The Negative Zone

Jared Gimbel
March 23, 2014
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One significant engine of the world’s problems in many regards has been the transformation of news media into a form of entertainment. In too many cases, news no longer seeks to inform, but rather it seeks to be seen, to be replicated until thousands of Internet users see it.

To that end, an editorial or even a news story can use the faultiest and the most obscene of logic just for the sake of getting noticed. Looking at American Jewry and how their perceptions of other places are fed by attention-seekers, I struggle to find the noble ideal in having such a system of “knowledge.” Stories not only seek to get noticed, but also seek to get copied, pasted, shared—seeking to be replicated for its own sake is similar to the mindset of a cancer cell.

It is often very difficult to comprehend that most of the world’s problems, including this problem with today’s media, are caused by those seeking to make the world a better place—a constant throughout history.

Wars, conquests, and genocides all fit into this category, and thankfully this era, while very difficult in its own regards, has had a fuller realization of peace and prosperity throughout the world. It is far from perfect, but maybe the coming generations will surprise us, much like this generation has surprised those of the previous ones.

Thinking back to the same ideology that led the Assyrians to conquer much of the known world, that led the colonial empires of Europe to expand, and the numerous wars in past generations, there is a shocking relevance to this problem: the idea of making the whole world a Kingdom of God.

What does this have to do with mass media?

Because media, as many people see it, is necessary to “stay informed”, and ideas such as God, and Godly perfection, are similarly conflated with knowledge.

God is knowledge, God is truth—this is one way that He is commonly perceived. A corollary: God is staying informed, something that news always strives to do, and one reason why it remains popular. The number of people who have mentioned something about the importance of staying informed is too large for me to reasonably count.

However, I do fear that sometimes it turns into the opposite: the idea of getting people to stay in their own spheres, solidifying myths and falsehoods, and keeping people in a world of darkness.

Perhaps despite all of the scaremongering and angry commentators in today’s media, there is a noble intention behind it: the idea of actually getting people to ponder the world and getting people to care. After all, it is easier to see a world where knowledge is free and accessible as a desirable one.

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Jared Gimbel is the founder of “Present Presence,” an initiative devoted to fostering positive images of communities throughout the Jewish Diaspora to North American and Israeli Audiences. He is currently a Masters Degree Candidate at Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg, and has been a Jewish community activist while living in the United States, Israel, Poland, Sweden and Germany. Jared has served as a tour guide, editor and translator at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Cracow, and was also a fellow at the Paideia Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. In 2011 he wrote his Bachelor’s thesis on non-human species in European mythologies, and his upcoming Masters’ Thesis focuses on perspectives and portrayals of Jewish Life in Finland and in Greece. When he’s not working, he enjoys collecting pop music from many different countries, and is always in the process of learning a new language.

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