demographic of the country. In reality this, is an excuse for racist behavior.

Chomsky’s book touches on just how media has managed to change the way people think of the country but also how they are influenced based on fear. Political advertisements are common in this way because of how they sway a person to vote in that candidates favor with the way that they control fear.

Fear mongering has given rise to the idea of one culture in America, which has been demonstrated primarily through the concept of “the melting pot”. Unilateralism is a particular phenomenon that America has grappled onto, though, we promote and pride ourselves on our foundations in multiculturalism. The “American” culture is a myth that has been prostituted to bring out the inner patriot in people.

As a culture, America, is an assimilation of customs, beliefs, worldviews, ideas and specialties that have been increasingly been adapted into what is the American culture. Media throughout time have come to show that America is a melting pot, and that all the incoming cultures have been melted down to create on unifying cultural system. Other points that Chomsky make are about how the spread of “Vietnam Syndrome” and how this shows the marketing of war. In this case, as in several others, selling a war was difficult because it can be difficult to market against people’s interest.

Physical wars are hard to market to the public without using a tragedy that has affected the American people. One major case of this is the war on terror that Chomsky describes in his Martian portion of the book. The war on terror was more of a social issues war because people genuinely want to feel safe. however, the war wasn’t officially redeclared until the events of September 11th, 2001. This was a national tragedy that got people going and really made them feel there was a reason to fight.

Social issues such as gun safety, and drugs have become easier to sell since people witness and are given visuals of what these crises do to people. In the case of guns, mass shootings such as the recent school shooting in Florida, and those of Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc. have influenced the national conversation all around to have people saying that guns need regulations. Chomsky’s work demonstrates the way wars are influenced not only by propaganda but by the way people’s attention is brought to the war.

Chomsky’s book also brings an interesting section of the book using a Martian as a journalist is strange in how it demonstrates the difference an objective perspective can bring to media, but also discusses several points of the war on terror. One interesting point that Chomsky makes in this section is when he discusses the use of the definition of terrorism. His arguments for not using the definition in army training manuals are right in that it doesn’t define what is labeled terrorism.

His point seems to really get across the idea of how language is manipulated or altered to fit what the public should see rather than what they need to know. This reminded me of the way the word “literally” has been twisted out of its original meaning and instead has come to mean how people come to define hyperboles.

Another quirk about this section of the book is the use of the Martian as a journalist. In doing this, Chomsky uses a term that really sells the point of the Martian’s writing to the press on Mars. He says, “All of this is headline news in the Martian press-along, of course, with what it all means to the civilian population”. When Chomsky uses the term headline news, it really describes or seems to talk about how the headline is what sells the news instead of the actual article or piece.

As the attention span has decreased, headlines have become the dominant means by which people decide whether something is worth reading. Last semester, I got theatre students mad at me because of a review I did of a play performed at Buffalo State College. The play was a compilation of one act plays written by Christopher Durang, and called Deranged Durang. My headline for the review was, “Review: Casting Hall’s Deranged Durang is Deranged Mess” and my review was critical of the material instead of the actor’s performance, though that was a small part of the piece.

Several students posted on Twitter about facts that weren’t part of the article, which led me to realize that no one actually took the time to read the review but instead saw the headline and formed an angry opinion. Headlines have become an entire opinion instead of an article being read and understood.

The Martian’s news is just that, news. He is going away from the many conventional ideals that are used in Earth media, though, like many journalists, he will attempt to be unbiased, which is difficult since all journalists are pitching an angle or specific side of the story they are doing. Coverage of the War on Terror may not have been based on facts but they were based on what was perceived as a fact, another point that Chomsky reminds me of.

Certain facts were never questioned about the war but were indeed repeated. In writing about how to change the way the media operates, Chomsky really alters the perception of just how we cover certain events in time.

Cover Image Credit: Edwin J. Viera

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We Need To Make A Change

Every day that we wait is another day that we are failing every single victim.
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"Everyone wants their kid to grow up and go to Harvard or be a
quarterback for the Patriots. No one ever looks at their baby and thinks, Oh, I hope my kid grows up
and becomes a freak. I hope he gets to school every day and prays he won’t catch anyone’s
attention. But you know what? Kids grow up like that every single day."


- Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

I think we'll all agree that school shootings are horrendous and abysmal acts and we need to start finding a solution this scourge. Too many lives have been lost, too many families have been destroyed, and too many children now live in fear that they could be the next victims. My heart breaks for every single person who has been affected by these tragedies. I cannot even begin to fathom the pain they feel and will continue to feel for years to come; I have the deepest empathy for them.

And yet, I can't help but empathize with the other side of this equation too. I understand the emotions that these shooters feel. The anger, the isolation, the incessant bullying, and wanting revenge. These are all similar emotions that I faced from my time in middle and high school. I went to school every day hating most of the people I walked past because they made me feel inferior, weak, and vulnerable. I experienced some form of bullying nearly every day, and it tore me up inside. I wanted nothing more than to fight back and make everyone pay for messing with me.

I may have a lot of anger boiling inside me, but I've never lashed out, and that's because I am not a violent person and I mostly refuse to take the "low road" that bullies do. I never had access to a firearm and I never wanted to. I also have my parents to thank for instilling such a high sense of morality in me from a young age. However, this is something that the Parkland shooter never had. He didn't have parental stability, and without that little angel sitting on his shoulder to tell him "No, don't do this", he had nothing to hold himself back.

DO NOT get it twisted, I AM NOT in any way, shape, or form saying he is not responsible for his actions. He committed cold-blooded murder and should be prosecuted accordingly to the highest extent of the law. But, I will not apologize for saying that I feel some empathy for him. His actions are his own, but he was failed by society and he was failed by the systems we have in place.

Solving the epidemic of school shootings in this country is going to be a very intricate and drawn-out process with numerous conflicting variables. We have to change the culture of bullying in our schools, we have to start implementing commonsense gun control laws (please note that I did not say ban), increase the number of counselors and psychologists in schools, and we need to reach out and connect with these "at-risk" kids and make sure they feel like they belong and are safe in this society. None of this can happen overnight, but it needs to start happening soon. Otherwise, there will only be more innocent lives lost, there will only be more pain, and there will only be more people like Cruz, who find themselves angry and armed and wanting revenge.

As someone who promotes discussion and increasing mental health resources, I would love to see the overall culture in this country change. We are all so quick to jump to violence and negative emotions when things go bad. We need to turn our focus back to creating dialogue to solve problems instead of reaching for our weapons to fight our way out. We don't use our voices enough, and we need to teach our youth that IT IS okay and safe for them to go to someone and express what they feel without being afraid or ashamed.

We need to make a change. For the sake of the Columbine victims and survivors, for the sake of the Virginia Tech victims and survivors, for the sake of the Sandy Hook victims and survivors, for the sake of the Parkland victims and survivors, for the sake every other person in America who has been impacted by a school shooting, and for the sake of all our future generations. Otherwise, they will have all died in vain and more will continue to die in vain, as we stand by and do nothing and watch the bodies pile up.


WE NEED CHANGE













Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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