While I have been "in-between careers" for a few years, I have been doing substitute school teaching grades six through twelve. I have had plenty of interesting experiences, and have learned so much about the soon coming generation of adults. I would like to now talk about one very surprising experience I had recently. I was substituting a tenth grade history class in a lower middle class area. The class and I got into a discussion regarding the question of how we can know what is historically true. During the discussion, one student said, "we can learn a lot about what is true from TV shows and the movies." I asked for some specific names of shows and movies, and he named off a few shows that were fictional, such as "X-Files," and "Star Trek," and then named off some off-the-wall fiction that he thought was really true. I could not believe it. If he and the class were not so serious, I would have thought this was a joke. I then said, "surely, you don't think that EVERY show and movie is true, do you? How about "Toy Story?" Do you think that all toys move and talk to each other when no humans are around?" He said, "why not." Then, a girl on the other side of the room said, "my Ken and Barbie dolls have moved together by themselves before." Believe it or not, not one student was grinning or giggling. I used to be a big joker in school, so I usually could spot others when I see them. Could children (or even adults) be that brainwashed by the entertainment medium? I am becoming more and more convinced that this is so.
There seems to have been a gradual elimination of the usage of basic logic and the acceptance of paradoxical thinking in the United States, and seemingly the rest of the world. Paradoxical thinking is where someone is able to hold two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time about a certain aspect of reality without recognizing the tension between the contradictory beliefs. A common paradoxical way of thinking is where a Christian goes to church on Sunday and truly believes that God created the world in six days, and then spends the rest of the week believing that the Earth and all of life has been evolving for billions of years. Both cannot be true at the same time, yet people find the strangest ways to defend holding such beliefs at the same time.
Without the use of basic logic, people are resorting to letting others decide everything for them. As a substitute teacher who sees up to seven hundred students a week, I have seen countless times when students cannot even form a complete thought out loud, let alone put it in writing. One time I had an assignment where I gave the class eight options, and they had to pick five of them to do. This almost caused a panic among a lot of the students. Many of them begged me to pick for them, but I refused. I tried to connect the idea of making the choices to something like the idea of choosing toppings for a pizza. One normally does not pick ALL the toppings. That helped a few, but not most of them. I then told them that one way to choose is to decide which would be the five easiest ones to do for them. I still had to actually talk it through with a few students individually to get them to be able to compare the choices at all. This was not just the normal apathy one would expect in school. Also, this was an English class made up of eleventh and twelfth graders!
I don't think that anyone would disagree with the influence a teacher
or leader has on the thoughts of other people. It is human nature for all
of us to believe in the words of those we respect, regardless of whether
or not we are given evidence for these beliefs. We unconsciously tend to
respect those we look up to, admire, are older, or think are smarter than
we are. My
Myth of Being Open-Minded article covers this concept in greater detail. This is also the same reason people tend to blindly believe what they see on TV or in the movies.
Another reason for this blindness is that we tend to be influenced by what we are most exposed to. I, like many other children, had the TV to baby-sit me as I grew up. I got my comfort and companionship from the TV. The TV became my friend, just as it has for billions of people in the world. Like the fictional character, Fox Mulder on the X-Files says, "I want to believe," so say those who watch him. Look on the internet and see the literal shrines set up for him and nearly every actor in the movies or on TV. For most people, movies and television IS THEIR LIFE! Reality testing becomes harder to do when one is so influenced by shows that one really enjoys. I used to argue with a "Trekkie" who believed so strongly in the philosophies from the Star Trek shows, that it was exactly like talking to a religious cult figure. In fact, did you know that one of the people from the "Heaven's Gate" cult who committed suicide was brother to one of the original cast members of Star Trek? I see students and people in general that are lacking more and more in their ability to be a good judge of character regarding nearly everything.
Well, I suppose I will be adding more to my thoughts about this subject in the future as I continue to think about it. The next section will deal with some of the teachings I see being taught in specific shows and movies, that I think are completely bypassing most people's reality testing and logic. Feel free to e-mail me about any teachings that you think I missed and should add, or maybe even tell me about a show or movie I don't include that would be a good example. I will be adding more as time goes along. I thought that just getting this online as is was important enough.
Note: Just because I find problems with these movies and shows does not mean that I did not enjoy watching them. They are very entertaining as fiction.