Camcorder and 2 spotlights with Fresnel lenses in the interior. Shooting an interview. Photo: iStock
Camcorder and 2 spotlights with Fresnel lenses in the interior. Shooting an interview. Photo: iStock

The media spotlight shines on certain topics and people by selection. While someone or something is considered important and therefore highlighted, others are disregarded and not in the media spotlight, and even those enjoying the limelight soon fall into oblivion, replaced by another.

One might ask: “Why is that relevant?” But isn’t it more interesting to ask: “Why is something relevant?” The selection criteria decision-makers use, based on what they consider important, unveil their lens and ideological background.

Grotesquely, when talking with people from various bubbles and realities, I am often confronted by even graduates who surprisingly think the Fukushima issue is resolved, just because it’s barely in the media spotlight. Why so? Many feel informed and educated by the media they follow, wherefore they tend to think, when not reading, hearing, seeing anything about Fukushima any more, that the issue must have been eliminated.

Why do people fall for this fallacy? Arguably, it’s the power of pictures and people’s tendency only to take for real what they see with their own eyes. While covering and highlighting certain topics and people, the spotlight cast on selected issues and people is also creating something that can be called The Shadow of the Media Spotlight.

Some may argue: “The media are highlighting only what the people are into in an effort to confront the public with it, raising pressure on decision-makers to find solutions for the highlighted problem. So it’s good to have a media spotlight.”

But if that’s the reason for the media focusing on certain issues while neglecting others, why not cover burning issues like the Fukushima nuclear disaster daily to keep people’s focus on it? Observably the media have their favorite topics they belabor, while many burning issues are neglected quickly, or are taboo from the start.

Take Fukushima, an under-highlighted ongoing nuclear disaster with global impact on the environment and the food chain, as an example for what’s happening likewise in so many fields, including politics.

Observably only some are in the media spotlight day in, day out, for example politicians, experts, anchors with their “invaluable” opinions – often sold as facts – that is, exaggeratedly covered leaders, absorbing most of the media’s attention with their everyday reality, their bubble respectively. Sure, everyone lives in a bubble – except some whose personalities are developed enough to live in multiple bubbles, switching between their different realities, and making extra effort to get out of their own bubble to have exchange with other people and bubbles.

Leaders are in the media spotlight; no problem with that, if only they would solve the people’s problems. But it’s problematic if leaders, while absorbing most of the media’s attention, seemingly only tackle problems euphemistically in an effort to pamper themselves and those within their bubble, while instrumentalizing the media in vilifying as populists those who address people’s issues, for bluntly bringing them to the table. It is not the fact that populists name the people’s problems that is the problem, but the people’s problems themselves. Politicians who don’t solve the people’s problems but see the populists as the main problem to solve are problematic themselves.

Generally speaking, those only sticking with others in their own bubble, confirming (verifying) their own position, are easily considered as saturated ideologues, not exposed to other views and opinions, or if they are, readily dismissing them as false, propaganda, conspiracy theories, while considering dangerous those who address real issues.

Is there a correlation between the establishment’s loss of power and the exaggerated defamation of other opinions and views as false, propaganda and conspiracy theories? There wouldn’t be much motivation for defamation if the establishment in its proclaimed power weren’t wavering and being strongly challenged by the contrasting information a growing clientele is enjoying.

Those exposed to other people’s bubbles with different everyday realities live up to the falsification principle the Austrian-British philosopher Sir Karl Popper introduced to science for the sake of scientific progress, to this day reluctantly applied within science itself, as peer-reviewing isn’t sufficient.

Whether it’s science, politics or media, whichever community, those within their bubble share a certain reality of life with certain views, opinions and problems, based on common axioms (dogmas) they agree on, or otherwise they are expelled from the bubble. Politicians and certain experts invited to panels represent a certain reality of life, a reality of the well-off, a bubble contrasting starkly with the rarely invited to whom these experts scarcely are exposed, but sophisticatedly speak about.

This homogenically shared reality of life is based on self-verification, in stark contrast to Popper’s falsification principle, once introduced to the scientific community to combat the verification principle entrenched in science, whereupon many still try to prove their own research, sticking together, without striving to find ways to prove themselves wrong (falsification/fallibilism), neglecting to leave their own bubble to explore and visualize their blind spots.

Pointedly put, those in the media and those invited by media elites barely talking with the people but instead about the people, who hardly get any media spotlight, share a reality of life and absorb most of the media’s attention, via which creating a societal climate of detachment of the elites from the people. So the people’s growing impression of 5% extreme profiteers of globalist policies talking media-effectively about the 95% hardly profiting from globalization gets reversed by those 5% profiteers enjoying most of the media’s attention while propagating and painting the following bizarre picture: Only a few people don’t profit from globalization.

So as not to assume manipulative intent of those aforementioned leaders, experts, and anchors, identifiable is a strongly biasing bubble-induced effect on the psyche of those experts, politicians, corporate and media elites, mostly not exposed to people outside their own bubble but verifying busily their own views and statements within their reality of life, their bubble, that they share with their fellow caste members.

Despite individuals’ educational levels and successes, their displayed inability to walk in other people’s shoes, to think in others’ bubbles and therefore understand other people’s realities of life, exposes their missing sensitivity, empathy and willingness to think outside of their boxes, highlighting an entrenched ignorance of the powerful.

Immanuel Fruhmann

Dr. Dr. phil. Immanuel Fruhmann is an Austrian philosopher and educationist specialized in philosophy of science and language, cultural and social philosophy, as well as adult education, with years of experience in analysis of geopolitics and giving philosophical and educational insights to the public. He is psychotherapist in training and works as coach and consultant as well as writer. Fruhmann is a Knight of the Order of St George, a European Order of the Imperial House of Habsburg-Lorraine,...