so there’s this guy named Todd Gitlin and he wrote a book called Media Unlimited and it is pretty much all about what he calls the inescapable “torrent” of media in our lives

and media means a lot more things than we think it does – it’s tv shows and magazine covers and text messaging and music – anything that mediates direct experience with the world

and he has a lot to say about this, but the most pressing argument, to me, seems to be this: emotions are inconvenient. Our current (capitalistic) society is a world where our lives are measured by their value – where “time is money”, where “loser” and “winner” – monetary terms – are used to describe much more than that. “People now organize their lives to make money” (Gitlin 37) – and he eventually suggests that this mindset has led to estrangement in human relationships.

but living like this – like a machine, basically, and judging others in a similar fashion – is impossible and excruciating. We crave emotional, not rational lives, because “Feeling is the way a person gets personal”(40). and so we are left with a paradox – we crave emotion and sensation to distract ourselves from what culture supposedly finds most important

unfortunately – and Gitlin puts it better than I ever could – “Feeling too much, or expressing it too freely, would interfere with work and duty. (You do not want to give in to grief or, having fallen in love, go about walking on air while running a lathe or balancing the books.)”(41) And so, Gitlin argues, we instead invest in feelings through media – feelings that are ultimately “disposable.”

media allows us to experience emotions – and these emotions are just as real and perhaps even greater than our ‘real life’ emotions – without them having any impact on our rational lives. emotions are often impractical and inconvenient. but if you are made sad by sherlock, or the notebook, or supernatural, you can turn it off. you may still feel the sadness, but it will not have any impact on your rational life, and you will not have to deal with the consequences of any of the events. while our media affects us, we have no direct effect upon it, removing a strain and hassle that is implicit in relationships with all other human beings.

basically, what he’s saying is that the world sucks. we have been driven, by way of alienation, to this band-aid on a problem that results in us winding down from the day by sitting down in front of the tv, or tumblr. I’ve always had something weird gnawing at me about this website, and I think this is it. we take comfort in being able to experience emotions that are, overall, disposable, and there is not much of a way for us to escape this.

idk if anybody else is interested in this and or why I’m publishing it but it’s really interesting to me so here we are


This is cool!  And it has the ring of truth in it, to some extent.  Except that we have ALWAYS done this, in stories, songs, myths, folktales, and plays.  I think it’s not so much something that has happened due to the structure of modern society as that it’s a drive humans have always had, and maybe it’s been exacerbated by modern society.

I think…real emotions often aren’t all that much fun.  It’s not fun to be afraid for your life, or to grieve, or to have to give up something you really wanted because you have a duty to family or a promise to fulfill or whatever.  It’s not fun to fall out of love or be humiliated or stressed and worried.  BUT we know, all too personally, the intense power in those emotions.  So maybe media is a way of feeling it and then being able to set it aside when we’re done.

And I don’t know…  Thinking about it, I’m wondering if we’re really so emotionless, these days.  Certainly constructing your life around the pursuit of money is pretty lousy, but 1: I’m not sure it’s THAT hard to live a different way if you really want to?  (But then again, maybe it is; I’m not sure whether I’m in a good position to sort that in an objective way.)  2: and this one I AM sure of, being focused on things in terms of money does not make you colder or more immune when you lose someone you love or humiliate yourself publicly or fail in your hope of achieving something you desperately wanted.

So I think Gitlin’s really on to something, but I wonder if he got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

Thinking a bit more, I have an alternate proposition:  that humans by and large don’t WANT to feel things too intensely.  I’m not sure how serious I am about this, exactly…but then again, I think that the great call of humans in a state of high emotion is usually, “Why can’t it just stop?”

Sooooo what if we engage in media because we CAN make it stop?  We can feel what we want to, when we want to, and then stop feeling when we want to—more or less, of course.  At any rate, when it comes to the emotions generated by media, we can surface back up to the real world and recognize that we have the power; we can walk away and at the end of the day, it’s not really we who are affected.

I’m not sure if that idea is going anywhere, or where to take it if it is.  But you said you wanted to talk about this idea, and it made me think, so I figured I might as well throw it out there. ^_^

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