For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


The Function of Cynicism in the Media

October 17th, 2010

media-logo-designs.jpgCynicism, that sneering, questioning voice among voices, has always and will always be a part of humanity. From the Greek philosophers to the 1960s love generation to the stars of contemporary media, questioning authority and finding fault with systems has been the coal that fuels debate, the darker nay-saying rebellion of conspiracy thinkers and often the fodder for despair. Indignant and antithetical to the status quo, cynicism, though ugly, serves a higher purpose, whether it be in the arena of philosophy, religion, politics or socio-economics.

Many say this “glass half-empty” outlook is a detriment to progress on both personal and group levels. Pessimists, doomsday predictors, and anti-establishment oriented individuals, all may be viewed as weighing us down, perhaps even counteracting that most ephemeral locomotion toward achievement such as the magical flow of good karma found in “The Secret.” But really on both the personal and societal levels, it is only natural to be cynical, at least on a temporary basis. As a constant state, cynicism becomes utter grief, not what we as a world strive for. On a personal level, constant cynicism would inevitably lead to depression. But for a time, cynicism is useful. It phases us into solutions by creating a deeper counterweight and like a Trebuchet catapult, propels us toward those most happy of goals we wish to reach.

Personal cynicism serves a purpose and though not all of us have ever subscribed to it, many experience it in our early adulthood when the vestiges of our youth, our idealism, clash with a world that appears hard, unforgiving and at times irrational. With maturity we learn to mesh those ideals with the real world. Cynicism allows us through dialectic to learn what we want out of life, by voicing what we don’t want out of life. The degree to which this happens varies according to the level of idealism one embraces as they grow up as well as the level to which one has been, thus far, protected from the harsh realities of real life. This is particularly a key balance for those with an adventurous spirit, the soul seekers, the wanderers, those who want to see what else there is, beyond the path worn by their parents as example.

Where personal and societal cynicism meet is in the media. There we are barraged with personalities magnified by the size of their audiences. No matter which channel you prescribe to, CNN, Fox, BBC and so on, each has their cynic. There the cynical individual has found a platform, their place in the macrocosm, the “family” if you will, of their country and their world. This is the battlefield where the cynics will shine most supremely as they emerge with a level of cynicism spawned by their own imposition of “family” onto politics and the world. Shouldn’t the world be as loving, they ask, as a family unit. While no one will argue that it shouldn’t, of course, that’s even what the masters of the religions taught, such an expectation is simplistic in an ever more complex world.

To expect their standards of youthful idealism to be embraced at this level is unrealistic. To actively reach for them, however, breeds an evolution to a greater plateau of understanding. To apply one’s own hand, to work toward it, while engaging with the world one finds their footing, their balance of idealism and realism. At this point cynicism may dissipate, or it may disseminate, but either way, cynicism is a voice we shall always hear and shall always need.

This article was supplied by Anton Herridge from Constant Content.

One Response to “The Function of Cynicism in the Media”

  1. comment number 1 by: Ireland5

    Excellent article…cynicism must come to all as a process of evolving from our teenage years through to adulthood. With adulthood, however, most learn to balance the half-empty and half-full glass and evaluate situations and information through both optimism and cynicism. Some don’t make it to the other side…are these the people who become the talking heads of TV land? Um…

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