Media’s Indoctrination Tool: Strength or Weapon?

By Ahsan Mehmood.

What if I tell you media is a mind altering device which psychologically changes the way you view reality? Your vision, your sight is restricted by the artificial clouds of fear generated by synthetic means to achieve a certain goal which is mostly driven by political and religious motives. Fear is like a slow poison which slowly and gradually infects a nation psychologically and mentally and becomes the driving force for its downfall. Most people don’t fail because of their incapabilities but because of the fear of failure.

In a world of capitalism, profit maximization is the sole purpose of any organization whether it’s a media outlet or any other Multinational corporate firm.  Unfortunately we are living in an era where everything has a price and you just need to know the right price to turn things in your favour. As Iqbal once famously said don’t sell your soul for gold and silver because a burning flame cannot be exchanged just for a mere spark.

Let me first introduce you to the concept of indoctrination. What is indoctrination? Indoctrination, by definition, is the instruction of a doctrine or ideology in a dogmatic manner. In today’s society, it is safe to refer to our magazines, our radio stations, our advertisements, our movies, our entertainment, our social media outlets, our newspapers, our television news outlets and our media in general as the dictators of our society’s political and cultural paradigms.

It is safe to say we are indoctrinated by media. Indoctrination is the process of forcibly inculcating another individual with ideas, attitudes, thoughts, cognitive strategies or professional methodologies to achieve specific religious, political, social and cultural goals. It is a kind of brainwashing procedure where a person instill his own set of ideas, believes and thoughts into someone else’s mind through a systematic manner. Modern day mass media exists to sway opinions, control behavior and destroy critical thinking skills and there is an increasing need to distance ourselves from this negative role of media.

Coming back to where I started the discussion, media is a source of indoctrination among masses. It brainwashes the masses by feeding them wrong information most of the time or if not then manipulating with the facts and figures by misquotation, misrepresentation or misinterpretation. There are a lot of examples to which you can easily relate this concept.

Moving on, it holds the power to alter public views and opinions on topics of national importance whether it is elections, war on terror, foreign policy or other relevant topics. Let me give you an example of Vietnam War, television coverage of the Vietnam War had a huge impact in America.  It was the first time people saw footage of combat in their homes, not only combat but more importantly the casualties resulting from it.  Seeing American dead and wounded was a real shock, in prior wars such images were rarely released to the public.  Television commentators also had a great deal of influence on the public.  Walter Cronkite was the most watched and respected news anchor of the time, after the Tet Offensive he made some comments questioning US involvement in the war, this was seen as a turning point in America’s support of South Vietnam.  After Cronkite’s broadcast President Johnson is supposed to have remarked; “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” TV coverage also fueled the anti-war movement in America. 

War correspondents reporting live from the battlefield were something new and there weren’t a lot of rules about where they could go or what they could say.  This provided protestors with lots of material, much of which was sadly out of context.  The military’s tight control of reporters during the Grenada invasion was the result.  

Cultural and Political aspects of this indoctrination in media has become a driving force behind our values. New values are introduced each passing day backed by some agenda to achieve strategic goals in the region as a whole and old traditional values which once used defined our identity, our purpose of existence, our motives are fading away with the ticking clock. If we see the beauty cream named “Fair and Lovely” in this particular scenario, what they are selling is not the cream or not promising the fairness as a result but indeed they are selling a false hope to people which have dark complexion to become fair.

People are highly inspired by celebrities, film actors and sportsmen and have changed their lifestyles and taken it to a whole new level in pursuit of the perfection benchmark – threshold level. A very high expectation benchmark is set which is almost impossible to achieve and as a result of which people are going into deep depressions and anxiety problems because they are not strong enough to handle the external pressure which is inflicted upon them by the society. Artificial demand of products is created and concept of branding is incorporated in the society to fulfill the profit maximization goal.

The solution I propose is a set of rules and regulations should be made by the media circles that should be strictly followed. Watchdog organizations should be there to judge whether the transmission is up to the credible and ethical standards of the society or not. Benefits of these solutions will be accuracy of information and increased quality and relevancy of the content. Credibility of the content and credibility of media itself will improve if the policies made are implemented in a proper manner. Media is a modern day weapon which changes the way how you see things and manipulates your opinions in such a way that you start perceiving things from a different angle.

In the end I urge you all to shed a light on this significantly important aspect of our lives and revisit our concepts, opinions and perspectives whether they are influenced by media or not.

The writer is a business student at Institute of Business Management, hailing from Karachi.

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