Controlling Perspective

A simple way of describing the events that have been brewing towards climax in Ferguson is controversy. But we are not simple creatures, nor is this a simple matter. What I am not going to do is tell you my opinion and tell you why you are wrong or right in what you believe or feel. There seems to be plenty of that going around. If this is what you want to hear, you’re not going to get it. I am hoping what you get is something much more valuable.

Perspective is a fragile concept. It shapes how we as humans funnel our emotions and look upon our daily lives. It creates us, gives us growth, and can, most importantly, change us. The most difficult part about perspective is that it can come in many various forms. Everyone you meet has a different perspective due to the different lives they have led. I’m not going to lie, it is hard to accept and recognize this, because at the end of the day you only worry about what effects you and keeps you alive. It is instinct, and not an easy thing to change or even recognize.

Again, this is not an opportunity to express my opinion and try to drive you towards an idea that I feel is important as far as Ferguson is concerned. I won’t do this, because I don’t feel I have the appropriate perspective for it at this time.  My opinion is still in great need of education. The education part is the problem. Education should be based in fact and reliability, but it is difficult to find that when there is so much bias littering the field. Instead I will tell you about my own perspective concerning another matter. I want to tell you why I decided to not become a journalist when I was fifteen.

We as a nation were reeling from the tragedy that was the Columbine shootings. It was a terrible time to be a teenager and a student. We were shown that we weren’t safe in school, and that bullying had reached a whole new level. I, a budding journalist, wanted to do my part in bringing out the truth, and I watched the news religious for information. The media was using all of its efforts to profile the shooters and make some kind of sense for the rest of the country. A local news station decided to use a tactic that is all too familiar in the world that is journalism. It is a concept known as “spin.” I was taught this as well in my journalism classes. Hell you may have come across it in your earlier English courses in high school. It is the very tactic that makes up a persuasive essay. Opinions are not to be specified directly, but you are allowed to drive the audience to whatever destination you wish.

It took only one television news report to destroy any hope of me becoming a professional journalist. I officially didn’t want to be a part of it anymore when a local television news team interviewed awaiting fans for a Marilyn Manson concert that was happening in Indianapolis that night. The media had made it very clear that in several earlier reports that the shooters were fans of the singer as well. They interviewed the fans and asked them their opinions concerning the recent shooting. Most of them were teenagers, the eldest probably being in their early twenties. The majority looked as one would expect from a group of Marilyn Manson fans, very into black and eyeliner. Essentially, everything they look like in that moment only represents a fashion choice. It won’t tell the stories of their souls and beings.

Most of these kids expressed their support for the victims and shock over the tragedy. One by one, the reporter moved down the line of people. When enough were interviewed, the reporter turned to the camera and finished his report. He didn’t comment on the concern and support he just heard, he utilized spin instead. He discussed what kind of individuals the shooters were and then stated that they were just like the kids behind him and all other fans of Marilyn Manson. That statement was outrageous to those who know better, but subtle enough to sound like truth. I, myself enjoyed Marilyn Manson’s music at the time, and according to the statement he just made, I also became most likely to enact a school shooting. Dreams of journalism died at that point.

The majority of you are either ridiculing me for this outrageous conclusion or shocked to ever think I could compare myself to that. These are absolutely great responses and what I expect. These reactions do, however, weigh heavily with the knowledge of knowing me. Those that have this knowledge of me, know that I am truly not capable of this. That knowledge effects your perspective. What about the other readers that do not know me? They don’t have the luxury of that knowledge and are simply left with the facts stated that I am a Marilyn Manson fan and according to that news report I could be a suspect one day.

This, my friends, is what news has come to with the added bonus of social media allowing it to reach farther than it could have ever hoped. The news does report news, but it has no problem tweaking it for its own gain. We can’t blame the news for this either. It has become the nature of the beast. Once upon a time, the news existed without ratings or fear of competion. That time was the final time we received unbiased news that we could fully trust without question. When ratings became the heart of news casting, pointing out who was being watched more, it opened the door to allow in money, and that became the biggest voice where news was concerned. No one has a job unless people are watching or reading, and that is the life blood of the news. It has become its survival. All they need for you to do is show up. All they need is bait.

A great example of “spin” is from this past Halloween season. A sixteen year-old collapsed and died while in a haunted house. Every headline for this story was some variation of “girl dies in haunted house.” The news was betting on you, the reader, assuming that the haunted house killed the girl, and you would show up to find out more. What happened to this poor girl was that she suffered from several medical conditions and lived on borrowed time as it was. It was merely coincidence that she passed away while inside of a haunted house. All of the reports state this exactly that, once you read or listen to the rest of the story. Sometimes people don't read past the headline, and that is simply doing a great injustice to one's self. This is what controlling perspective means.

Whatever you are watching or reading, understand that perspective is important. Not everything you read will be false or is trying to lead you somewhere. Unfortunately, you have to have the knowledge to understand the difference. If you take anything from this post, please take this. You, and only you, have the power to choose and change your perspective, and that ultimately makes only you responsible for that perspective. So choose wisely my friends and try to continue to educate yourselves.