▀ The Pakistani image of mainstream media
The media is a force to be reckoned with. Many Pakistanis would agree to the statement that the Pakistani media is a major force determined in eliminating as many grey cells as it can from the brains of the population. However, the opinion would rather lie around the fact that the big media, the one that moulds popular culture and opinion, has become increasingly liberal. Thus, the big media is seen as a promoter of vulgarity and is generally spoken against on most public discussion forums. Ironically, it must be stated that the Pakistani market is the largest consumer of Bollywood outside of India, and the ‘liberality’ standards that are set by the Indian industry are certainly not within the boundaries of what Pakistanis that constantly complain about the falling of their own media consider acceptable.
Although in practice this maybe a very well formed opinion among the masses and carries a certain weight in its own right there does certainly exist a much more harmful aspect of the media that people are blind towards role in reducing and at some instances completely stagnating the mental growth of the nation. Analyzing the major programming that consumes a large portion of the airtime on major entertainment networks we discover a rotting compost of mental excrement: The Pakistani soaps or “dramas” as they are more commonly known. Anyone that argues that the programming that airs on these entertainment channels is harmless and has little effect on society around it is completely lost in this regard and has no understanding on the science of perception.
▀ The TV – a subconscious learning tool
There is a reason the term “programming” is used to describe the content that airs on television. Although the term might have been used in lieu of a better word to describe the technical process of airing the content that was scheduled it definitely has it alternative meaning in terms of the effect it has on the brain of the ensuing viewer who has his or her complete attention invested into the screen in front of them. To put it in simpler terms, what you watch “programs” you. Unintentionally, the subconscious accepts whatever is being pumped down its throat.
Even though consciously you may not agree with anything that is being shown and the culture that is being depicted merely because of the formation of an image in your mind the chances that the concepts you witness in TV shows gradually seep in and affect your behavior. Mostly, this happens when your watching ‘casual’ programming as then you don’t have any mental roadblocks setup to dissuade your mind from accepting what is being shown and taught.
▀ The State of The Mind on TV
Henry E. Krugman based his theory of television advertising on this particular concept back in 1969. The article titled “Passive learning from television” published by Henry and his partner Eugene L. Hartley mentions the discovery of Alpha wave activation during the period of time in which TV is being watched.
Alpha is the state of mind which also activates during the moments a person goes to sleep or goes into a relaxed hypnotic state. Logical thinking is discarded at this point and most suggestions made during this state are readily accepted. So now that we have concluded that the brain is swallowing everything that is being sent its way like a light hungry black-hole, being a citizen of Pakistan and having exposure to Pakistani media the question arises: What is the brain being taught all this while?
Alpha is the state of mind which also activates during the moments a person goes to sleep or goes into a relaxed hypnotic state.
That’s right! A huge cache of family politics, backstabbing your own brothers and sisters and story-line that has absolutely no focal point. These particular characteristics of the media although at the forefront of the brain rotting service are surprisingly not the ones that cause the most harm.
▀ The Harmful Stuff
What characteristic causes the most harm then? The answer to this question is not comprised of many but only a couple – the two headed dragon of mental demise attacks on only two fronts.
A while back in Islamabad there was a conference on entrepreneurship in which a British professor was a panel speaker. As is common with classic Pakistani holier than and smarter than thou attitude his very useful analysis based on his observation of our society was brushed under the table. His most useful observation was regarding our Pakistani ‘dramas’ – mainly on how the ‘dramas’ always have a particular portrayal of society his words covered the observation on how in these portrayals of society the end result of a possible struggle is valiantly mopped onto the screen in which the protagonist or in some cases the antagonist or both are always the owners of a big house, a big car and a big office. This is au contraire to the current state of the economy and society. Quite frankly, the manner in which the society is depicted gives the impression of a highly developed nation where almost everyone owns the luxuries that people here would gladly go forth and give an arm and a leg for.
Since close to 70% of the population still resides in rural areas and doesn’t posses a quality education which gives critical thinking ability the content they are exposed to on television is rapidly absorbed as the truth by this particular segment simply due to the fact that this is seen as the lifestyle of the achievers that have a large wealth count.
“It is never shown how the individual being depicted in these dramas managed to build a large business that enables him to drive big cars or own large houses”, the keenly observant professor had stated. His observation held weight as the struggle is never shown and the challenges involved are never discussed it comes to no surprise that there are very few innovative entrepreneurs in our society, almost a negligible amount, that is adopting an entrepreneurial lifestyle. These people come from a particular class and definitely have increased exposure to western media. However much the devil you may think the western media to be it is still widely colorful in the amount of varying topics it covers and is very well regulated. Factors that affect the economic growth are very seamlessly brought into as part of the storyline and anyone watching is exposed to these concepts enabling them to learn much more than family politics.
▀ The Negative Endings
Almost all Pakistani TV shows end on a negative note. There is rarely the depiction of a protagonist coming out on top after having battled adverse circumstances in his life. This is the second biggest problem with Pakistani media: The constantly negative nonsensical endings of storylines. Ask yourself the following question: When has any single Pakistani drama ever ended on a positive note? The idea that life only contains negativity and doom builds this perception into everyone’s minds. While the rest of the world is busy watching documentaries on engineering wonders and achieving feats such as earth returning rockets all our people are being exposed to night and day is negativity.
This has a very dangerous effect immediately witnessed in the form of a large rise in crime and terrorism. People go down this path because they only see doom and gloom in their lives instead of a positive future outcome – a constant reinforcement of this thought leads them to always expect the negative from society eventually causing them to become enemies of it.
▀ The Absence of Science
The third and final shortcoming of the media revolves around the absence of science fiction. This is a major shortcoming. Never do the members of society ever come to think of a scientific solution to their problems. We as a nation have goals of maximizing the money spent on weddings, houses and cars rather than investing this money into making more of it while solving society’s problems through the scientific method. We place ourselves in a vicious cycle of perpetual debt ridden angst. Suffice to say that the large majority of Pakistan’s cadre of self serving ‘engineers’ and ‘scientists’ are intellectually poor since the only real reason students are pushed into a study of the sciences is so that they can get a better job.
Unfortunately, many of the graduates in recent years are still without a job mainly because of the false perception of scope and the non existent innovative entrepreneurs that seek on adding value into the economy.
Due to the absence of science fiction in media, the people of this country never realize the potential of the positive impact innovation can have on their lives. The exposure to science fiction helps in expanding the boundaries of the mind. Although fantasy also helps in generating interest in imagination, the achievement of superhuman feats is done via magic while in the case of science fiction it is done through science. Since science is a field that people have access to it immediately sparks curiosity and interest in the heart and mind. This eventually leads interested people into the field and the result is a clever bunch of visionary entrepreneurs and scientists. As proof of this fact look at the amount of individuals with a vision that are part of the developed world responsible for lifting it out of darkness.
As an example take Elon Musk. Now imagine a man such as him in Pakistan making the very statements that he is famous for. He would have been mocked and penalized for his bold thinking and far fetched ambition. This is the very reason that charlatans appear every few years that claim to run cars on water and we have heads of major scientific organizations in the country nodding their heads to endorse these snake oil salesmen.
Unless the Pakistani people wake up and realize that life is more than marital relationships and strange non-converging depressing storylines we will continue to fall deeper into economic downturn and more social ills will fall upon us as a nation. Understanding the power of the media is critical in turning the tide against the intellectual decay of society and discouraging the rat race for lawn prints and large weddings. Until these concepts are absorbed and integrated into mainstream media no change will result while a ready acceptance and absorption of these ideas will result in an upwards spiral towards economic prosperity.