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TimeLine - Signs of the Times

SIGNS in the Media:
Our TV Life Experience
& Global Control of Information

PERCEPTION of the reality you live has EVERYTHING to do with the future. If you are misinformed or in some way detached from reality, then how can you consider truth?

To be as savvy as those who 'works' information to their advantage requires perception, even a bit of skepticism, certainly critical thinking, and discernment. These are the tools required to fend off a cynical outlook and to keeping one's eyes and ears wide open.

The following quotation may sound a bit strong. Examine a point you've probably never considered before now.

... George Gerber, a former dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, has calculated that the average American child sees 40,000 murders on TV by age 18–without having to experience, or therefore begin to comprehend, the personal impact of any of them on anyone. Gerber, who fled to the United States to escape the fascists in World War II, describes this desocializing effect of TV as another form of fascism. Similarly, it has been estimated that the average American sees 150,000 commercial advertisements on TV during his or her lifetime–most of them very disarming and entertaining invitations to more consumption offered not by parents or friends who have the viewer's well being in mind, but by corporations that are often as large as countries.

... Media-savvy customers learned to be both skeptical about what they hear and cynical about the motives of the people or institutions doing the mediating. At the same time, both reporters and their readers seem fascinated by the battle to control the world's information technologies, infrastructures, and organizations. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 165

We've handed our minds over to the ad agencies and make assumptions about our safety or personal-material needs. But these are projections from the media to which we are exposed. Exactly to what are you exposed?

... There is an implicit faith that if a product is for sale, it's safe. A similar faith pervades our acceptance of information. We know there are a few people in public life who tell lies, but these are scandalous or criminal exceptions to the general rule that if it's printed, there must be something to it. Sex, violence, and profanity are the fat, cholesterol, and sodium of information: we say we want them labeled, but we keep consuming them without restraint. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 167

What catches your attention? What is your information appetite? And once captivated are you 'consumer putty' in someone else's 'marketing hands?' Foresight and gaining a long range perspective are quickly neutralized in a sound-byte, quick-fix world. How much of what is advertised today is designed in attaining a sustainable world? Not much! Most of consumerism is geared to instant gratification. No wonder you have so little information on the ominous nature of immense global changes. No one need remind you when they have something else to sell.

All the major information and services have their attitudes–their artificial stimulants and other ingredients designed to addict, satiate, or manipulate.
- the sensational over the analytical (excitement over thought)
- the sudden over the gradual (incidents over trends)
- The immediate over the long-term (the present over a decade or a century from now)
- the narrow view over the broad (expertise over perspective)
- growth over stability (youth over experience)
- consumption over sustainability (gratification over health)
- the temporary over the permanent (liquidation over reinvestment).

Among the main categories of information sources, commercial news is by no means the largest in total volume of information in most countries, and for many people it may be one of the smallest. But since it's the one that seems most widely presumed to be committed to an "objective" picture of events, it warrants a closer look. How does the news rate on these biases?

In all news media, the competition for audience skews selection of content in favor of the sensational ("If it bleeds, it leads") and the sudden (to get yesterdays audience back today, you have to show something that happened last night). Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 167, 168

The current global culture is now so attuned to rapid short segments of information. We all risk being fragmented into the unknowing masses.

Building the larger picture means putting the information snippets into a larger array and stepping back to take in the whole meaning.


How effective are the snippets we are given in those commercial messages? And is commercialism the only source that uses the sound-byte approach? What about the nightly news! Everybody is doing it! We all lose vital connections to reality when the media cut us short and leave us with misleading impressions.

... The shortening of attention spans is caused in part by these tendencies toward quicker, narrower, more sensational coverage to begin with, and further exacerbated by the interruptions of commercials, which themselves put an even greater premium on the use of quick impressions. Thus, the news medium feeds a vicious cycle: the more successfully a 15-second message can manipulate your perceptions, beliefs, or desires, the higher the price it brings (whether as news or as advertising), and as the price gets higher, the message carrier has to perform that manipulation even more intensively, or competitively, in order to achieve the behavioral responses–your purchasing, voting, sending money, or turning on that channel again–required to justify the price of production.

But the shortening of attention is also driven by the acceleration of change, because if the perception of time is affected by the amount of change, then something ten years in the future is as difficult to think about or plan for now as something a century or two in the future may once have been. Why plan for what you can't anticipate? This inclination to focus on living now, not later, provides an accommodating medium for advertising, promotion, and PR, and for the high consumption they encourage.

Now, consider how this pervasive bias acts on our perception of the four spikes and their interactions. The illustrations that follow or from recent years (or days, as this is written), but the past is the bow that looses the arrow of the future. You can be sure of this: extreme weather is coming to your area soon; strange insects or diseases are coming too; the more people are coming; and either more shortages of water and other resources or painfully higher prices, if you're spared the shortages, are coming as well. The question is whether your message carriers will manage to skew the information so that you don't realize its immensity until it's too late to respond optimally–or even to respond at all. I say "manage," because while some of the skewing is inherent in the biases described above, much of it results from a premeditated exploitation of those biases.

- Is the news of the spikes sensational? No. It's about an invisible gas that's always been in the air and that is harmless to breathe. An unobservable disappearance of plants and animals, ... An increase in population that's visible only in the form of gradually mounting annoyance about other issues that are connected to it ... As for heavy consumption, it's visible enough, but so pervasive in rich countries that it's seen as entirely normal. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 169, 170

The point to keep in mind is that we've been stroked to absorb information in short cycles. This works in the marketing and news letting in daily life but it's what has us missing the bigger issues associated with global change. And as noted above, much of change seems unrecognized and elsewhere what we do see is considered part of the norm.

- Is the news of the spikes sudden?
... from the standpoint of geological or evolutionary time, these are extremely sudden.
... The liquidation of the planet's resources is like the use of gas in a car, which has become perhaps the most paradigmal form of consumption: A car goes just as fast when its tank is only one-eighth full as when it was full. If you don't pay attention to the gauge, you may drive blithely along until the car stops. The most critical case of such a full-until-empty orientation is the consumption of fresh water, which in much of the world now exceeds rainfall recharge. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 171

What after all is the point? The preceding quotations and ideas presented here are geared to catch your attention for one reason. Global change is occurring, but we've somehow assimilated the ongoing nature of this into a life style that is absorbed in its own indulgences. The way we get information today has essentially uncoupled us from reality. Meanwhile, reality is creeping in all around us.

The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.

Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!

Quotations attributed to 'Ayers' are from: Ed Ayers. 1999. God's Last Offer - Negotiating for a Sustainable Future. Published by: Four Walls Eight Windows (

Mr. Ayers is the Editor of World Watch magazine, a product of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C. The institute is a 'think tank' that often puts out publications that note change in the world theater from the perspectives of economics, policy, resource uses, and the potential for global trends based on past and current human activity. This is a secular institution and the title of Mr. Ayers' book makes no special reference to a particular theological framework.

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