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I hate horror movies.   My kids to do.  Mike likes them and I will never understand why – if he rents one, he watches it alone.

I didn’t watch much tv as a kid, and even less movies.  My kids are in the same boat.  So I think we haven’t been desensitized to the gory images, the crazy suspense and the evil motivations.  To us they are still totally shocking.  In addition to to being sensitive due to lack of exposure – I also know I have overdeveloped sense of empathy.  So that definitely does not help matters.

The suspense parts are so unreal and heart-pounding I feel like I am going to explode.  When would we ever naturally be exposed to that kind of stress?  Hunting a wild animal in the jungle, going to war…  I haven’t been in those situations and sitting on the couch living those feelings seems ridiculous and not at all enjoyable.

The death, blood and evil motivations keep me thinking for hours, even days after a movie. I know it is JUST a movie, but I relive the feelings and images as if they could have been real.  What would it feel like?  How could someone think of doing that?

I wonder if being sensitive to extravagant media, which is increasingly pervasive in our society, will have an effect on how my kids integrate into society?  Will it matter?  Will they be at a disadvantage because they are more affected by graphic than other kids?

Fantasty, action films seem to be ok – I guess they are far-fetched enough that I don’t relate to them on a real-world level.  But films like Seven!!  I get nightmares watching the trailer (and I will never watch the movie).  How do people dream this stuff up, then how do they have the stamina to imagine the details an re-enact it?  It is so far out of my context, I can’t even begin to visualize it.

Romantic comedy and fun fantasy – happy ending required.  Or no movie at all and go for a run or sit by the fire.

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We are in the middle of a federal election and I, like many others, am disappointed in the attitude of the candidates, media and general public. Everyone seems extraordinarily critical of every mis-step and the media is focusing on drama and personality rather than policy and real impact.

If each of personally held our friends, neighbours and family members to the same standard as we do politicians… I am actually not sure what would happen. What I am trying to say is that we vilify politicians for making mistakes – with what they say, how they spend their money, the relationships they have etc. When someone digs up a historical transgression or we see a high profile person use questionable judgment people are very quick and aggressive in their criticism. But they are just human. We should seek to understand; context and communication will solve more problems than anger.

I have often considered entering politics. I am drawn to helping people, creating policy and creating consensus. I like to meet people, socialize and am good at public speaking – my family history is full of lawyers and politicians. I spend my free time with my family traveling, creating art and volunteering. Do I sound like someone who should be lynch mobbed in the press at every opportunity? I didn’t think so. And the requirement of a ridiculous tough skin has really scared me off entering public office.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the BC premier Christy Clark and took part in getting her elected as the leader of the Liberal party of BC. Christy is a friendly, charismatic, honest person. And one of the first editorials I read after she was elected was a scathing article on a decision she made about autism services in BC – very personal and critical of Christy personally and instantly jumping to the conclusion that the Liberal party is full of lies. What? Why? Do you know the history behind the decision? Do you really think good people try to make decisions to piss off as many people as possible?

So back to my original question. Would you insist your neighbour left the community if their marriage ended for all the wrong reasons? Would you disown your child for making a bad business deal with one of their friends? Would you quit your job if you boss had to declare bankruptcy due to family illnesses? Everyone is presented with difficult decisions all the time – in theory we know that learning from mistakes is best way to grow. But god forbid a politician makes a mistake – just one could easily end a career that was founded in trying to help society.

What do I want to hear? How will the Liberal policy changes affect me vs the Conservative ones. Not how many out-of-context remarks Harper or Ignatieff have made. I am interested in all of their personal lives – but I want the whole story: how they dealt with challenged and mistakes as well as their illustrious history of successes. I want them to take risks politically and try to make change – and be able to explain their logic. I want them to lead sometimes, and then I want them to listen to Canadians and feel safe changing their mind. Our current expectations and media coverage patterns reinforce a society of sheeple – and I hate it.

I want to go into politics and change it. But if the media doesn’t like the sounds of my voice, how much of a chance would I have? Would I be able to communicate my choices and reasons?  On the Christy Clark campaign I was truly surprised at the cut-throat competitive attitude between previously cooperative Liberals. Friends may still be friends, but on the campaign trail they were all about personal jabs and degrading the opponent. And I don’t mean the leadership contenders – but all their assistants and supporters.

Politics should be about cooperation and transparency. And believe or not – it starts with you, not the leaders. Read the stories that support open communication – don’t buy the magazines that pit one leader against another with bad quotes and visuals. Ask questions, seek to know both sides of every story – don’t jump to conclusions. If you want to influence the media – talk with your clicks and your wallet. If you want to influence politicians – get involved in the process and communicate to your leaders about what you expect.  The media and the election campaigns are only trying to entice you to support their camp – be open minded and honest with each decision, they will cater to your expectations.

Sometimes I will ask my 9 year old if she wants to stay in the car while I run into a store for a second.  Occasionally she would say ‘someone might steal me’.  I don’t really know where she gets this outlook from, but it bothers me.

I have told her repeatedly that if she is ever in trouble she can feel comfortable walking up to someone, a STRANGER even, and asking for help.  I don’t agree with the “don’t talk to strangers” rhetoric that is fed to north american kids.  There are people out there who are capable of bad crimes face to face with someone they don’t know – but do people honestly think by bringing their kids up to be wary of all other people they will protect their kids from this small minority.

There are so many reasons that teaching our kids the general rule “strangers should be feared” is fundamentally wrong.

First of all, it is based on the feeling that we are surrounded by many terrible people – which is a direct result of the media which is skewed to report on crime, corruption and sorrow.  Statistics, common sense – all point to the fact that the vast majority of people we pass in the street are law abiding citizens, and the percentage of the population that will attack a stranger is extremely small, minuscule even.

Second, it is my unproven theory that many of these ‘bad apples’ could be contributing members of society if they didn’t fall through the cracks.  If people, maybe other strangers, had been there to support this person at certain turns in their life, they may of taken a different path.  So the concept of avoiding contact with strangers almost perpetuates more people being ‘bad strangers’.

Third, I can’t think of many situations where, as a parent, fear mongering based on unfounded opinions actually protect children from harm.  Instead of teaching your kids how to be confident and trusting with people – so they are comfortable telling a weirdo to back off , yelling to get attention or approaching a stranger for help – you teach them to avoid strangers at all costs.  At its base, it will make kids, even adults, very uncomfortable if they are approached by a stranger and they won’t know how to ask for help when they really need to.  At its worst, they will grow up not being able to approach people – a life of believing in stranger danger can breed bad habits.

I traveled through Europe alone at 17.  A girl, with no fear and totally trusting.  I shared hotel rooms with strangers all the time. I remember stories of people having their organs stolen in youth hostels – I never believed it.   I never had anything stolen or anyone really trying to take advantage of me (or at least I saw it coming a mile away and I just brushed it off).

I insist that my kids talks to strangers regularly – mainly just saying thank you or asking a relevant question – but they practice nonetheless.  Most people want to do the right thing, they may be different or misguided, but they are usually trying their best.  True evil or insanity is very rare and we are breeding unfounded paranoia by focusing on it.

 

 

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