No one is a fan of the modern mass media. Our good friend Bruce Charlton in particular has been unsparing in exposing their defects. Interestingly, I heard a passage in Proverbs today that prefigures five mass media ills.
The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.
The mass media are foolish. They have to be simple, sense 1, in that they have to have easy-to-digest uncomplicated narratives. But since the world doesn’t come packaged like that, their narratives are simple, sense 2, in that they are foolish.
The mass media are imprudent. Their aim is chatter, so they are divorced from real world considerations and from the wisdom and judgment that only experience can teach. They are callow.
They do not fear and depart from evil. Instead, they seek it out for sensation and thrills.
They inspire spurious trust. The apparently faceless, objective format lures you into accepting it.
They are aimed to cause rage and reaction, not reflection.
I believe Proverbs hit so many nails on the head because the mass media is simply a reification of gossip. Everything I just said about the mass media applies to gossip. Even the point about spurious trust because of the faceless, impersonal quality. While gossip is spread person to person, there is always a sense that the person is just the vehicle for something that exists apart from him.
There is more from Iron Age herdsmen on the modern mass media.
he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.