Learning to Handle the Truth
We have to allow ourselves to feel harmed in order to find a new world.
The media lies, but even when it tells the truth, it is lying, in the sense that for everything in a frame there are infinite things outside of it. What media companies decide to allow in the frame—who they decide to allow on our TV screens, what our algorithms allow us to show each other, what reporters choose to write about—is a particular version of truth, one that most often aligns with those in power. This is the basic argument in Chomsky and Herman’s (why does everyone always forget about Herman!) work in Manufacturing Consent. The mainstream media, beholden to state actors for information and corporations for support, will only give us a truth that does not challenge the systems it is enmeshed in.
I think this is all true, but, I also think, we enjoy and participate in this—that we are consensual partners in this manufacturing of consent. And I think we do this because it is emotionally regulating to do so. To perceive different truths, to allow ourselves to go out of frame, would be to destabilize our emotional lives, which, in the U.S. and other western countries, we have been taught should be as frictionless as possible.