It’s Time for Regenerative Media Cultures – Here’s Why

By Thea la Grou


This blog post is based on the authors personal inquiry in an attempt  to understand the sudden shift in the media landscape during the 2016 U.S. elections. 

Urgently needed on a global scale: regenerative media cultures with deep listening and connected learning environments. Our collective story is the gateway into the future. As media consumers and creators, we must recognize the subtle yet radical shifts in communication technologies and how they affect our physical and psychological well-being. Today, more than ever, we can identify the future we wish to create. But to shift culture into a way of life that is sustainable, as citizens, we need to be active in creating and sharing solution-oriented content that encourages and instructs.

A positive news co-op may be one of many solutions. The ideal media co-op will connect organizations, artists, journalists, and filmmakers with the intent to flood the collective human psyche with solution-oriented, life-affirming content. It will not be owned or managed by one brand or entity, but will operate within an open-source, efficiently maintained co-op structure and frame of governance. Tiered privileges would exist for founders, funders, content producers and organizations depending on their level of agreed commitment. Founding members would agree to crowdfund member-led workshops (ex: 50 hours 8–50 members.)

The purpose of a positive news movement would serve a media commons by building bridges, connecting knowledge and resources, and expanding actionable and compassionate outcomes. An initial step will initiate a round table or diverse core team (by invitation and review) within a media incubator to establish essential trust and strategic collective vision. From there potential partner organizations, skilled practitioners, and thought leaders from various disciplines and sectors would be harvested and woven together.

Initial organizations with aligned activities and values include:

  • Solutions journalism, restorative journalism
  • Conscious media and social impact content producers and filmmakers
  • Community engagement practitioners
  • P2P, co-op practitioners
  • Education, project-based learning and connected learning practitioners
  • Social media distribution partners

Positive news themes and story maps include but are not limited to:

  • Alternative energy
  • Off-the-grid technologies
  • International Development and Global Goals
  • Circular Economy
  • Planetary Regeneration
  • Urban innovation
  • Impact investing, philanthropy
  • Eco-governance, environmental justice
  • Culture of peace and compassion, gift economy

A core team would bring together a diverse group of media organizations, visionaries, practitioners, theorists, and community storytellers who have a vision for positive, restorative narratives as an antidote for the complex tensions of our times. Listen to those working in the field — what is working? what are the challenges? First and foremost, the team would build community providing a safe place to gather around generative conversation, to form a collective intention and to cross-pollinate towards new planetary perspectives.

The good news is that there is good news everywhere. It’s not being reported.

Potential Outcomes:

  • Networked educational and connected storytelling with the intent to bridge cultural divides
  • Witness, report, share positive news — citizens media
  • Develop networked distribution
  • Organize toolkits for communities to support various avenues for regenerative dialog
  • Reinforce responsible citizen media, indie media, restorative media
  • Cultivate informed, active and compassionate global citizenry
  • Personal and community restoration through listening and storytelling
  • The role of local internet and community media
  • Learning journeys, virtual events, best practices, case studies

FILM IS A CATALYST FOR ENGAGEMENT

The first step towards creating regenerative cultures is to engage people in conversations that re-envision the future of the communities they live in.  Films for the Planet has compiled hundreds of relevant high quality educational films, viewable on demand, many of which have excellent educational resources and campaigns to engage people in conversation and informed action. Time and again we’ve seen film not only educate and inspire but ignite movements. Film plays a critical role as a catalyst for civic engagement, and provides impetus for successful policy change, philanthropy, conversation and social action.

Positive news is an antidote for our collective state of malaise and inaction as we awake to find ourselves in a form of invisible psychological warfare — our hearts and minds distracted and infected by negative emotional and social contagions. As consumers we must be vigilantly aware of how environmental toxins affect our diets and body. The same can be said for our economies, supply chains, and our planet in terms of toxic imbalance. More than ever this is true for media consumption as our minds and hearts are exposed to an increasingly toxic and destructive media environment.

Reasons we need positive news distribution (The bad news):

  • Psychological consequences of negative news and emotional contagions
  • How and why news and corporate media manipulate public opinion
  • How to identify the 21 flavors of cognitive dissonance and their effects on discourse
  • The role and responsibility of citizen media, local and national media to promote civic engagement and to protect democracy and freedom of speech.
  • Threats to national stability, global democracy: First Amendment rights, press freedoms
  • How the Internet, VR and disruptive, unregulated AI technologies and deep fakes will continue to loosen our grip on truth and reality
  • Identifying the use of media tech barriers such as filter bubbles, echo chambers, trolls and bots phenomena, political propaganda techniques, fake and manufactured news, cognitive semantics, neurolinguistic programming, corporate media consolidation, “post-truth era.”
  • The use of psychometrics, big data and psychological profiling and targeting in political campaigns around the world to undermine democracy.

Beware – media can be toxic! A handful of media corporations perpetuate spectacle-based tabloid entertainment news containing endless scandals, slander, saber rattling, and fear mongering for the sake of ratings and distraction. The entertainment, gaming and news industries normalize a dystopian view of reality — an enemy-centric, polarizing culture of fear, hate, mistrust which ultimately results in violence. Meanwhile, advertisers paint a picture of a perfect world that exists if you buy into an empty winner take all (literally) consumer culture all of which is creating more CO2 and mismanaged waste than the planet can bear.

Mainstream news and social media has also become hijacked by a Trojan horse of foreign interests, corrupt and weaponized information — propaganda, fake news, deployment of troll networks, bots, timed leaks and theft of political information — all to enable investment control in key economies for the sake of enrichment and increased power of a few.

The internet age is quickly evolving. Psychometrics are used by marketers and political campaigns for psychological profiling and targeting. Politicians and corporations deploy big data for micro targeting, using sophisticated psychographics (personality profiles and values that drive behavior and voting), behavioral science and communication. As of this writing, there are over 5,000 collected data points on every adult in US.

Decades of research in social and behavioral science, neural linguistics, marketing communications, history, and technology are being combined to form stealth technologies to undermine the masses for the highest bidding. Wise media discernment and consumption to identify and avoid psychological manipulation is needed.

With the help of AI algorithms, advertising is increasingly targeted and individualized. Troll networks, sophisticated operatives and provocateurs are attempting to shape the dialog our communities seek to engage in. Coordinated and well funded propaganda efforts undermining democracy are easily deployed on social media. All  technology is essentially benign, but in the wrong hands, media technology in particular can become a weaponized and Orwellian proposition. Vastly resourced commercial and political powers tend to control and corrupt communication networks for political, military or economic gain.

The future of gaming and virtual reality is also up for grabs. Gaming products primarily contain content that is violent and militaristic. VR for the most part will be a continuum of the gaming world, having the potential to further blur our states of reality and continue our disconnect from a mutually symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Our survival depends on the natural worlds’ inherent nourishment of our being, spirit and species.

Astroturfing are scripted narratives which are fabricated and controlled by special interests with so called experts or political pundits being selected to reflect the views of those interests to drive the perception of a social consensus and to create public opinion.The main tenet of astroturfing is to relay a false sense of consensus – that everyone agrees with the opinion being presented.  (climate science denial example)

A constant barrage of negative news causes overwhelm, denial and withdrawal. It does not offer a sense of vision, possibility or personal agency that one can change the system but rather it perpetuates a sense of helplessness and victimization. The current media paradigm does not build community but divides and isolates us. Negative news contains emotional contagions that have psychological consequences. All of this results in a spiritual and psychological malaise and a profound sense of hopelessness.

A media literate, citizens media movement that can rise above the noise will be instrumental in shining light on an abundance of regenerative solutions, healing the repeated wounds of disinformation, and repairing our social fabric.

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