Posted by: stephanieessin | October 8, 2014

Get Out of My Brain! The Amygdala Dilemma in Media Constructed Reality to Promote the Societal Status Quo

The text cites several studies that conclude the Internet, though rich in diverse user-generated content, still eventually reinforces the status quo, or the idealized social structure (p. 41). Keeping in mind that the media is a distorted mirror of reality (p. 3) as gatekeeper’s decide what goes into the media based upon their own preexisting prepositions, (p. 35), to what extent do people have control over their own reality?

Some may argue that with the implementation of hashtags and other media filters such as search engines, that we can tailor our feeds to best reflect reality, taking out the “inaccurate” content. However, if our brains are indeed drawn to things that activate the amygdala (p. 61)- the part of the brain that tells us there is a threat, thus exciting us to feed into dramatized news- does it further solidify the aims of the status quo in society? The status quo was defined in the text as the promotion of those in power in society (p. 8).

The text also raises questions about gender and the differences between the responses men and women have towards “bad news.” In the study from Maria Grabe and Rasha Kamhai (2006), they find that where men veer more toward the bad, women tend to respond more the good news (perhaps a maternal instinct?) (p. 56). How does this reiterate or hinder the idealized social structure of dominant male/passive female roles in society? Overall, does the Hierarchy of Influences Model we use to understand the relationship between individuals and social systems prohibit or inhibit independent thought function on “micro” level?

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Responses

  1. Interesting citations with proposed questions; lemme take a stab:

    “to what extent do people have control over their own reality?”

    I would argue that this level of control fluctuates based on ones ability to recognize that there are varying degrees of reality. I don’t mean in the sense of The Matrix, more in the sense that we are a product of the reality in which we reside; we are our own internal moderators or, using your term, gatekeepers. We alone choose to either vet, validate, and verify the content we digest, or choose not to. I would argue that in the digital and analog word we inhabit, we have never been in more control of our reality than ever before.

    “If our brains are indeed drawn to things that activate the amygdala (61)- the part of the brain that tells us there is a threat, thus exciting us to feed into dramatized news- does it further solidify the aims of the status quo in society? The status quo was defined in the text as the promotion of those in power in society.”

    If one is promoted to a level of power based on their previous level of power, than the equation would prove that one must seek power to be in power. And in my definition, the word power isn’t synonymous with dictatorship or some form of tyrannical ruling; it’s a sense of authority, hopefully positive.

    If one’s chemical reaction to certain stimuli is a ‘fight or flight’, I would argue that there are various ways in which one may fight. One could substitute a pen for the sword, in which case you’ve just found an individual who seeks some level of power… therefor, one must be stimulated in such a fashion as to seek some level of power. When one seeks power they get promoted. Thus, to become promoted one must be stimulated.

    “In the study from Maria Grabe and Rasha Kamhai (2006), they find that where men veer more toward the bad, women tend to respond more the good news (perhaps a maternal instinct?). How does this reiterate or hinder the idealized social structure of dominant male/passive female roles in society?”

    I can only theorize and draw hypothetical conclusions, but I would argue that perhaps the reason for such a chemical reaction found in a predominately male brain is the result of their desire to find a solution to a problem. I’m sure others will draw similar parallels, but how many times has a female presented a situation which may or may not call for problem solving, and without prompting the listener, a male counterpart says something along the lines of “here’s what you should do.”

    I jest but to make a point: negative information is negative because there isn’t a positive solution. As a male I can attest to our desire to be the one’s responsible for discovering and implementing a solution to a problem. It’s not necessarily the recognition we are after, it’s that we were able to a) access a situation b) take account of variables c) think critically d) implement solution e) remediate the negative. Perhaps that is why we are drawn to negativity, we wish to be the positive.

    As for a female gravitating towards more positive stories, again, I can only theorize, but perhaps it is because that frame of mind wishes to reinforce what is already positive, they wish to cast light on that which is already successful.

    Good stuff; nice insights and great questions prompting much thought. :thumbsup


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