The Real and Visible Dangers of Media Manipulation

Knowledge and Information are power. They give us the tools we can use to dismantle literally any situation that arises to get in our way of accomplishing a goal. Whether you want to fix a broken pipe underneath your sink, obtain a skill that can make you comfortable living, or discover a new form of self-healing therapy that can change your physical and/or mental health, you can accomplish anything you want with a little motivation, information, and application of what you learn. That’s what information is for and it can be used to enhance our lives mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Its no secret that before the mid 2000’s, most Americans received the vast majority of their information via television and radio, with a fairly specific audience relying on print for much of that time as well. While many do recall a time when the news was meant to inform and educate people, its apparent those days are long gone, and have been for quite some time if you really think about it. The interests of the media no longer serves the people, it serves the stockholders and advertisers that have a stake in it as a business. Not that there’s anything wrong with how capitalism plays a part, but as the gap between the classes widens as it has in the past 20 years, its evident there is an agenda being promoted on every channel, network and publication.

If fast-food, auto, and insurance companies are all the advertising you get on a particular tv station, you’re rarely if ever going to see comprehensive coverage of news stories or content in television drama that discusses the corruption and negative effects from the impacts of the actions of companies within these industries. Its extremely important when watching TV or subscribing to online outlets that you look at everything from as objective of a point of view as possible. Of course from what I continually observe regularly, that’s easier said that done for many people.

Its an emotional time for most people, not only in this country but also in many countries around the world as well. The United States isn’t the only country on earth experiencing protests and civil unrest from its citizens. Its apparent that power structures all over the world are experiencing a massive shift and the citizens are reacting, as they should. People should have their voices be heard; even if its not exactly what you want to hear. If someone has malicious intent or animosity towards you or a specific group that you identify with, wouldn’t you like to know? I know I would. Therefore everything happening right now is needed for us to really see things for how they are instead of how we want them to be, like its obviously been for far too long now. Of course one has to wonder, why do these people feel so much hatred and animosity for another group or even individual? Have their lives really been that badly affected by those they harbor ill will towards? Do they really have any reason to believe their livelihoods are at risk and another person or group poses an actual threat to them? Why are they coming to these conclusions? Of course all you do have to find the answer to these questions is take a keen observation to the information they’re taking in and sharing. That’s where we learn the dangers of media manipulation.

As long as social media has been around, its given people the opportunity to express their opinions, tastes, and offered them a means to share their experiences with the outside world. This seemed innocent for the most part, maybe somewhat obnoxious depending on the individual’s habits, but nevertheless didn’t seem to do much harm overall. This was until the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the trial of George Zimmerman the following year and the outcome which led to an outcry from those who felt justice wasn’t served. Although I’m sure there were several instances, where people used social media as a means to publicize injustices and apparent flaws in the system, the specifics surrounding this particular case were so sensitive, it struck a nerve with many people of various backgrounds & perspectives of what was considered right & wrong, given the particular situation. Fast forward to mid 2014 and we have the police shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, along with the Ferguson protests that followed; which unraveled an underlying division in how we as a society view our judicial system. Since then, there have been far too many cases and stories of people who are starting to feel if not had already felt like they’re living in an unfavorable world where their best interests are being overshadowed by interests of a specific populous that doesn’t share their same similarities, ethnically or socioeconomically. Its for this reason, many people have taken to social media to organize and mobilize in order to have their message heard by the masses.

Of course over the span of a couple more years, a highly controversial candidate for President of the United States, campaign and victory, we’re now in a fragile state where lines are being drawn and sides are being taken. With a non-stop barrage of disinformation and mistrust circulating between citizens, media, and government officials, its as if the entire country is walking on egg shells with every story published and every opinion shared online. Its apparent while everyone has a feeling or opinion they feel the need to share, that we still are avoiding where the real problem is; which is the information that is being shared and the perception people are having of such information.

As our attention spans have shortened, people are rapidly losing the ability, if they ever had it to begin with, to look further into a story or news report in order to verify its validity. As a result of the public’s shortened attention span, the media is also failing to provide accurate information if not flat-out creating false narratives themselves in order to expand their reach to as wide of an audience as possible. Not only that, we’ve used social media to further distort the truth by circulating memes as factual without any verification of genuine & authentic sources which continues to confuse if not mislead the unsuspecting masses, particularly the youth. Every other day a new meme is being accepted as truth with no source or responsibility taken by the anonymous party that created it in the first place. Its turned into pandemonium on the internet and nobody seems to be addressing the core of the problem.

Furthermore, fresh media personalities & publications have been coming of the woodworks to prey upon the public’s fears, prejudices & outright ignorance with their biased stance on every controversial issue getting coverage, through verbal tirades & brigading. With the rise of the ‘alt-right’ & the increasing popularity of public figures like Tomi Lahren & Milo Yiannopoulo as well as others, people are now blindly following the leads of talking heads whose intent seems to be to use divisive rhetoric & propaganda to promote an allegiance to questionable agendas. Its bad enough when an uninformed mass populous does little to expand the range of the sources for which they receive their daily dose of current events. Its even worse when the information is presented with persuasive commentary from a highly biased point of view thus provoking the audience, not allowing them to form a well rounded opinion on their own. Not only that, but we now have anyone who disagrees with a story screaming “fake news” or “alternative facts” based simply on their own personal feelings. We’ve turned opinions into facts and disregarded the importance of having opposing views taken into consideration to grasp a more balanced perspective on any issue brought to our attention.

The evidence of how this manipulation is affecting the general public is present all over social media. With every video published and shared are thousands of comments that are dripping with disdain, resentment, fear, animosity, aggression & even utter hatred. I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact people have no restraint in spreading their toxic energy online, or knowing there’s so many people out there who feel this way, yet only feel inclined to say such things on social media, while hiding their true feelings & possibly putting up a polite front in person. Of course its understandable that people are emotional. Its a fragile time, as I stated earlier. However, I beg to ask the question, why are they so emotional? Is it because their lives are directly being affect negatively due to the circumstances around them? Or are they being influenced in a way that is causing this aggression and anger? One has to look deeper into the cause for such upheaval and whether or not its warranted.

In a rapidly changing society, there is nothing more powerful than information. As connected as we’ve all become worldwide, its important to understand who one another really is and why one another has the feelings they do. I do believe there is much to learn from keeping the lines of communication open and interacting with one another regularly to discuss the important issues that have a direct or even indirect effect on our every day lives. Whether we agree or disagree, there’s no reason we can’t engage in discussion in a civil manner. However, in order to do so we have to see things clearly and not let our heads get filled with shortsighted, divisive rhetoric. We have to see the issues for what they really are and not what some arrogant journalist or television show host says they are. Just because these people are on TV doesn’t mean they know everything; so don’t treat them like they do. They do not deserve your praise; your viewership is what pays their salary so as much power as we the people give them, we can just as easily take it away. Don’t fall victim to manipulation and let it come between you and those you love or those you have yet to even know. It will do nothing but cause the downfall of us all as human beings and as a society.

Is the War Between the “Left” and “Right” Destroying America?

Its such a fragile time right now in the United States of America. It seems no matter where you go, online or offline you can’t avoid political disagreements, controversial issues being addressed, and offense being directed to and taken from every direction. Its like swimming in a sea riddled with sharks, jellyfish, and electric eels trying to avoid your deadly demise at every turn. To be honest, I think there’s a strong majority that are just angry and want to find any reason they can to pick a fight and let out all their pent up aggression. Its disheartening to say the last and it seems to be only getting worse day by day.

For the past several months there have been protests in various cites for the protection of human rights yet some question the legitimacy of the cause for such uproar. As the political climate shifted and the country swore in a new president, tensions rose even higher and the “racial divide” depended. If you ask citizens of varying ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds their take on what’s occurring you’ll get responses from complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Our personal differences have created a division amongst us unlike most of the youth in this country have ever seen in their lifetime. Now more than ever there are continuos discussions of racism and injustice as well as whether there needs to be a deeper look into the treatment of minorities.

Just a little over a week ago, with the swearing in of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, it can’t be denied that its the dawn of a new era in “the greatest country in the world.” However, with the changing of the tides came a resistance that even surprised me as the following day we saw the largest nationwide protest in American history whereas an estimated 2.6-4.5 million marchers from all 50 states and 32 countries peacefully gathered in defiance of bigotry, hatred, and inequality. Though it was originally orchestrated as a march for women’s rights, it turned into a unified outcry against backward ideologies and archaic, authoritative systematic thinking. Even though much of the protesting seemed to not have an outlined goal in mind, which is why the conservative “right” was resistant to receiving its message, the freedom for people to voice their grievances is a constitutional right that makes this country so great; which in itself should be respected from all sides if you consider yourself a “proud American.”

With so many people voicing their feelings both online and offline, I feel it remains most important to try to develop a well rounded perspective on the issues at hand. Its for that reason I’ve spent a countless amount of time, thumbing through articles & social media posts to gain a better understanding of the general mindset of much of the American public as well as how others around the globe are seeing what’s occurring here. As I scroll through online posts from various “right” & “left” media personalities & publications, I feel its just as important to take a deeper look into how people react to the information being taken in as well as how they react to one another. What this has allowed me to realize about the state of this great nation is alarming to say the least.

Through the tools technology has given us, we’re connected now more than ever, and have the opportunity to observe what others are thinking and feeling at any given moment that they choose to share publicly. While many, myself included, believe this is one of the greatest blessings we’ve ever been bestowed, its come with plenty of drawbacks. In such times as these, its given a whole new meaning to the phrase, “people suck.” Because the reality of it is, people aren’t always happy and endearing to one another. In the case of politics, it rarely turns out to be a pretty picture. Its for this reason, people try to avoid the subject altogether as much as they can. However, with so much going on at such a rapid rate, there’s no hiding from the issues at hand as they affect all of us in various ways. Its clear just as much now as its ever been how fast lines can be drawn in the sand that force us to divide ourselves and choose a side to feel less alone in such trying times. And while deep down, I know people don’t really hate each other as much as is perceived on social media, its still difficult not to be angered when you engage in a discussion about a controversial topic and someone loses their cool. People really can be ugly when triggered and this is the ugliest I’ve ever seen them; then again, I didn’t live through the civil rights movement in the 60’s. That being said, I can only imagine what it must have been like as it seems the “racial divide” in this country has gone from being a nightmare of the past, to showing full-frontal glimpses of itself in the reality of the present.

What’s become bothersome to me more than the actions of the newly elected President, which are more confusing than they are anything else for someone like myself, are how we as citizens are treating each other in response to all of it. Every day, I witness more hateful, divisive, and prejudicial rhetoric being passed around online. As the “left” voices their frustrations for what’s happening in the streets, the “right” responds with intolerance, shaming, chastising, and patronizing of them as a whole. I’ve seen countless conversations whereas someone tries to speak their mind on an issue peacefully & the typical response in many cases from many right-wing conservatives is to call them “insane,” “libtards,” “snowflakes,” with “no brain.” It’s ironic how the “right” claims the left are a buncha “crybabies” that get triggered too easily, yet try to call them out on their callousness & their responses are down right vile & appalling. As conservatives bask in their recent “victory” with the election of DJT and a majority Republican congress, many of them continue to show their ignorance through arrogance, intimidation, and bullying of their perceived opposition. Of course the “left” can be just as distasteful in their behavior, at times countering with smugness and condescension attempting to belittle the other side by drawing attention to their own intellectualism and elitism, while picking & choosing what injustices they care to address that fit their own agenda. Its a continuous tug of war and while right wing conservatives claim they are “winning,” I can’t help but feel like we’re all losing at the moment as the hostility on both sides seems to be getting more and more out of hand w/every passing day.

While its understandable why people are frustrated and fed up for various reasons, the knee-jerk reactions that most are having to everything they read or hear about is doing anything but help the situation. In regards to many of the issues at hand, most people are choosing to only focus on how its affected them personally with zero consideration of how it may be affecting others. This is what I feel is really causing much of the tension between people in this volatile time we’re living in. People are only thinking of themselves and are finding it difficult to see all sides to a situation. Truth be told, when you really think about it, its this one-sided perspective many have that caused most of the issues our country is facing right now. Therefore this all really a reckoning for some and an awaking for others. Instead of only thinking about your pocket-book or the effects this has on your social life, try and walking in the shoes of someone who wasn’t born with the same privileges as you and maybe find a compromised medium between one another to create solutions instead of more problems. Think about your reactions first, how are they going to help? What good will come of it for you and for them? Think about the energy you put out there before resorting to pride and ego. I promise it will help more than hurt & we definitely could use more helping & less hurting at the moment.
Disillusion is a funny thing. It hurts when you come to realize something you once thought was true really isn’t. Its like when you’re thrusted into the world for the first time on your own, then come to realize how hard it really is just to survive when you don’t have “a leg to stand on” or “a pot to piss in.” Of course that’s what makes progress… Struggle; which is what we as a whole are enduring right now. Its a struggle through pain, frustration, and turmoil in order to redefine and reconnect with our humanity. The process however, isn’t as heart-warming and soothing as it is in the movies. We forget when watching a movie that we’re only seeing the brief summation of a story in the span of 2 hours and not taking into consideration how the day to day struggle must feel when a character is striving to find that inner strength for months or even years. Every day we live in this is another day we experience growth which hurts; there’s no doubt about that.

Complete change doesn’t happen in a single day. It takes time, effort and patience. But while you can’t change the world in a day, you can change yourself in a moment. Even if its just a small tweak to your demeanor, attitude, and mindset. Its not about being “positive” or “negative;” Its about learning to use both equally to help make your situation better and by doing so possibly sharing that energy and motivation in order to give someone else the tools to better theirs. This may very well be the most important time in all of our lives, and the only way to continue living without the pain & suffering of the past, is by learning from our mistakes & moving forward… Together. If this really is supposed to be “the greatest country in the world,” then we have to put true meaning in the word “United” because as of recently, unity has been in dire straits for far too long.

The Destructive Power of Our Own Ignorance.

Regardless of your age, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background there’s one inescapable reality that I do believe the vast majority of us are now realizing and coming to terms with, and that is the world is changing in ways modern man has never seen before. Now granted, the past 100 years have seen advancements in technology that helped pave the way to where we are, but with arrival of high-speed internet, portable wifi, and the evolution of the smart device, we’re now embarking on uncharted territory as a society.

We are undoubtedly living in the age of information and connection. There’s few questions one can ask that can’t be answered with a few swift clicks & a few minutes to spare. If you wish to share what new information you find with your closest friends or relatives, a group text or social media post to hundreds if not thousands will do just that in seconds. Every day we’re offered the opportunity to open discussions with friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers alike on virtually any issue we deem necessary. No longer are we limited to only learning bout what’s broadcasted by the mainstream media through our television sets & more and more people every day are learning to find their own alternative means of information and data discovery. Of course there’s also another side to this issue that seems to be growing into more of a problem every single day as well.

Because of how public school & traditional media have conditioned the masses of our society for so long, its become evident that there’s an overwhelming portion of the U.S & global populous that haven’t developed the critical thinking skills necessary to identify the difference between what’s fiction and what’s reality. Over time as ideals, values, and prejudices have been passed down from generation to generation, many people have allowed conflicts of personal interest to distort their ability to observe from an unbiased perspective. We tend to believe if a scholar, public figure or well respected professional makes a public statement, that it must be true or have some validity. We’ve taken the opinions of friends and family and turned them into convenient truths that serve as substitutions for well documented research, verified factual evidence, and credible testimonials that make a logical case for or against a specific argument.

In an age where so much information is being shared at such an astounding rate, its easy to be misled into believing a story that strikes at the core of your nerve. The problem is how many people are believing everything that is shared online or publicized by the mainstream media. Most if not all of what is being shared via mainstream media outlets is biased and the rhetoric is scripted. People aren’t getting the full story in many cases and are developing short-sighted opinions based on half-cocked truths. With all the controversy surrounding ‘race-relations’ in the United States and the outcome of the recent Presidential election it seems now more than ever, that the masses are being manipulated on a massive scale.

Of course the manipulation of the general public by the media is nothing new. The press has been used to push propaganda to promote various agendas set forth by the establishment such as war, the vilification of minorities, as well as demonize natural medicine & the beneficial uses of cannabis since the foundation of our society. As the years passed by and technology advanced further, the military & prison industrial complexes grew stronger and used every resource available to promote fear in order to keep the general public misinformed and disempowered so they’d rely on solutions only offered by the state instead of ones cultivated by their own methods of investigation and problem solving.

We allow public officials to pass laws that violate our civil liberties and lobby with corporate conglomerates to make backroom deals that destroy the fabric of the American dream while arguing over meaningless quarrels stemming from bipartisanship. We allow major food companies to infect us and our children with dangerous ingredients in GMO’s without batting an eyelash or knowing the long-term consequences of consumption. We watch childhood obesity, Type-2 diabetes & the onset of autism in children soar to unfathomable heights without opening a discussion for the causes and how to reverse the alarming trend. We continue to allow pharmaceutical & insurance companies to make billions off our pain & suffering without instilling a manageable and reasonable health care system. We sit back and watch as the public education system fails the youth more and more every year setting them up for disappointment and unpreparedness in the real world then blame the children for their inability to take on the typical responsibilities of every day adulthood. We send children off to college with no plan or real understanding of what their education is for meanwhile forcing them into a lifetime of un-payable debt from rising tuition costs. We continue on as if nothing is wrong and convince ourselves it’ll get better if we just hope and pray and complain on social media as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We do all this and not once point the finger back at ourselves.

This is how we’ve slowly but surely managed to destroy what was once supposedly the foundation for the way of life in “The greatest country in the world.” We bicker, we fight, we watch reality TV and obsess over celebrity culture while feeding our insatiable urge for consumerism by spending ridiculous amounts of money on brand names to make ourselves feel more desirable and less insecure about our own inadequacies. We don’t listen, we don’t talk to one another humanely and empathetically, we don’t take responsibility for our own actions and we sure as hell aren’t learning as this cycle has continued now for decades.

This my friends is exactly how we got to where we are today. The only way out is by changing the focus of the collective consciousness towards a more empowered and communal oriented way of thinking. We can share ideas, promote each other’s projects, art, and businesses. We can build from the ground up, connect and mobilize using various social media platforms and apps, we can go anywhere we want if we so desire. We just have to stop with how we’re behaving right now. Sure some may resist, many will be doubtful and pessimistic, but even with a few innovative and creative individuals organizing to achieve smaller goals, in time withe enough work we can change the course of tomorrow. Remember its not the environment around you that creates you; its you that creates the environment around you. It all starts somewhere. There’s no reason why it can’t start now, with you.

Why Can’t We See Things For What They Really Are?

The power of illusion has one of the of the strongest effects possible on the human psyche. It affects people in so many different ways, leading to behavior that can’t be considered normal by anyone’s definition simply because there’s some things that just cause a specific type of reaction. We’re human. Emotion is part of our psychological construct that we simply cannot avoid nor ignore. When someone feels belittled, neglected, disempowered, or oppressed they react. Sometimes the reaction is minimal, sometimes its extreme, but either way there’s always a reason for someone’s emotional reaction, even if its layered deeply within the root of their personal history or past experiences.

As a society, we tend to accept, adopt, or reject certain ideals or behavior based on what we’ve been taught or conditioned to believe is “appropriate” or justifiable. Its unfortunate however, that we often tend to deny who we are as individuals in order to gratify societal expectations. Its this idea that in order for us to “fit in” or conform to the norm, we have to let go of the most unique and challenging aspects of our own character for the sake of others’ approval. I’m not sure how this ideology came to be but I do know ever since I was a child, I knew it wasn’t something I was ever going to abide by. I just didn’t see the world as my parents, teachers, or even friends did. I knew there had to be more to it than what was in front of me. The older I got, the more I realized my feelings were for a reason and my intuition served me well as I discovered who I was amidst a world of conformity and compromise.

Each of us sees the world under a slightly different light depending on the experiences we’ve had and the information we’ve gathered over the course of time. Some routes we take are dictated & influenced by those closest to us. Some routes we take out of fear, disassociation, adoration, passion, or confusion. Regardless of the direction you’ve chosen to take throughout the course of your life, it plays a strong role in how you see the world; there’s no denying that. Much of who we really are is hidden beneath a layer of belief systems, preconceived notions of reality, and a misguided naivety of a world we hope will exist one day but currently doesn’t.

The is no limit to the amount or type of illusions we create throughout life of the world around us as well as the people in it. Often, we see things for how we want them to be without question or curiosity. Its comfortable to accept what we disapprove of that way. We watch television, go to the movies, have conversations with loved ones, and listen to certain and limited types of music then convince ourselves that’s reality. We don’t even think about the ugly, dark, and twisted aspects of life that we turn a blind to or even acknowledge their existence. We tell ourselves, “If I didn’t see it, it must not be real or didn’t happen.” Then we actively deny our own denial, thus creating a cycle that repeats all around us before we pass it down the generations that follow. That’s how things have become the way they are. Through illusion and imagination, we’ve created a world that only exists when we turn on the television or radio/smart device without ever really experiencing we perceive to be real. Its this habit of falsified perception that has finally reached its breaking point.

Deepening on what era and what part of the world you were brought up in, your idea of “the perfect world” carries a different sentiment with it. Regardless of the differentiations that separate our unique perspectives there is a foundation of humanity at the core of most of them. Those who are disconnected from that suffer from variations of mental and psychological conditions that stem from other situational circumstances; therefore they’re an irregularity. What that means is, in the context of human nature, we can generally agree on what is “right” and “wrong” for human behavior. Because of cultures and traditions that vary in other parts of the world however, this discussion can turn fairly complicated pretty quickly, so we have to look at basic premises for what we condone as a whole. This is where free-will pops up as the centerpiece for the entire conversation. Because even though we all lead different lives and share different belief systems, free-will is something that should be protected in any shape, way, or form. This is why we believe we have laws and government to begin with; to protect us to a certain extent from having our free-will stripped away or imposed upon by another. Because the primal self is void of logic and reason, people need negative reinforcement such as punishment to help prevent them from doing harm to others for whatever reason. Though we tend to think every human being is of average intelligence and raised with morals and values, history has proven otherwise in more detailed accounts that can even be studied within a single lifetime. Its our unawareness of those accounts, both past and present, that are a huge part in the causes of many of our problems today that we’ve faced for longer than our society cares to admit. Its also that in itself that just amplifies in its continued effects on all of us individually as well as a whole.

As technology has continued to advance over the course of recent years, so has many people’s awareness and understanding of how the world works. No longer is our information limited or our voices unheard. Through the power of the internet and social media, we can now share ideas and information within seconds and can also see how that information affects others both connected to us and connected through the platforms where posts originate. This has created a common bond with those who share our feelings of hope and possibility, but has also created tension and division between those of us who disagree on virtually any and every issue that poses personal importance. Look no further than the charades of the 2016 United States’ Presidential Election and the events that have soon followed for evidence of these occurrences. All of it is history being created right in front of our eyes and we’re all affected by it in various ways. That seems to be what we’ve all lost sight of, how its affected all of us.

Whether we want to admit it or not, social media is now an integral part of many of our every day lives. Whether you log on and post every day, a couple times a week, or even only briefly to pass the time in a moment of boredom, its always going to be there from now on. People share their every day experiences, opinions, and feelings on social media. If there happens to be an issue being discussed by mass collections of people, there’s a chance you’ll encounter an opinion or perspective you disagree with, get offended by, or become infuriated as a result of and that in itself will affect you in some way even after you’ve logged off and gone about your day. Reading a post on social media is no different than if someone said something out loud for you to hear or to you personally that carries a feeling you take with you after the exchange has ceased. In many cases it has more of an effect on us because sometimes the context in which the comments are made isn’t something we’re familiar with, so we re-interpret it to mean something else which also creates conflicts with one another. These conflicts affect our emotional states and the energy we exude as a result of it recycles throughout our external environment continuing to shift the dynamic of the world around us. Thats why its important to acknowledge how and why people feel as they do, if we want to maintain healthy relationships with each other. It helps us relate, to maintain a sense of empathy so we know when we are or aren’t hurting someone directly or indirectly. If we understood this, we could better gauge how we conduct ourselves when discussing pressing issues that matter to each of us.

We need to talk about issues that affect us on the deepest levels. Much of the problems we have today aren’t resolved because we don’t discuss them; we avoid and ignore them in every way we can. We don’t want to talk about them because we know there’s a level of emotion from every human being we have to deal with in doing so and we’ve become scared of that. We’ve done our best to suppress emotions because for some strange reason, we feel they aren’t normal. Well, in regards to human life and all the environmental factors that affect it, emotion comes with the territory so we can no longer pretend its acceptable to not care about clean air, water, injustice, systematic racism and bigotry, social reform, or disenfranchisement. These are issues because we’re still pretending they’re not and demonizing those who try to discuss them in order to find resolutions to them. If we cared and listened, maybe we’d be able to fix them ourselves instead of relying on the word of elected officials to execute misappropriated plans that are more like putting a bandaid on broken arm. Thats why information, engagement and awareness are so important in this day in age. If you really think about it, that’s all we have so we should use it to serve our best interest as a collective, not leaving out anyone in the process while trying to better this world we all live in.

The power of illusion is strong because its a fictitious construct of our consciousness that stems from origins we’re likely are unaware of. That’s how its allowed to exist in the first place; because of unawareness and ignorance. That’s how this world came to be where it is, because there’s still so much to the reality of our own existence that is still unexplored by the mass collective of mankind. We’ve allowed society to dictate where we can go and what we can do in more ways that one. That’s what’s prevented so many from seeing everything happening around them for so long. Luckily for us, there’s plenty of ways to break through those barriers that we can find in a single moment of empowerment, that helps us literally create the world we live in now, and the world we could be living in tomorrow.

How Did We End Up Living in a World of Labels?

Black, white, straight, gay, vegan, conservative, christian, muslim, liberal, hippie, leftist… These labels we’ve created for ourselves never seem to end. Often, I sit and wonder how the hell did this world become the way it is. It may be the one single question I’ve asked myself the most, through every waking moment of my young adult life.

As kids we’re encouraged to dream. Well… We can be, depending on the family and circumstances you were raised in. Some people just learn to survive their entire life and that in itself was the dream. But someone like myself, who has been a “dreamer” since my first conscious memory, that was what I did any time I was out in the world. I wondered.

I wondered about what was out there beyond my neighborhood and town. I wondered about all the beautiful people out there that I knew I’d one day connect to. It could’ve been the fantastic imagination I was blessed/cursed with or the cartoons, comic books & movies that caused such grandiose visions of life as my own person. Either way, nothing except life itself could’ve shown me the world I would live in that looked nothing like the one in my own head. Its funny how that works.

Growing up isn’t easy for anyone. At least that’s what we’re told. Meanwhile, through the process of government funded public education and corporate media sponsored socialization we develop these identities of ourselves that help us understand who and why we are the way we are. In some cases, it works out and people develop an identity complete with defined sexuality, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and sociopolitical understanding. Sometimes its like we were given the wrong directions and ended up in a strange place that looks nothing like our described destination.

This society we were all molded and shaped by is quite the conundrum. Now, more than ever, more people are asking questions as to whether or not the way its been shaped is right for everybody. For the first time ever we have the opportunity to see into the minds and lives of every functioning human being with an electronic smart device and/or personal computer using these various mediums to share and connect. Now that its been years that every social media platform has been part of our lives we’ve grown comfortable enough to post anything we want about ourselves with no regard as to who sees it or how it may affect them. Its for that same reason that we now realize, we may not want to connect with any and every person in the world because we’ve also come to realize they aren’t anything like ourselves.

How you were raised shapes a strong majority of who you are. Whether you chose to follow in the same path as your parents and extended family, go completely against the grain of those around you, or disconnect altogether from your place of origin, it was how you were raised that led to those decisions. Although we all “grow up” in different ways, there are some lives that just don’t change much, and for them everything for the most part feels like it stays the same.

Typically its those who live in the same neighborhoods their entire lives and don’t stray far from their hometown that develop the tightly knit communities many people in middle-America grow up in. And though these places can be humble, seemingly peaceful, endearing, and hospitable, there’s always another side to them that those on the outside don’t see. Its because of this, that people like to keep things controlled to maintain a social order that creates the sense of identity for those who live in the community itself. Its the consensus of those that build that tribal like demeanor and outlook of the world that become the part of the foundation that gives people the chance to create their own little world within a world. The only problem is, its not completely shut off from the bigger world that surrounds it and eventually the outside world will come in and change everything it once was to become everything that now is.

If you grew up in a small town or just a conservative suburb miles outside a major city which you’ve always dreamt of escaping, then you’re familiar with feeling like an outsider. If you’ve ever had the chance to escape to the outside world, you’re familiar with that overwhelming sense that leads to thinking “What the hell did I get myself into?” Its normal; its part of realizing reality is literally the unknown and you’ve finally been given the chance to see what it is for yourself. Spend a little time in the world far removed from the one you’ve said goodbye to and you’re also possibly aware of the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Again, that’s part of realizing how nothing is ever what it seems and the world just isn’t what you think it is.

These worlds I speak of exist because of people. The people who raised us as children, who laughed with us as teenagers, and who helped guide as through adulthood. But there’s also the people who are part of our world that we see but never notice. We cross paths every day and may share a glance at one another from time to time but never connect, unless its one of those random moments of fate and a new world is then created, but that is rare. And even though we don’t realize there’s everyone else to consider while we’re speeding through traffic or mingling in public during happy hour, we typically don’t wonder about what their worlds are like. That is, until the internet and social media came along and changed everything giving us this chance to really connect our worlds and show us things about each other we never imagined we’d see, whether we wanted to or not.

What we see about each other every single day now, tells us more about ourselves than we ever asked for. Though magazines and television had been telling us how we should look and act for years, now its us telling each other. ‘You’re not supposed to eat this,’ ‘you can’t wear that,’ ‘don’t treat your partner like this,’ ‘you must be one of those,’ ‘I hate these people,’ ‘please stop posting this,’ ‘please stop doing that…’ Etc. Etc. Etc. Its like we’re a world gone crazy. Or maybe we’ve just always been crazy and we’re finally seeing it for ourselves and feel the need to warn each other of the perils that dwell within sociological circles and subcultures outside our front doors. This isn’t the world I imagined living in as a child. This isn’t the world I wanted to be in as an adult.

Most days even logging in to a social media app is a Russian roulette of social encounters. Some days you’ll feel blessed to be breathing, some days you’ll be pissed you ever opened your eyes. And why? Because we’re people, and telling other people what to do makes us feel important. With everything occurring in the media right now its like you have no choice but to be careful with what you say or risk being damned to hell by every member of the opposite sex, ethnicity & socio-economic background. Although there has been plenty of good that has come from these vast connections, if not careful while sharing unhinged and controversial feelings, thoughts, and points of view, you’ll end up seeing how many people still don’t want the world the’ve created polluted from unwelcome outside influences. If not careful you’ll end up only seeing the ugly side of people.

Early on I learned how ugly people can be. Not only through personal experience but simply through watching the world. That’s primarily why I’ve never been comfortable with labeling who I am. It allows for too much presumption from somebody who should be willing to learn about me from experience, not description. And though I’ve always intended on doing many things with my life, you telling me who I can or cant be, because your mom and dad told you who you were supposed to be and you listened, isn’t my problem; its yours. If you don’t like it, change it and open your world instead of trying to destroy mine. Because I can tell you this, no matter how hard you try to diminish and change others’ worlds you will fail. Because this world isn’t here for you to change all by yourself. It only does that when you learn to be part of it and change with it. That’s just how it works; whether you see it yet or not. But the day you do see it, prepare yourself, because everything thereafter will be a whole new world within itself, and within you.

Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder why the world is the way it is? Do you ever look up and ask yourself, why can’t some people provide answers for what’s out there while others with the same amount of formal education offer a completely different understanding of questions that have been pondered for millennia? Do you ever see tragedy reported on the news and ask yourself how can people possibly justify these actions? Not only that, how can people be so violently damning of those of us that do sympathize with the victims and the community affected by these actions? With our vast connections to one another and the information circulated between us regularly its nearly impossible not to wonder what the hell is going on in the world.

The thing is, all of us are affected by so much of what we see yet few of us actually take time to process most of it, and even fewer seem to actually comprehend it at all. Let’s just be real here for a moment. We’re living in a time where so many things are unprecedented that we can’t truly understand how we’re supposed to react and in what manner those reactions affect all that is around us. We’ve never been seconds from connecting to thousands of people who share their lives as they do like this before. Everything from the telegram to the first text message may have been steering us in this direction but none of it could’ve actually prepared us for all of this… Could it have? As each day passes it seems like we’re traveling further into uncharted territory in starting to realize things that we simply didn’t have the tools to delve deep into before now.

Again, let’s be real here. There are people who believe the earth is flat, just like there are people who believe Jesus was white, as well as those who believe human beings were the spawn of alien experimentation and also those who believe we evolved from primates. There are people who believe Satan is their savior and there are past civilizations that believed things we don’t even believe are true because we’ve been conditioned by a variety of institutions that are designed to deny without questioning. Its for these reasons so many people can’t seem to make heads or tails of any “conspiracy” brought before them because they lack the ability to use unbiased judgment to cognitively contrive an understanding for something that may not be what they thought it was. Its just the unfortunate world we’ve become accustom to for generations. People believe in different individual truths all over the world; if you call one group “crazy,” then I can promise you that’s because you’ve never really gotten to know any of them to understand their reasons for believing what they do; even if its different than you and your beliefs.

I wonder about people far too much. So much that I ask myself every day, is it possible for people to change? Is it possible for me to change? Why are people wired the way they are? How can there be people that use their platform and influence on millions of other people to solely bash individuals who are simply exercising their god given constitutional right to object to injustice on the platform they were blessed to have? How are there people who can side with this behavior and think its okay? Not only that, but take vigilant rhetoric into their own hands and deflect their inner insecurities, bigotry, and hatred to the world they surround themselves in? How can people not see how big the world really is? It seems to never end; these questions. They seem to haunt me day and night as I encounter personalities that cause me to ponder on man’s true animalistic nature of the beast that dwells within.

Truth be told, countless hours of research, personal experiences, and interactions with so many different perspectives still can’t help offer me simple answers to the questions I’ve been asking myself since I was a child. Although I can tell you this, from what I observe daily, the direction we’re headed may be necessary but its not going to be easy. Matter of fact with everything the media projects into our individual consciousness, we seem to be at war with ourselves as well as each other more and more every single day. What I hope people come to realize is that its okay to let go and move on. But we can’t do that until we face the montage of unresolved conflicts that have been overlooked time and time again throughout the course of history. Its for that reason that I say someone telling an African-American to “get over slavery” is the same as someone telling the parent or even a friend of a sexual assault victim to “get over rape.” If you can’t seem to see how the two connect then it seems to me, that you don’t understand how empathy works.

People tend to forget that history, though long ago, still happened no matter how disconnected you are from it. Those millions of slaves that so many privileged, culturally absent people today try to pretend never existed had children. Those children had their grandchildren, and so on, and so on. Those great, great, great grandchildren are alive and well today. Do some research and study the breadcrumbs that lead back to slavery and you may understand why “these people can’t get over it,” as so many ignorantly state in continued conversations I’ve observed all throughout social media in recent months.

Slavery may have ended 143 years ago but the civil rights movement in America was only 48 years ago. I’ll put it to you like this, African-Americans couldn’t even vote only 4 years prior to my mother being born, and I’m still considered to be a young man. That should create an idea of how recent, institutionalized racism in this country was actually legal. Not only that but because of this, criminal acts of rape and murder were covered up by law enforcement in many states if not most of them.  Hell, if you look into our dark history as a whole, law enforcement at every level have been both directly and indirectly responsible for prevailing criminality on many occasions so its only “a wonder” that people don’t question authority and law enforcement agencies’ actions more often.  Its for these reasons these atrocities will never fade away. They’re embedded in our history and woven into the DNA of millions of people across this praised nation. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, a large portion of the country would’ve been fine with African Americans never receiving the right to vote. I’m sure a nominal percentage of those people’s grandchildren still feel that way, to this day.

The point I’m trying to make is we live in an extremely unstable world full of misunderstandings and misguided pain. We have been for as long as recent history can even document. There are unknown realities, conspiracies, unrealized truths, evils, and orchestrated chaos that exist and have existed for reasons so many of us may never know.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to be so ignorant and un-empathetic to injustice if we really take a brief moment to understand why and how such things that most of us feel shouldn’t happen, do happen. To understand is an agreement you make with yourself to fully grasp the reasons things happen and the reasons people react to them in different ways. While various people’s violent and aggressive behavior both on and offline may be disturbing to witness, it can also serve as a window into each other’s world and help us wonder how we can possibly co-exist knowing the injustices at exist in our shared history in order to progress as a civilization and species before its too late. I just hope it isn’t too late. I honestly don’t think it is. I wonder how many others feel the same.

Have We Been Conditioned to Hate Each Other?

Emotions are such a complex aspect of who we are as human beings. They drive us to do some extraordinary things as well as lead us to quite shameful and regrettable behavior. It really does depend on the circumstance, however there are just some acts of depravity that when we’re exposed to, we can’t help but respond with in the most aggressive and possibly dangerous ways.

Murder, rape, assault, bullying, and sexual manipulation are just a few of the examples that come to mind when I think of behavioral acts that are extremely difficult to respond to without letting emotions influence how I may react towards a situation. Its for these reasons that experience plays a huge part in how we perceive the world around us. To keep it short and simple, there’s just no predicting how you’d react to a particular situation or circumstance until you’ve actually been able to experience it first hand.

You can’t attempt to empathize and relate to a victim of a heinous crime just like you can’t pretend to be inside the head of a soldier in war combat or an officer of the law who’s had to put themselves in more dangerous, possibly life-threatening situations than you could ever imagine. There’s more to being an officer of the law or civil servant than what you see on TV, like the psychological effects of the training, job & differentiating that mindset from that of every day, civilian life.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can’t pretend to know what its like growing up of a different ethnicity, nationality, culture or religion. Therefore, to think you can relate to what its like being raised in that environment with that struggle if you yourself have never experienced anything comparable is ignorant and reckless. We have a huge barrier between the relatability and understanding of one another in the ‘United States of America’ and an extraordinarily un-addressed problem that has led things to get to where they are today.

Beyond that, there is a widespread amount of ignorance of the ramifications of historical impact and how our current system was set up in order to allow for the injustices that continue to occur today. Its quite frightening when you use social media as often as I do and see the overwhelming amount of people who just don’t “get it” or know any better because they’ve never studied in depth or analyzed events in our own history that still have effects on the areas they’ve occurred to this day.

As the first week of July in 2016 comes to an end, there’s definitely no argument that it has been an extremely emotional and tumultuous several days. Regardless of how you feel about what’s happening right now in America, if not all over the world, its highly doubtful you don’t feel strongly about something as that’s part of what makes us human, our feelings.

We have to be aware of those feelings and where they come from. There’s a reason why thousands if not millions of individuals can all watch the same ‘real-life’ video clip of a person having their life taken away and all feel completely different about what they just witnessed, even if it is after the fact and through a camera lens. Whether its how & where they were raised, an experience or experiences they’ve had, or just fears that were implanted in them from various elements with no education on subjects of certain sociological circumstance, there is always an explanation. Even if its suppressed within the layers of the unconscious mind, its still there somewhere to be found.

Racism just like sexism is a programmed state of mind that stems from both taught and learned behavior that has been fine-tuned and redefined over the course of centuries, if not a millennia. The causes of it are far too vast and complicated to dive into in this entry, but maybe in a later entry I can touch on it. Trust me, I’ve spent hours studying the subject and I’m still barely scratching the surface of it. Remember, racism has been taught and practiced in some form in virtually all cultures since before 1000 BC. What we experience today is the result of an endless spiderweb spread all over the planet over the course of numerous civilizations and historical timelines.

Where we get our information is a strong and powerful source that influences us in ways that are hard to comprehend if you’ve never deeply studied psychology and sociology. But, all it takes is common sense to really observe where somebody gets the bulk of the their information. Television is still a dominant force in many people’s lives, although the internet gives us the most resources and outlets to connect us to that information, its still only as powerful as the users who utilize it every day. Unfortunately, America’s education system over the past several decades has left many people virtually illiterate and unable to derive fiction from fantasy which is also exactly what the television has successfully done in the past 60+ years. So, we’ve only been able to really capitalize on uses of the internet for basic, rudimentary daily tasks. Hopefully that will one day change.

For the most part, its the TV that has used entertainment and advertising to push an agenda to dictate social norms and behaviors. Its lead us to trends in fashion and music, and allowed pop culture to rule our every day lives. It also tells us what to care about and who to vote for. So why wouldn’t it also aid into steering how we feel through carefully crafted dialogue and dramatization? The more I study about the television industry and Hollywood the more I can assure you, we wouldn’t know what was real or fake if we spent years researching it at the most prestigious institutions on earth. There’s just so much that has never been shared with the public or even published to really be certain of what to believe when regards to how we’ve been manipulated by the magic of media. But one again, that issue will also have to be addressed in a later entry. What I can say is I don’t watch it because I don’t trust it, but I do see how strongly it affects those around me, which from my observation hasn’t been in a very conducive or positive light.

I didn’t write this editorial to convince you of anything or influence how you feel about a particular issue. I’m simply viewing the world around me, paying close attention to the events that people seem to be focused on, and sharing what I’ve learned in my time doing endless research in order to understand why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do.

I can tell you that fear plays the biggest role in behavioral construction. Humans have behaved in such ways over time to make them fear everything about the outside world, especially the westernized culture over the past 100 years. When people make an assessment or judgment on an individual they’ve just seen reported on the media from a few sentences printed and a couple badly commentated photos, they’re doing so out of a preconceived disposition that comes from either emotion or logic. Someone’s emotional history and experiences will heavily influence how deep they go into their contrived assumption. That’s what I see happening, especially on social media, every single day. We’re painting pictures in our head and creating narratives with little or nor information or factual evidence with corresponding detail, which is actively conditioning us while we influence one another.

This is a huge problem occurring right now on a scale of epidemic proportions. I see it grow more and more every day especially with the youth being so malleable and impressionable as they are. If we don’t start re-thinking how we discuss and address issues, we’ll create illusive dangers in every socio-cultural category, creating a world that isn’t safe for anyone. I hope it never get to that, but hope only goes so far without awareness and action. Its those actions you have control over every single day in every situation you’re in. So use that beautiful mind of yours… And don’t let it go to waste.