This week we’re going to stray away from stories and writing, and more on writing as a tool in society. Already I have touched upon the media’s influence in a previous post (Fake News) and the impact it has on a writer’s credibility, but what about society itself?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been noticing the lack of actual ‘Informative’ News comparative to ‘Popular’ News. Let me define this in a way for everyone to understand. Informative News provides problem, progress or solution, and future. There is a discussion of what, why, when, how, and what it means for society as a whole. Popular News looks to simply spread an idea, and give what is happening right now, without a proper solution. Popular News also tends to be far more extreme than Informative News, which purely rely on facts, as majority of the time they are written with opinions threaded with their words. Most Popular News also tends to be individual stories rather than something that can affect people on a global scale, however, those that do extend themselves to such a reach tend to be countered or partnered by Informative News, just filtered under a different news site as, of course, each business depicts a different perspective.
I see the same stories over and over again about stupid people doing stupid things – for example, the numerous people who decide to climb into a dangerous animal’s zoo enclosure for a selfie – this is Popular News because there is nothing informative about it; news stories like this simply tell us what happened so we can play judge and jury. When these people get attacked, not only do they come out on media platforms for all to see, but majority of the time they play the victim and claim that it was not their fault – I’m sorry, but were you coaxed by the zoo to physically climb over the fence and enter the enclosure at gun point, or did you do that yourself? Take responsibility people, and grow a spine.
One major example of Popular News that’s been going around – although the phase started years ago – is the ‘Momo’ challenges and videos. According to CNet, ‘Momo’ was originally a Japanese work of art named ‘Mother-Bird’ by Keisuke Aiso, displayed at Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo. It has made enough people uncomfortable to gain attention and be deemed as a sculpture of horror. As this gained attention, so did it give other people ideas to morph this work to be something more than just a piece of art, and thus the ‘Momo’ challenges began, where children were told to complete harmful tasks after contacting ‘Momo’ through WhatsApp. Similar to the Blue Whale challenge, which occurred during the time of the creation of the Mother-Bird sculpture, the ‘Momo’ challenges looked to initially claim lives. News sites only enhanced the fear of the challenges as well as the statue and thus the challenges were spread globally for all to see – this in turn opened opportunities for others to take up the challenge themselves or just investigate, which is not a safe idea, especially for children. Although the news has indeed informed the people that Momo exists, it has also led the subject to become popularised and thus become more dangerous.
In saying that, what I have also noticed is media blowing up the seriousness of a minor group. I know he is the man I always go to for examples, but that’s what history is for – Hitler literally used this sort of power through the media to do what he did. Politically, this allows extremists to get their word out and make changes to society that simply are not needed, and the example I will choose to use is anti-vaxxers. Anti-vaxxers have gained more and more attention with the media, to the point where they are influencing others to get involved to decline their spread of influence. Social media platforms are already looking to filter out anti-vaxxers, although there will always be a few who leak through. It was once believed that in the United States that the measles was completely eliminated from the society, however with the rise and influence of anti-vaxxers there has been a resurgence, thus endangering those within the country who have not yet been vaccinated, and possibly creating a stronger disease. Most stories about anti-vaxxers nowadays have become Popular News simply because they tell us what they are up to and why, not what this means for our society as a whole.
It is not to say that gaining attention for smaller extreme groups is completely bad. It can actually help us as a society to quash the extremists for their lack of sense and science, and in return educate them with Informative News. If education is not a reliable solution due to the simple act of ignorance, actions can be taken to counteract these ideals. For example, Italy has now banned unvaccinated children to be enrolled in schools for the safety of other children. According to BBC, parents of older children already enrolled who are not vaccinated will face up to $560 in fines, thus making vaccinations mandatory although the country will not stop these children from attending school. It is therefore with BBC that we see the Informative counteract the Popular by providing a factual narrative on the topic of anti-vaxxers.
It is honestly such a shame that majority of people on social media will look at Popular News comparative to Informative News, and that is purely based on the lack of trust within the news industry. On top of this, there are usually a million variations of Popular News because it is what gains the most attention and thus will tell the writers that this is what people want more updates on. I can only plead that people who read Popular News have an open mind enough to take in the words, but do not allow it to conform their ideals and morals.
Consistently I see on social media when ‘justice’ has not been served to the people’s ideals that they go to the extremes and comment that they want the worst possible outcome to occur – humanity is losing its core as extreme ideals come with extreme responses. For example, I do understand that the case of George Pell has come to light with his conviction of 6 years in prison for sexual assaulting children, however people are coming out of the dark to state that he should have just gotten the death penalty. Although I agree that 6 years is disgraceful for the Australian justice system, the reality is that we don’t know what will happen to him in prison – perhaps people will get their wish and he will die, perhaps he will be assaulted just as bad. One thing should be certain – that the man should not come out of prison as his crime has been deeply embedded into the lives of the families he has affected, and 6 years does not justify that as a certainty, but proclaiming that he deserves the death penalty does not help society at all.
It is with this I leave you with – Popular News is designed to entertain, Informative News is to help you understand. Personally I cannot stop you from reading one over the other as much as I can stop myself as there will be things that I will want to read, although I will ask that before you comment on anything extreme, educate yourself. Do not let media be your only source of news, especially when on social media platforms. Be aware of what is happening around you for your own safety, as well as the people around you.