I read a very interesting article recently by Matt Taibbi that summarized his book Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another. In it, Taibbi, a journalist, talks about the evolution of the media in recent decades, and how it has become financially dependent upon peddling the idea of enemy.
Taibbi explains how, before the advent of the internet and the proliferation of news outlets, the media’s strategy was to reach the widest possible audience, because the wider their audience, the more advertising revenue they received. As a result, the news media presented information that was acceptable to the largest segment of the population and avoided extremist angles or ideologies.
But with the introduction of 24 hour news channels and the Internet, which led to a proliferation of news sources and the decimation of classified ad revenue, the media’s strategy changed. Now the objective became to identify a niche demographic and give them what they wanted.
One thing they discovered is that most people want news that confirms their biases about people they don’t like.
As Taibbi says:
In the post-objectivity era, media companies learned there was a consistent, dependable way to make money. First, identify an audience. Then, relentlessly feed it streams of stories that validate that audience’s belief systems.
“The easiest method is to publish stories that present people your audience does not like in a negative light.”
The media outlets also discovered that whenever they ran anything that challenged their audience’s prejudices they would lose readership, viewers and, most importantly, revenue.
In other words, the news media is now locked into an economic model that depends upon feeding us news that panders to our prejudices and ends up deepening our polarization as a society.
This is an example of what I call egonomics: an economic model that is built upon, depends upon, and reinforces egoic thinking.
You can see the profound effects of this media-fed polarization right now in the wake of Ruth Bader Gindburg’s death. When she came before the Senate in 1993 to be confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court, she was approved by a margin of 93 to 6. The fact that we can’t even imagine a confirmation with such overwhelming support in our day shows us the extent to which our cohesion as a society has unraveled.
It would be easy to point the finger at the media outlets for adopting this polarizing stance, but the fact of the matter is that it is us who demand it of them. It’s us who insist they feed our egoic concept of enemy.
Egoic thinking, in a nutshell, is thought that arises from the idea of separateness. Climate change and COVID-19 have not only helped us see the absurdity of such an idea, they have also revealed the profound injustices built into our egonomic system. That Wall Street indices have continued to rise even as hundreds of thousands have died, millions of people have lost their jobs or their businesses, and the land is decimated by hurricanes and fires tells us how profoundly disconnected our economic system is from the truth of our oneness.
And yet, in the midst of all of the intensifying polarization, political and social breakdown, and economic injustice, there is a converse movement underway that you will never find reported in the newspaper headlines. It is a tectonic shift that is taking place in our collective consciousness that is cracking the bedrock upon with the whole egoic enterprise rests, and preparing the soil for a new world to arise.
This is the shift out of the consciousness of separateness and into the understanding of inter-existence. It is a deep knowing of the intrinsic interdependence of all things, a recognition that is simply isn’t possible for anything to exist as an isolated entity.
This arising consciousness is born of the knowing of the Heart, and it rests in the simple, inviolable, indivisible, eternal truth of Love.
In this moment of profound global change, many of us are committed to doing what we can to help accelerate this shift, and one of the things we can do is to notice whenever the concept of enemy is being presented to us.
The concept of enemy is core to the egoic thought system; it simply doesn’t exist in the Reality of Love. So whether it is showing up in our own minds, or being presented to us by the media, when we notice we’re being fed a story that promotes the idea of enemy, we are doing our part when we dismiss it as the ego’s fake news.