The Shallows of the Mainstream Mind

The mainstream mindset always seems odd to me.

There can be an issue, event, or whatever that was reported in the alternative media, was written about by independent investigative journalists, was the target of leaks and whistleblowers, was researched by academics, and was released in an official government document. But if the mainstream media didn’t recently, widely, extensively, and thoroughly report on it, those in the mainstream can act as if they don’t know about it, as if it never happened and isn’t real.

There is partly a blind faith in the mainstream media, but it goes beyond that. Even the mainstream news reporting that happened in the past quickly disappears from memory. There is no connection in the mainstream mind between what happened in the past and what happens in the present, much less between what happens in other (specifically non-Western) countries and what happens in the US.

It’s not mere ignorance, willful or passive. Many people in the mainstream are highly educated and relatively well informed, but even in what they know there is a superficiality and lack of insight. They can’t quite connect one thing to another, to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. It’s a permanent and vast state of dissociation. It’s a conspiracy of silence where the first casualty is self-awareness, where individuals silence their own critical thought, their own doubts and questions.

There is also an inability to imagine the real. Even when those in the mainstream see hard data, it never quite connects on a psychological and visceral level. It is never quite real. It remains simply info that quickly slips from the mind.

12 thoughts on “The Shallows of the Mainstream Mind

  1. I’ve encountered that mindset many times, Benjamin. As a contrarian on the Reader Comments board of our local newspaper, I often make assertions that go against the prevailing orthodoxy. Consequently, I am often challenged by mainstreamers who say that my view is merely my “opinion” and that it means nothing unless I can back it up with “factual evidence,” specifically some news report. These people attribute godlike respectability to the mainstream news media and belittle all else.

    • So many discussions seem like repeating discussions I’ve had hundreds of times before. And each time it’s beginning from step one. It’s as if others see it as your responsibility to educate them, when to get them to even begin to comprehend what you’re talking about would require they at least spend hours reading some key texts. But of course they aren’t going to spend hours doing that. They want you to give them predigested info, just as the MSM does for them, simplified and dumbed down for mass consumption. To have to read, think for themselves, and figure something out is too much to ask.

  2. what tomhuckin said. I get exactly that response when I argue my contrary opinions, even if it seems to me that the only sort of logic or proof they have is consensus.

    Conversely, I certainly don’t walk around with all the depressing news of the world in my head at all times. Denial seems to be a requirement for not committing suicide, don’cha think?

    • I’m a bit of an odd duck. I’ve been severely depressed for so long that I’m used to thinking about depressing things. I have an extremely high tolerance for anything depressing, news or otherwise. I’m a highly trained professional at being being in a permanent state of depression. It is one of my talents.

      I haven’t killed myself yet. I did try back in my late teens. Research shows that the longer you’re depressed the least likely you are to kill yourself. Humans can get used to almost anything. Eventually, depression becomes normalized. It’s just your reality.

      This leads to what is called depressive realism. People with depression are able to see certain things more clearly, not everything of course but some things. I’ve written about depressive realism before. It relates other research as well, such as that pessimists are able to more accurately assess present reality, including of themselves, although they aren’t better at changing conditions to create a different future.

      I wouldn’t recommend depression to others. But I guess it’s nice that it has some advantages, even as other aspects of it really suck. If given a choice, I’d gladly give up my depressive realism along with my depression.

  3. yeah, I guess. As long as I don’t have to give up realism in all of its forms! I’m pretty much there with you, even if my reasons may not be quite as compelling. Don’t get me wrong, my reasons are compelling enough, I don’t have memories of specific sexual crap, but my other sibs do, my family were hillbilly baby fuckers. I’m just sort of breaking out in symptoms these days, having held it off while my own kids grew up, and I’m going to have to start some work about it, but right now, the state of the issue is one of my sisters figures Grandad fucked us all and the other one thinks I escaped him but was abused by an aunt, one of Grandad’s other daughters, of my mom’s sisters. It’s a can of worms I’d rather not open, I’d just as soon be put out to pasture and simply left alone for the rest of my days, but these sorts of cans of worms are self-opening. I got a list of counsellors to start with, but I expect I’l wind up moving up the educational ladder to a psych before long.

    I know whatcha mean, ‘I wouldn’t recommend depression’ to anyone – but I do think I recommended it to myself at some, point, I do feel that there’s a certain amount of inviting the disorder in, at least for me. Like it was a moral stance, a version of being true to myself, being true to my mistreatment, maybe even when I’d blocked all the really bad stuff out.

    I suppose when I’m reacting to the news, when it bugs me, that must be a symptom of hope, of still wishing, expecting something better, huh?

    • I’ve always wondered about childhood experiences. I have no idea if anything happened to me when I was younger. But in the past I got a weird vibe from an uncle of mine.

      My brothers have never mentioned anything to me, not that we ever talk about that kind of thing. I can’t imagine it ever coming up in conversation.

      I get what you mean about recommending it to yourself. There is a masochistic side of my personality. It completely has to do with some strange sense of morality. This part of me can make me harsh, critical, and uncompromising.

      My reaction to news these days is often anger. It feels better than simply giving into despair.

  4. The news is basically Pravda for the very rich.

    There is no sense of serving the common good. Only a sense of serving themselves and their advertisers. I think that as conditions worsen, the limits of propaganda are being tested.

    Certainly Generation y is much less prone to accepting the official narrative.

    • There are changes in the generations which will force changes in media, even mainstream media. It will be interesting to see how media develops in the coming decades. It could go in entirely new and largely unpredictable directions. Mainstream media this past century became centered on the national level. That might not be so in the future. I suspect there will be revival of local media of some sort, but maybe simultaneously more international media. It’s harder to imagine how that media will operate and be experienced, as technology will surely keep developing.

  5. Probably willfull ignorance. But also, educated dosen’t mean a “better thinker.” In fact, one of the biggest issues with those educated in the traditional elite sense is orthodoxy and getting stuck in well, run of the mill, just a high end run of the mil

    • I always wonder what is willful or not. Willfulness would require people be conscious of what they do and what other choices they have. I often doubt most people are that conscious.

      More key, to my mind, is your second point. Our education system doesn’t focus much on teaching critical thinking skills. The mainstream media doesn’t do much either in modeling critical thinking skills. As you say, that effects even the well educated.

      That brings back to mind an old post of mine that you commented on:

      • Plus, in case u haven’t noticed, the conventional liberals tend to be very classist and elitist. Perhaps unintentionally, too

        • Yeah, I’ve noticed. I do suspect it is unintentional, as it seems to be unconscious. This isn’t just about the wealthiest liberals. I’ve noticed the same bias among liberals of more modest means. This is apparent to me living in this middle class liberal town, a place that is quite unlike the world many Americans live in. Simply being a well educated liberal living among well educated liberals has the effect of disconnecting one from the larger world, even if one doesn’t necessarily make much money. Many liberals aren’t particularly wealthy, but neither are they particularly poor. They don’t understand what real poverty is like.

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