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What is real?  If you were to watch David Kaplan’s new short movie entitled, Play, reality could just be a game.  If reality is simply what your five senses feed your brain, it is nothing but a series of electrical impulses.  So there’s reality reality, as in the sensation of spring time when the barren landscape of winter explodes with a giant ka-bloom of flowers on every tree.  Seems pretty real, right?  It is really just a series electrical impulses that trigger our synapses.  So what else conjures up electrical signals that effect our brain?  Enter: media.

In its purest form media is simply communication. In years past this included primarily newspapers, magazines and vinyl.  When the barrier to entry for media was at its highest—when you had to buy a printing press in order to spread the word—media moguls saw this as an opportunity to control the hearts and minds of the public.  At least that’s how Gail Wynad thought in Ayn Rand’s classic novel,The Fountainhead.  But look at ole Gail Wynad against our real life media baron, Rupert Murdock, it seems to be an accurate depiction.  It has been widely known for ages that “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

Now in the age of the Internet, there has been a philosophical jail-break of ideas and opinions through the ever-widening channels of social media.  Suddenly the hearts and minds are not forced into reading the daily newspaper and watching the evening news where the adage “if it bleeds it leads” is still painfully true.

Looking at the cause and effect nature of media, a massive shift also occurred.  Back in the day of printing presses, it would take many hours to broadcast the news from that day, no matter how gigantic.  That all changed with the advent of social media.  As documented by Dan Gilmor in We the Media, the day that it changed was on March 26, 2002 when Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio was answering questions during a press conference when someone in the audience, keeping track of the social stream on their mobile device, noticed that Mr. Nacchio had just sold $200 Million in shares in the company.  Contradicting what Joe was saying to the conference, this reporter raised his hand and called Joe on the carpet and asked him about the nefarious stock trade.

Media ceased to simply report events, and began to actually affect events.

Now we see that every day as Facebook brings together old friends—friends that would not have reconnected without the friend recommendation.  So, what is next?  Where is the media industry going now?  We’re like a snow globe all shook up.

Philosophically if News Corp loses its grip on us, and we are no longer force-fed the worst news the pundits can dig up, maybe we’ll start to see that the glass is half full.  If the public doesn’t have to take the incessant bad news, maybe this is a way to make the world a better place.  I have personally gone on a news fast and I feel great ever since.

I’m optimistic that although all this havoc is making it very difficult to make money in the media industry, there are many good things to come.  We don’t pick up the paper any more for front page headlines about murder, rape, political turmoil, religious warfare, cultural intolerance and greed—all because all of us have the power to generate content.  And if the concept of mind-over-matter has any glimmer of truth, just the avoidance of horrible headlines will bring more positivity to our world.  Time to stop and smell the virtual roses.

Talk about trending up!

- Jon Heinrich


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