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THE MEDIA IS A MIRROR

Recently, I overheard two women talking.

To be transparent, I wasn’t eavesdropping. They were pretty loud and I simply couldn’t help but hear what I was hearing.

While I only got a snippet, I was clearly getting the scoop … sort of like when you have TV news on while you’re shaving in the bathroom.

From what I recall, the women were chatting about shopping for clothes and department store mirrors crept into the conversation.

“I just don’t like them!” said one woman to the other. “Everybody knows they’re just NOT right!”

With that, I knew I’d be sitting here chatting with you.

All I can think is … Is THIS where we are right now? We stare into mirrors and when we don’t like what we see, we blame the mirrors?

Really?

If you go on social media and look at some of the profiles, you’ll see tons of people who’ve posted photos of themselves taking pictures of themselves in the mirror. It’s a city of cosmetic selfies. It really stuns me to see men doing this, but after all, Narcissus was supposed to be a man ... I guess.

These photos are quite revealing, but I think they say much more than the picture takers intend. More on that in a moment.

We’re living in the “Media Age.” Is it possible for the media to be any bigger than it is right now? I can’t imagine.

Given that, what’s the main function of the media?

Many would argue the media exists to cast confusion and fakery into our lives. Others would say it’s a money-making machine designed to keep itself in business. You might argue it’s about pure gossip and entertainment and some would say the media exists as a watch dog on government along with the institutions we hold dear … or at least not in contempt.

If we take a hard look, isn’t the media all those things? It’s a crazy, messy, bloody mix, but somehow, the media is what it is. Like everything else in this fallen world, it’s far from innocent and certainly not perfect.

I’m intrigued by the TV show, “This is Us.” The title of that show is genius … maybe evil genius. I’m convinced that the title is one of the many reasons for its great success. People watch in droves.

Why do we watch so much TV? I think it’s because we want to SEE something captivating. We are visual creatures after all. I think we also want human company that we can keep at arm’s length (literally and figuratively) … with the remote.

We also want to feel comfortable. We want to be connected and included. We want to be informed, but we mainly want to be entertained and perhaps carried away. Ultimately, even though television provides sort of an escape from our lives, we still somehow want to see OURSELVES reflected back when we watch. It’s weird.

Hence, “This is Us.”

Like it or not, the media is a mirror. This includes TV, radio, websites, social media, you name it. It’s all there reflecting us … back at us.

Even when we see something that seems so far removed from us, it’s still us. When we hear about people who’ve done bizarre things, they’re still us. There’s no escaping reality.

From crooked, despotic political leaders to sex abusing priests to grasshopper eating men to one-trick pony dogs …

It’s all US. We are looking back at ourselves and our society.

When I woke up this morning, I did what I always do. I head straight for the bathroom, lift the toilet lid and pee. Then I look at what the hours of half-baked sleep have done to my face and upper body.

Are my eyes bloodshot? Is my hair all over my head? Is anything hanging out of my nose? Do I have any crusty nonsense outside the corners of my mouth? Has my stomach deflated or expanded?

Yes, I’m being GROSS.

Yet isn’t this the reason why we look in the mirror … so that we can do something about the way we look? Nobody wants to be caught dead looking like the creature from the black lagoon.

We want to know what has gone wrong so we can fix it … or at least put a band-aid on it. Sometimes literally.

Once we’ve fixed it to our liking, some of us really like it and snap a photo of the result. If we love it, we post it to share with the gawking world.

I have a theory about many of us on social media. I think we want to be “stars.” Social media is a form of having your own TV show. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be on TV.

However, when you look at some of these profiles, you see nothing but selfies. Tons of ‘em. There’s also nothing wrong with selfies, but if your profile is full of nothing but dozens of selfies …

Well … that reveals much more about you than meets the eye. No? There’s much more bubbling up beneath the surface. It’s not merely physical, but psychological.

Hmm ... Are selfies a cry for help (see “The Secret Revenge of Selfies”)?

Traditional and social media are monumental mirrors that reflect all. Like it or not, whether we tweet or turn on the TV, we are getting (and giving) a reflection.

We can watch reality TV and pretend that those people up there are pathetic low-lifes, but don’t we have some culpability in all of this? Aren’t we watching these “low-lifes?” Aren’t we engaging with them to some extent?

Are we not seeing something of ourselves? I mean, hey, we watch what attracts us and whatever attracts us defines us to some extent. Does it not? Could this be a twisted, “law of attraction” thing?

I have quite a few mirrors in my home. One of the things that I love about mirrors is that depending on where you place them, they can reflect a ton of light. I like to think that apart from reflecting US, mirrors reflect light.

Mirrors can’t really reflect darkness, but they do reflect and shed light on the darkness within. They reflect what we may want to hide.

This whole reflection thing is also true of the media. The media is here to reflect US. The good, the bad and the ugly ... and given human nature and the state of the world, it reflects more darkness than light.   

We can pretend that what we’re seeing is something else, but it is what it is.

The media is a mirror. We can use it like a mirror. The media is NOT the enemy. It’s a vehicle. We can use the media just like we use a mirror. Both mirrors and the media shake us and wake us up by showing us who WE are. They convict us.

We can choose LIGHT … if we heed the messages in the reflection.

If we don’t like the reflections we see, we can fix them. There’s so much to see that we don’t like, but the point is we CAN fix them.

We CAN fix corrupt, tyrannical leaders by VOTING THEM OUT. After all, aren’t our leaders a reflection of US? We may not look like them, but they are indeed reflecting our spoken and unspoken values at any given moment. They are representing US.

We can also heed what we hear in the media about school shootings, search our souls and do … SOMETHING. We can gaze into the mirror, look at our polluted world and decide as individuals to stop polluting and start cleaning.

Every reflection we see in the mirror and in the media is a conviction of US. I believe that this is partly why many people don’t like mirrors or the media … because they make them feel convicted. They make them feel guilty about what they see.

Isn’t this the job of mirrors and the media? To show us what’s wrong so we can get busy and fix it? If we don’t, who will?

It’s all about us deciding to face up to reality. We can watch a TV show, turn it off, wipe the sleep from our eyes and then, DO something.

We must really see the reflection and get real with ourselves. We can pushback if we’d like. We can look the other way, but the reflection is what it is. We might turn away, but the reflection remains the same. Without attention and care, it will likely grow worse.

In short, many issues have become so glaring that they can no longer be toyed with or ignored.

I’ll leave you now with a joke by a comedian (George Wallace?) whose wife, while looking in the mirror asks him …

“Honey … do these jeans make my butt look fat?”

And the comedian thinks to himself … but dares not say …

“No Dear, your ASS makes your ass look fat!”



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