I didn’t need David Icke or any other professional conspiracy nut to make me feel apprehensive toward the media, although they did later help me understand it better. My disrespectful relationship toward the media started in my teens. I was into Magic: The Gathering and other the collectible card games like Star Trek, later on I got acquainted with roleplaying games, and I hung out with the Warhammer crowd, even though I didn’t play it myself. Around the time I was fifteen our school held some sort of press week where all of the students were involved in media related projects. I, together with a friend, wrote a news article about Magic: The Gathering, where we explicitly mentioned it is not a roleplaying game, despite the common misconception that it was. The press chose our article as the best one, the main reason probably being we plagiarized half of it from a Finnish gaming magazine, although we didn’t see it as plagiarism since we had no idea what we should be doing and needed a model to help us produce anything at all. When our article was mentioned in the local news paper they mentioned Haukipesukone and Associate had produced the best article where they introduced the roleplaying game Magic: The Gathering. We were livid. We even had told out teacher that it is not an RPG, and she claimed she had told the press, yet this had happened.
From this incident I learned two things: to be successful in the media you can basically come up with any story, whether fabricated, plagiarized or simply wrong as long as it sounds good, and there’s no obvious way of getting caught. OK, I didn’t quite think like that at the time, but in hind-sight that observation is appropriate. The second lesson, the one we cared about, was that the media had completely missed or ignored the social commentary we were passionate about, i.e. Magic: The Gathering is not a roleplaying game!
Later on, whenever the media mentioned Magic, roleplaying games, Warhammer or anything relating to that sphere of experience, they made stupid mistakes, or simply sounded dumb. I remember thinking, as a teen, if the media cannot be trusted with getting the story right when it comes to fantasy games, how can we trust them in other issues? Alas, over 10 years later I would realize how right I was. Maybe if I got back to reading the butchered news stories that had annoyed me then, they’d at least have some redeeming qualities. Fantasy games are easier to understand than global politics, economics and all that, after all.
9/11 happened when I was nineteen. Around that time I didn’t know much about politics and the stuff they talk about on the news, but I had figured I should try to find out. I just didn’t know where to begin. 9/11 gave me the incentive to start following the news. Gradually I gained a better understanding of the world, yet of course, a rather limited one as the main stream media isn’t there to inform you. At least I can say it acted as a stepping stone to following real news years later.
In 2003 the US with the aid of Britain and some other countries invaded Iraq. I followed the war pretty closely on the TV rooting for the Iraqis hoping to see many Western soldiers dead. BBC World showed almost continuous footage from Iraq and I watched. Then the “suicide” of Dr. David Kelly happened. He was obviously murdered in order to cover up something, probably relating to the Iraq war, and possibly by someone in the British government. You really had to be quite dumb or dumbed down not to see it was a murder. I expected the BBC to figure it out also, I expected them to at least mention the possibility of murder. BBC was a respected news organization after all. There was no mention of murder, not on the BBC or on any other channel that I looked. I couldn’t fathom how couldn’t they see the obvious. Of course there wouldn’t be mention of it, but I was too naive to think the media actually cared about the truth. The whole incident left me disgusted and confounded, and made me weigh my sanity vs the sanity of the world.
As a teen, even before 9/11, I viewed the Islamic world to be backwards and boring, their only hope to embrace the democratic, materialistic ways of the West, as that was what I had been told in the media. I, of course, had had no experience with Islam nor hadn’t met any Muslims, and was generally fairly uninterested in the region they inhabit. I had been told to hate a people whom I knew nothing about, and I had had no reason to question it. It wasn’t a burning hatred, but rather a distant disdain filled with smug sense of false superiority. You know, the usual European liberal brew. However, since 9/11 the Islamic world had gained a much bigger role in the media, and in the beginning I had been afraid, hateful, suspicious, strangely accepting or whatever emotion they wanted to sell us, of Muslims. In the course of time, though, I came to realize how the media tries to makes us feel a particular way about them, and many other issues. I’m proud to say it was around the year 2006, before I was properly “awake”, that I came to realize how Iran was being systematically demonized, probably in order to give the US an excuse to attack them, should they so desire. It was quite simple actually, there are never any good news about Iran, with only focus on the bad stuff that happens there. It didn’t mean I began liking Iran, but nothing is so black and white as the way Iran was being portrayed. I don’t like being told what to feel.
Media treatment of Israel and the Zionist agenda was also something that made me see how manipulative the media is. However, I don’t have time to go into the Jewish issue here. It demands an individual post, or two.