One of the most debated topics today is that regarding all types of media and its influence on minds, young and old. Even if people do not understand how, most can appreciate that TV, movies and particularly the news has some impact on a persons mind.
The question then becomes, how influenced are we?
If we are influenced, how can we protect ourselves from the adverse effects of these platforms? This can be especially vital when talking about young and highly influential minds.
There was a film produced in 1988 named ‘The live’ directed by John Carpenter in which the main character of the film finds a box of sunglasses. He soon discovers that once he puts them on, he can see the whole world around him as it really is.
He is, in fact, able to now see all the subliminal media messaging that is beamed across the world. He soon discovers that there are thousands of hidden messages such as consume, watch tv, obey, submit. There is more to the story; however, for this article, it is useful to use this as an example.
The Greek philosopher Plato also presented a similar story with his “Allegory of the cave” regarding the nature of reality and perception. It is well worth checking out this story if you have not heard about this before.
Both of these examples mostly point to the nature of human experience and how we experience the world. The truth is we experience the world not as it is, or not as we think it is. Even more worryingly, it also hints at how our thinking can easily be manipulated in specific ways. We often don’t realise that we are doing it or that our thinking has been impacted. This all points to the influence of the unconscious mind on our lives. It also highlights the power that hypnosis plays in our everyday experiences.
So how do the media do it? Can they hypnotise you?
To help answer this question, it is helpful to understand and talk about hypnosis. But in short, yes, the media can and do hypnotise us daily. The worst part is that they know they are doing it!
Hypnosis can be described as a process where you focus your thoughts internally and close out the outside world. When used as a therapy process, it can make what looks like miraculous changes in people’s lives. And during this hypnosis process, usually, people are in a relaxed state. This state is often referred to as the alpha state – a slow brain wave.
Think about it; this also accurately describes our experience when watching Tv or reading a book—been absorbed while zoning out the rest of the world.
You may only realise that you have been zoning out when your partner starts to try to get your attention frantically and have been speaking to you for the last 5 minutes, and you didn’t even notice. This apparent loss of hearing is referred to as hypnotic phenomenon.
It’s not intentional; you have just been so absorbed (hypnotised) by the TV that you effectively did not hear them until they made a real effort to get your attention.
Or When engrossed in a movie or drama, the commercial break comes on, instead of watching it, you jump up and make a cup of coffee or visit the bathroom.
Both these are examples of how you have snapped out from the state of relaxation ( the alpha state) and are now in the concentration state (the beta state). Or another way to describe it is when you move from the unconscious process to the conscious process.
In essence, your partner talking to you-probably quiet angrily, and the commercial break have the effect of snapping you back into the present state of awareness. Back into the here and now. Thereby taking you out of hypnosis.
In the case of the commercials, it can indeed have the effect of snapping someone out of that relaxed, unconscious state, however, for many, this often doesn’t occur, and they continue in this hypnosis state during the commercial breaks. So not only are the movies etc. hypnotic but so too are the commercials.
This fact has not gone unnoticed by those whose’s sole purpose is to sell you things, and yes, they do actively utilise this process to affect you. It is not a coincidence that they often employ the services of a psychologist, especially those that are experts in communication, influence, and human behaviour. By the way, having a belief that you have a strong will or a strong mind will not protect you against this influence. Why ? -because it is happening below your awareness, it is the unconscious process that is being influenced and not your conscious process.
The media can and does influence your actions, thoughts, beliefs, and, ultimately, your behaviour in the real world.
So what can you do?
An excellent first step is to read what is being presented below. It is important to remember that you are you with your values. These values can serve you well.
However, it is also true that most people in the world do want to stay “informed” or even worry that they are somehow missing out if they don’t (that is another topic for another day), so what can you do?
The following could act as a guide:
- Evaluate what you are watching or hearing against your values
- Consider the information as interesting and get curious about how that fits with your values
- Occasionally watching programmes that are not in line with your values can be useful to help to understand the opposite view. I.e., keeping an open mind.
- Important– Been conscious is vital; otherwise, you could find yourself absorbing ideas that may not be aligned with your values; this can cause inner personal conflict.
- Decide to make a conscious decision as to whether you agree or not, using data and facts rather than just because it feels right! Fact-checking appears to be a dying art!
Other practical tips to help you avoid the negative influence of media:
- Decide in advance which programmes you want to watch or movies you want to see, and this is so easy to do today
- Some people choose to stop watching TV altogether, or at least stop watching all news and focus only on the programmes that they like on Netflix, for example.
- Look for positive news stories
You can probably see that theory is great, but in reality, it will be almost impossible to block out all negative messages and content.
But you will be reducing your overall exposure and loading, allowing you to regain some personal power as you develop the skill of becoming selective and conscious of what you decide to watch and ultimately absorb.
Understanding how hypnosis and the hypnosis process can be used in ways that you are not aware is an essential part of taking control of what influences you want in your life.