I really like this quote from philosopher Jacques Ellul. I am not a complete fan of Ellul, but he provoked me to think on more than one occasion. I have had a professor, Harold O.J. Brown speak highly of him, especially in regard to his understanding of our technological society:

“It is the emergence of mass media which makes possible the use of propaganda techniques on a societal scale. The orchestration of press, radio and television to create a continuous, lasting and total environment renders the influence of propaganda virtually unnoticed precisely because it creates a constant environment. Mass media provides the essential link between the individual and the demands of the technological society.”

The thing that grabs me about this quote is upon reading it and grasping it, the first thing we do is say how the royal “WE” are not suceptible to being propaganized by the mass media. Seeing the discussions that happen on here about TV announcers, Applebee’s commmercials, political opinions and our urge to be wise-fools with our certainty about our political opinions reminds just how much of a hold the mass media culture has on us, especially with its near constant push to influence us.

That is a shame in many ways, not the least of which is that with the prescense of so much communication technology, like message boards, there is an absence of real communication, thought and wisdom that exchanged. That is a shame.

I am convinced that the emergence to what I call “technologism”, really a belief system that advancing uses of technology will solve inherent, internal problems is a form of the ancient (ca. early Roman Empire) mystery religion of gnosticism. That is that all we lack for escape and relief of present day problems is some sort of secret knowledge that can move us beyond our problems. I guess this has cropped up through the years via the various utopian systems after the mid-1700’s. They all tend, as theologian/philosopher Francis Schaeffer would say, to cut off the “upper story” from our existence, that is the outside, open universe that as Schaeffer taught was best expressed in a Trinitarian God. I think that propaganda through the ease of mass communication devices, even solitary devices like iPods, can be abused for the individual to force him to deal with an envrionment which he is ill-equipped to handle or discern.

Advertisements