Eco-PR: Playing on Public Perceptions
So here at the tail end of History…It seems like difficult new ideas are no longer seized upon and celebrated in the face of social conformity and Fear Culture. Much like a the Scientific Method that once thrived on dissent and debate, we’re now left to average out ideas according to the will of a moral majority, and settle for the lowest common denominators as a result. Genuinely “progressive” ideas are either exploited for their shock or entertainment value, or just auto-polarized into set points of view, and then self-neutered before they can even make a significant impact. All too often the underlying potential for change held within key (or even catastrophic!) events, and the scary possibilities that lurk behind bold ideas become lost in the homogenizing presentation stream of Current Affairs, or wrapped up in dogma and diatribe of the Eco-Elite to better represent our prevailing Culture and Society in more acceptable terms. Like the Scientific Method that eschews difficult debates, our Public Perceptions about important issues are left to wither as well.
Take “Environmentalism” for example….
Take Environmentalism for example…
To question the current regimes that form the public face for popular Environmentalism is akin to heresy. Raising difficult issues in social settings often results in surprisingly auto-reflexive defense mechanisms engaging. In the Mainstream Media such debates are often pre-neutralized by well-oiled PR machines that have clearly shaped the nature of news in the absence of more costly investigative reporting, and provided general audiences with theri pre-fabricated public opinions for quite awhile now.
Consider the hunt of arctic seals that could feed starving polar bears, and relieve stress on the decimated fish stocks that the Canadian Government continues to protect with moratorium on the fishing industries. Instead we see the results of Eco-PR where a species who’s white fluffy pups make for great photo opportunities are in fact thriving in the Arctic and benefiting from a lack of natural predation, are curiously still the greatest beneficiaries of protective Eco-PR efforts, while wolves and bears risk going the way of the Cod. Modern man-made efforts to manage nature are dubious at best, and often ruled by emotion rather than practicality.
History is full of such complex struggles, yet the results are often stripped of their alternative context, and then cemented into more comfortably familiar points of view. The outcomes of such ideological arguments are all too easily re-purposed in service of current agendas, and in many cases the flames of these fractured conflicts (between otherwise well-meaning parties) are often found to have been fanned and even surreptitiously funded by their enemies in a classic “divide and conquer” strategy. Consider that possibility in terms of weighing the respective risks of BigOil vs.Nuclear.
After a long Human history of developing and exploiting natural resources to support rampant growth based economies, could the concept of Eco-Logical Awareness itself now also be getting refined from a raw commodity into a multitude of powerful socio-economic devices to service short term gains? This time by developing market desires and demand that can be satisfied through manufactured public perceptions which produce corporate, political, and yes, even personal/social acumen…virtual or otherwise. If so, how to we shift this virtual sub-economy into becoming truly renewable, rather than just burning through the raw resources?
Take for example popular Environmentalism, and the long dawning awareness of a now genuinely accepted Ecological Movement. What were once fringe subject that promised to entirely change the ‘Nature of Humanity’, have now finally risen to a well illuminated prominence and taken its rightful place on a world stage…At least as a huge cultural phenomenon.
Yet, rather than creating the enormous shift in economic models, social structures, and political paradigms as was once envisioned and certainly expected from such a huge rise in global awareness, the countless issues that clearly affect us all as Humans (and other interdependent species) have also become just another source of social stress, and personal ennui. Something to be either bandied about in conversation, or exploited and possibly even suppressed, depending on which side of the ledger you sit.
So perhaps in order to advance “The Cause” beyond it’s current phase, we should also recognize that Environmentalism (as we currently know it) might also be another valuable raw resource that can either be properly managed or squandered in service of the bottom line. Otherwise this entire and enormous subject risks being assimilated into a globally homogenized and pervasive perspective that individuals may feel is beyond their personal domain, and instead rely upon a ruling or commercial/merchant class to offer them guidance through familiar channels. Creating a more disembodied form of responsibility that many people are starting to suspect is indeed being removed from them and re-packaged for the sake of Political and Economic objectives, rather than in creating and promoting the kinds of economically risky grassroots Cultural and Social values that most people would prefer to see the Fate of Humanity being based in.
At that rate though, Environmentalism risks becoming just another fact of life that we can actually do little or nothing about, save for a few token personal gestures or local initiatives that we undertake to assuage our personal desires, regardless of how dis-empowered we might still feel in the grand scheme of things.
Of course such impotent ennui is the furthest thing from the Truth, and the recent appeal for continued Consumption during the “Economic Downturn” is evidence of just how powerful the individual Consumer could actually be if they were to act in concert with one another.Unfortunately, such a collective effort is dependent on how we see one another within our social circles, our extended Communities, and right out into the Global Village. We’ve become almost entirely dependent on our ‘electronic nervous system in forming our world views, and inured to most truths that aren’t reflected in the tried and true methods of the Mainstream Media.
So on that note, perhaps we should consider going back to another old idea from the 60’s and re-thinking our habits around Media Consumption, and becoming a more discerning and Audience…Especially now in a modern age where the old Broadcast Model is already being threatened by a Peer-to-peer model that we certainly need to develop as we slowly come to realize that the Mainstream Media is indeed very much part of the problem, and will at best do what it can to delay genuine change and solutions.
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What Is the Media Teaching Us ?