Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The media are the virus in our society

Early June 2022, I published my blog Media = virus, which was still mostly about Covid-19. For two years, the media played played a very divisive role in society. Governments adopting a macro view were criticized (eg, Sweden). Every government attempt to moderate restrictions was ridiculed.

Cartoon by Garrick Tremain (eg, source)

The media has learned from this but not in a good way. Today, every single divisive issue in our society is used – and abused – to increase media attention (eg, The Times on transgender issues). I’ve paraphrased its business model as click-bait-fight. The only issue left is government regulation.

More and more, I’m reading user comments highlighting and ridiculing the media’s divisive role. Obviously, such comments are (very) welcome as the media can then claim not having any bias.

In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945), Karl Popper (1902-1994) had expected this:

“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. […] We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” (source)

This quote clarifies why Karl Popper is considered “[o]ne of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers of science []”. Please take a look at this 1974 interview (in German with English subtitles).

The above raises the question whether – or not – we should regulate the media to restrict its divisiveness. Such a question lies at the heart of our left-liberal societies. Less liberal societies have already regulated their media (eg, Hungary, Poland). Unlike viruses, the media can be regulated.

Clearly, regulating the media will create state propaganda machinery. Hence, the cure appears to be even worse than the disease. Is there a solution? Perhaps.

In 1973, Richard Serra (b.1938) stated the following in the short video Television Delivers People: “You are the product of t.v.” [] “you are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer. He consumes you”. Today, this is shortened to: “if something is free, you’re the product” (Tech HQ).

Hence, the solution might be simple: a legal requirement for monthly payments for any media subscription. Obviously, this might decimate “free” social media companies, like Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006). This may, however, also affect products like Gmail (2004) and perhaps even Google (1998).

Such a development might trigger another development: selling your privacy (eg, personal data) and earning a monthly revenue, while formally having a paid subscription.

p:Machinery (1985) by Propaganda
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Another hope feeds another dream
Another truth installed by the machine
A secret wish, the marrying of lies
Today you find is true what common sense denies

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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