Are Your Eyes Wide Open?

The media industry has always deeply fascinated me. In college at the University of Pittsburgh, I was a sponge for any and all challenging courses on the history, psychological, and sociological impacts of media and advertising. Mass Communications 101 in a lecture hall filled with 200 students wasn’t exactly earth-shattering enough for me. So, starting in my sophomore year, I took on as many graduate level courses as the school would allow me. (My academic advisor would joke that I was only a few credits and a dissertation paper away from getting a Master’s before I even got my undergrad degree.)

While other students groaned about writing papers, my eyes would light up with absolute glee!

Write a 15 page paper deconstructing a 1920s woman’s deodorant advertisement and their choice of images and text and its effects on gender norms.

“Pssh! Easy. Can I make it 20 pages?”

Taking a critical eye to things and studying how the media used subliminal psychological tactics to push products down consumers’ throats came easily to me. Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that my father is an accomplished writer and my mother a truly gifted artist. And as such, critical thinking and challenging one’s beliefs were part of my childhood. The expansion of the mind started at birth for me. My earliest childhood memories included huddling around the heater vent (my father kept the thermostat at a balmy 55 degrees in the middle of Pittsburgh winters) listening to my father tell intricately crafted stories with profound meanings, various philosophies, politics, and civil rights. To say they purposely exposed me at a young age to very intellectual conversations and debates is an understatement. I really am blessed to have two highly intelligent parents who instilled in me the importance of independent, critical, and creative thinking.

It’s no wonder I found myself working in advertising after I graduated from college. And for 12 years, I saw the manipulation firsthand. I became part of the beast known as the “digital space”. For 12 years, I represented platforms and their algorithms to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to the largest automotive manufacturers in the world.

I fully understand what’s behind the curtain in the digital space. I know what’s back there, and it’s interesting, to say the very least. But I always assumed people would take a critical eye on the things they were absorbing. Unfortunately, we’re now seeing the effects the digital world has on people’s ability to rationally think. It’s as if we handed over the keys to our brains to AI and are only now understanding the damage it can cause when you lose control of your own thought patterns.

Think of the media world (news, internet, tv/films, advertising, social media, etc…) as food. We all remember the food pyramid, yes? It’s been part of our education system for well over 2 decades now. Sugar and processed foods make up the top, smaller section. Protein, fruits, and vegetables are at the bottom of the pyramid as most important for a healthy lifestyle.

  • If we know our brains are like computers and we feed it the programs we wish to create thought patterns around, how on God’s green earth do we not have a “Media Pyramid” which is taught in every school?
  • How is it we do not have warning labels on the processed junk, bad for your brain content?
  • Is it time to include ratings next to content, similarly shown on all the shows and films we watch?

We know what to limit in our food diet for a healthy body and yet we continue to feed our mind junk food? It’s absolutely baffling to me! And it’s not due to lack of evidence. We have decades’ worth of research outlining how media consumption quite literally changes our brain patterns. And yet, we still hand phones to 10-year-olds and/or wonder why we as adults feel more depressed and battle anxiety? Humans are truly their own worst enemy, without a doubt.

Your thoughts dictate your reality. So, for example, if you’re constantly ingesting negative, frightening news, your world as you see it will be negative and frightening. It’s very similar to eating at McDonald’s every day. We know how bad it is for our health and how it causes obesity and a sleuth of other physical problems. Think of media in very similar terms. Thankfully, awareness is increasing as more and more high-profile analyses and documentaries have been released on the effects of social media in particular.

The Wall Street Journal released “Facebook Files,” which is an absolute bombshell of investigative journalism at its finest into how the largest social media giant has known its negative impact on mental health and has completely ignored it.

In fact, the findings are so damning Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, told the Journal,

“Facebook seems to be taking a page from the textbook of Big Tobacco — targeting teens with potentially dangerous products while masking the science in public.”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican, tweeted,

“Big Tech has become the new Big Tobacco. Facebook is lying about how their product harms teens.”

This is the first time social media has been in the same sentence as the bad wolf “Big Tobacco”.

So why continue to feed human beings junk food for their brains, knowing the major impact it has on our mental and emotional well-being?

ADVERTISING.

Advertising fuels everything in our world. The reason media outlets solely report on “gloom and doom” is because they need clicks and engagement in order to sell advertising. There’s a well-known phrase in journalism which is “If it bleeds, it leads”. This is nothing new. However, with the advent of social media, the news media has only amplified the “sky is falling” stories in order to compete.

Ever hear anyone (or maybe yourself) say, “The world is going to shit”?

It’s really not. It’s just that you’re being fed that storyline for advertising dollars. The more sensationalized the story, the more eyeballs they capture, which in turn equals $$$. The media, as a whole, is counting on the fact that you have turned off your critical thinking skills so they can manipulate your thought patterns. They KNOW humans inherently have negative bias and they play right into that.

Sounds scary? That’s because it is. Most people do not realize the information they absorb into their brain and its effects on how they see the world, how they process emotions, and what thoughts become “facts”.

When you eat junk food, you see the scale go up, right? When you absorb junk, negative information, you don’t necessarily see the effects of it, unless you are aware of the correlation between what you read/watch and how it affects your thoughts and emotions. That takes critical thinking. Your brain does not do that automatically. Your brain is automatically LAZY.

Does that mean all journalists are bad? No, of course not. My father is a journalist and has kept his journalistic integrity for over 40 some odd years. But that’s not to say that he doesn’t battle with his editors on what they WANT to publish. It’s not up to the journalists. It’s the media companies which dictate what they want their readers to see.

You can blame social media or the news or any other source for failing us in our mental and emotional well-being. But ultimately, YOU downloaded the app. YOU clicked on the article. No one has a gun to your head telling you to absorb junk food into your brain.

So are you saying I should quit social media, Kira?

No.

What I’m saying is you need to employ your critical thinking skills.

In the digital advertising world, people we target ads to are called “users”. Guess what other group is called “users”? Yes, it’s SUPPOSED TO BE addictive. That’s the point, so you stay on the platform for as long as possible to entice advertisers to spend money. Algorithms change on a monthly basis with users completely unaware of how it’s AFFECTING them. The internet is a black box. The FCC does not govern the internet like they do the phone companies or public television. Media corporations will do anything they want in order to secure dollars for their stockholders. That is truly all that matters to them, which is why Facebook could give two shits about your or your kids’ mental and emotional well-being. Keep in mind this goes for Google, TikTok, CNN, FoxNews, etc… They are ALL in the business to make MONEY. Your well-being is YOUR responsibility.

So what do we do?

Everything in moderation. You are in control of how you want your life to look, how you want to feel on a daily basis. Those patterns you create in your brain come from what you decide to watch/read.

  • Do you think it’s time to examine how you spend your time on the internet?
Follow this Media Pyramid for Better Brain Health

Social media usage is changing RAPIDLY.

Here’s What I See Happening:

  • We’re on the other side of the social media craze. More and more prominent artists are publically quitting social media, which has only increased the awareness of its negative effects on well-being. I believe we’re going to see a rise in this counter-culture, where NOT having a presence on social media will be the new alternative scene.
  • People are leaving Instagram in droves due to sheer exhaustion and boredom (college students are writing opinion pieces for school papers, stating how irrelevant Instagram has become, to the point where it doesn’t even deserve the energy needed to kill it off. Ouch!) And it’s been a well-known fact for many years now that Facebook is the old person’s social media.
  • TikTok has emerged as the leader in the pack… for now. But like the others, it too will evolve as the “newness” will wear off.
  • There is a direct correlation between the increase of advertisements on the platforms with the decrease of engagement. This means as the platforms push more ads, people log off. More advertising means less of a community feel, which is exactly what people are desperately seeking.
  • Instead of mass reach, social media and its users will look for smaller, tight-knit online communities. The explosion of newsletters has really shone a light on this.
  • The ever-changing rules have officially worn out users for what they can and can not post. So much so that they are moving over to platforms like Discord and Telegram to create a more intimate and secure community.
  • Underground, “pre-social media” alternatives will rise as more people find happiness and fulfillment away from the ADD-like effects of the platforms. Advertisers are going to be looking at very niche, unobtrusive ways to reach this growing audience who are on the fence or have jumped off of social media. COVID has increased our awareness of how valuable time really is. And thank God for that realization before it truly is too late.

Feeling depressed or anxious? Check your search history. Become HYPER-aware of what you choose to use social media and the internet for. Your mental and emotional well-being depends on it.

You can ingest junk and spit it back out onto social media. Or you can use social media as a tool to enrich your life, not deplete it. Since I don’t want to turn my brain into mush, I try to use social media in a limited capacity and only to gain something beneficial for me as an individual. I also try to open people’s minds a bit on various posts such as this one below:

This created a firestorm from women who claimed I must not have met their ex’s, mothers/fathers, siblings, etc… But I answered each one with respectful responses. Some agreed with me and others refused to even remotely entertain a new challenging thought.

Why do I engage or have conversations with perfect strangers?

Because even if they think I’m completely wrong, it went into their subconscious. For some of them, that will manifest itself to read more about the negative impact labeling has on people and how destructive it truly is. Plus, it’s a sign of intelligence to hold two opposing opinions in your mind at the same time.

I say this because words matter. What you put on your social media feed impacts people who read/watch it. I’m not saying you have to take on the role as advisor on all things in life. But become more aware of the content you spew out there. Social media is whatever you want it to be. If you dislike the discord happening on it, look in the mirror and change YOUR actions first.

Did You Know?

  • SSRIs (anti-depressants, anxiety medication) can lower your sex drive for BOTH men and women.

Well-known side effects of SSRI medication is impotence in men. But these medications can also affect women by lowering their sex drive.

The increase in SSRI prescriptions for men and women may cause some confusion in the bedroom and possibly unnecessary arguments. Talking about sex is important for all partners to engage in, whether it’s a new fling or a long-term relationship. Before taking something personally, ask. Gain clarity on the situation without allowing your irrational fears and emotions to get the better of you.

Unfortunately, many men use the side effects of SSRIs as an excuse not to take them. Mental health comes above all else, and there are ways you can boost your sex drive even on SSRIs.

I personally take Zoloft and have for many years. I noticed a few years ago my sex drive declining from the medication. So instead of having a meltdown like a 2 yr old, I decided to be an adult and take responsibility for my health. I did a ton of research and found that Maca root increases libido and has been used in cooking and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. (Amazing how nature truly provides all that we need.)

I noticed a tremendous difference when I added Maca root vitamins into my daily regime. My sex drive (which is particularly high) is back to the level it was pre-Zoloft.

I’ve been taking Maca root for years now and highly recommend it to anyone who feels they’ve lost a bit of mojo in the bedroom.

I bring this up because my best friend was telling me yesterday about her concerns with a new guy she’s dating and his troubles in the bedroom. He told her he takes medication for anxiety, which, as we know, can cause impotence in men. She told me she wasn’t sure about him as the sex component was important for her (and is, for most, if not all, relationships). I told her to hold up on ending things before they even truly begin and suggest to him Maca root. No reason to allow something that can be fixed to ruin what could be a great relationship.

So if you are reading this and feel your sex drive has been declining for whatever reason, I strongly recommend checking out Maca root.

Would You Rather?

Would you rather walk in on your parents or have your parents walk in on you?

Um, well, I’ve had both happen and they’re equally horrifying. My parents don’t know this (that is, until now, since they both subscribe to my newsletter) but I walked in on them when I was around 8 years old. Ruined my life. Why do you think I’m on Zoloft?

But I will say, if you have a good relationship with your parent (s), them walking in on you can be hilarious. For example, my mom walked in on me a few years ago, and we’re able to laugh about it. (Even though secretly, it’s still pretty cringey for me.)

The best part is instead of walking in and saying “Sorry” and walking back out, my mom stood in the doorway and proceeded to have a conversation with me! Ugh! It’s literally the thing of nightmares.

Make Humor Great Again

Two men broke into a drugstore and stole all the Viagra. The police put out an alert to be on the lookout for the two hardened criminals.

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Kira Mamula

Kira Mamula

I’m a writer and life guru with a head full of wisdom, knowledge, and experience on how to thrive in this thing called life. I believe in humanity.