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How Can Media Reconnect Us With Our Humanity? (FULL DECK)


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The media plays an important role in defining who we are, what we desire and what is acceptable (or not) in our reality.

In this talk, we discuss the current state of affairs and discuss how we improve upon it.

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How Can Media Reconnect Us With Our Humanity? (FULL DECK)

  1. 1. How Can Media Reconnect Us With Our Humanity? Dr Tyrone Grandison – CTO/co-founder Lisa Mae Brunson – CEO/co-founder EqualityTV
  2. 2. All the opinions we share are solely our own.
  3. 3. provides an online stream of culturally diverse media to give a platform for marginalized communities and expand society views to embrace new ideas, lifestyles and social customs while boosting ethical, social and consumer consciousness.
  4. 4. Dr Tyrone Grandison Dr Tyrone Grandison is a senior leader in the computer science industry who has successfully managed small and large, matrixed teams across geographies, divisions and functional units in the spaces of data security, privacy, RFID data management, privacypreserving mobile data management, text analytics and healthcare management systems. Dr. Grandison has over 20 years experience in software engineering and research in enterprise and startup environments. More information at:
  5. 5. Lisa Mae Brunson Lisa Mae Brunson has been on a mission for the last 20 years to impact the world on a global scale as a writer, author, entrepreneur and “Inspirationalist.” Founder of the Love, Hugs and Inspiration Campaign, 21 Days of Fearlessness and 40 Days of Kindness, she is no stranger to the art of inspiration. Her motto: “There is no joy in living ordinary!” In an effort to produce media that inspires people to begin “Celebrating Humanity!” and tackle every issue in support of Equality, Lisa Mae developed EqualityTV, a multimedia broadcasting network. The goal: To make Equality go viral! She has inspired thousands to ‘skip to their bliss’ and reconnect with their childhood dreams, through her Creative Visionaries workshops. On sunny days you’ll find her skipping, hugging, or passing out food and hugs on the streets of Los Angeles.
  6. 6. What We Are Covering Today? 1.  The Basics - Defining The Principles. 2.  Media’s Current Approach To The Principles. 3.  The Current Trends in Media. 4.  Media’s Path to Improvement. 5.  Your Role. 6.  Conclusion.
  7. 7. The Basics – Defining The Principles
  8. 8. #Humanity101 There are seven (7) principles that are critical to success and professional relationships. These principles transcend boundaries of community, class, generation, discipline, etc. and connects us with our humanity. But, what do they mean?
  9. 9. #Humanity101 Principles 1.  Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. [ from Latin compati- ‘suffer with’ ] 2.  Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. [ from Greek empatheia (from em- ‘in’ + pathos ‘feeling’) ]
  10. 10. #Humanity101 Principles 3.  Forgiveness: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven. [ from Old English forgiefenes, from forgiefen (past participle of forgiefan ‘forgive’) ] Forgive: stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. [ Old English forgiefan from for- ‘completely’ + giefan ‘give’ ]
  11. 11. #Humanity101 Principles 4.  Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. [ from Latin integer ‘intact’ ] 5.  Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. [ from Old English ‘courtesy’, ‘noble deeds’ ]
  12. 12. #Humanity101 Principles 6.  Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. [ from Latin respicere ‘look back at’, ‘regard’ ] 7.  Self-Reflection: meditation or serious thought about one's character, actions, and motives. [ from Old English sylf ‘one’s own person’ & Latin reflectere ‘bent back,’ from the verb ]
  13. 13. NOW We can ask ourselves How does the media help us connect with our humanity using These Principles?
  14. 14. Media’s Current Approach To The Principles.
  15. 15. COMPASSION How does media enable us to be sympathetic and concerned about the sufferings of others?
  16. 16. Findings: PEW Research Center’s report “The State of the News Media 2013” •  Opinion dominates reporting. •  •  •  Airtime devoted to interviews rose from 39% (2007) to 51% (2012). Percentage of evening programming filled with interviews jumped from 30% (2007) to 57% (2012). Commentary and opinion are far more prevalent on the air throughout the day (63% of the airtime) than straight news reporting (37%).
  17. 17. •  Average story length on local television news decreased substantially. •  Time for local news content: •  From 1998 to 2002, 31% of the stories were more than a minute long and 42% were under 30 seconds. •  In 2012, only 20% of the local television stories exceeded a minute while 50% lasted less than 30 seconds. •  Time devoted to sports, weather and traffic on local newscasts rose even higher. •  From 32% (2005) to 40% (2012).
  18. 18. Programming Philosophy •  Fear Based Storytelling. •  Creating/Fabricating Trending Stories. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks, Film Director •  Comedy, not Compassion.
  19. 19. Examples •  Sweet Brown turned into viral parody. •  Charles Ramsey also turned into a viral parody. •  A 9.1 earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia. •  •  Created 30 meter Tsunami wave that displaced 1.8 million and left 230,000 dead or missing. Mainstream news focused on Boxing Day sales.
  20. 20. Hot Coffee * Used with the permission of Susan Saladoff - Director, Hot Coffee (
  21. 21. •  Media sways public opinion by presenting skewed ‘facts’ that provide an advantage for mainstream media. •  Social media is used to manufacture stories and to make them go viral, driving public opinion. •  When something is shared enough, it must make them true, right?
  22. 22. Have you heard of these stories ? Mante Teo’s Girlfriend The Gas Station Karaoke Couple Letter To Santa With An Amazon Link Waitress not tipped because of her sexual orientation
  23. 23. •  This trend has enabled opportunistic media companies popping up and gaining popularity. •  When Nelson Mandela passed, a tweet from Paris: "RIP Nelson Mandela. Your 'I Have a Dream' speech was so inspiring. An amazing man” •  Later, it was discovered that @DeletedTweets, a parody account, had manufactured the tweet. •  The mainstream media creates hoaxes to simulate ‘feel good’ stories. Why?
  24. 24. EMPATHY How does media enable us to be able to understand and share the viewpoint of someone different from us?
  25. 25. University of Michigan Study •  A study measuring empathy finds that: •  •  The current crop of college kids to be less empathetic than generations past. Also found a marked decline in the qualities of kindness and helpfulness. •  It is not just college kids, but society in general is less empathic than it once was. •  Media bears a large part of the blame. •  Violent media a factor, making people insensitive to others’ pain.
  26. 26. •  Common themes of Television Shows: •  •  •  •  Crime thrillers Reality Shows Raunchy comedy Violence, sexuality, race and gender stereotypes, drug and alcohol abuse •  Contributes to a society that views these influences as typical, safe and acceptable. •  This lead to behaviors being imitated in society. Thus, a copy-cat culture is born.
  27. 27. •  Sensationalism and glorification of crimes in the media spawns a lack of integrity in others and inspires ‘copycat’ crimes. •  Sensationalized Aggression •  •  Albert Bandura’s study (1960s) found that people can learn to be aggressive, especially if they saw the person being rewarded for the aggressive act. In copycat crimes, the main hypothesis is that the attention these crimes receive in the media acts as a reward for those wishing to copy them.
  28. 28. •  Recent examples of sensationalized aggression and copycat crimes include: KNOCKOUT Game STEUBENVILLE CASE
  29. 29. •  Charles Williams, a professor of psychology and education at Drexel University in Philadelphia, says some young people are desperate for attention. •  He called it the "Miley Cyrus effect”, where teens will do anything to get noticed, no matter how heinous or unconscionable.
  30. 30. FORGIVENESS How does media enable us to be able to completely give up being angry with people who wrong us, knowingly or unknowingly?
  31. 31. •  The antithesis of forgiveness is: Revenge the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. •  Lack of forgiveness in media breeds revenge. •  Revenge is one of the most common themes in media.
  32. 32. •  Popular shows like Revenge, Scandal, and Betrayal depict a disturbing trend in media that has spanned generations. •  Media networks use marketing campaigns like ‘Revengenda’ to expand their audience and provide an interactive environment where viewers can learn and share savvy revenge techniques.
  33. 33. •  Revenge has been a consistent motivator in many of the films of 2013, and will continue as the years goes on. •  "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "The Lone Ranger," "The Wolverine," "Prisoners," "Carrie," "47 Ronin" ….. •  Media created a ‘Revenge Culture’. •  That drives the message: “If you take revenge publicly via media, you will get heard, and get action”.
  34. 34. What do you think?
  35. 35. INTEGRITY How does media enable us to be our highest moral self?
  36. 36. •  The root of the lack of integrity in America. •  •  Selfishness and having no empathy or love for others. Many people just no longer care what their own actions do to others. •  It is all about "me" and that is why this is called the "me generation”. •  Finding: Uni. Of Essex’s Integrity study •  An erosion of trust between people can have economic as well as social consequences.
  37. 37. “We’re living in a time when everybody is so obsessed with delivery systems and gaming the system and business. It is actually very, very soul destroying” “We do not have enough respect for content anymore” - Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast Brown asserted that without more respect for the integrity of news, we will be a “very ill-informed nation.”
  38. 38. KINDNESS How does media enable us to be friendly, generous and considerate?
  39. 39. There is a distinct lack of kindness portrayed in media (traditional and newer forms) by: Body Shaming Male characters often negatively comment on average and above average weight females' body shapes and weights and audiences usually react by laughing.
  40. 40. Physically and Mentally Disabled Physically and mentally disabled people are often portrayed as helpless, pathetic and needing to be institutionalized in some fashion. Deaf and Hearing Impaired The deaf and hearing impaired are often the butt of jokes in shows. They are unfairly treated and common language includes, ‘deaf and stupid.’
  41. 41. Racism Many shows and films inadvertently use racist language, stereotypes and themes. Comedy is often used as a buffer to deliver racist remarks. Gender Discrimination Women are characterized as weak and inferior to men. The language used can be very demeaning and unkind. Bullying Behavior Bully behavior is common in media. Whether a
  42. 42. Bullying Behavior Bully behavior is common in media. Whether a child is being bullied and taunted at school, or a wife is bullied and abused by her husband, or a man is being bullied and pressured by his colleagues, the media is awash with bulling and unkind behavior.
  43. 43. RESPECT How does media enable us to hold each other in the highest regard?
  44. 44. •  Similar to the lack of kindness in media, there is the lack of respect. •  The ‘sitcom formula’ is built on a foundation where demonstrating lack of respect for others, is the Golden Rule.
  45. 45. •  Networks know that the majority of audiences enjoy offensive language and comedy. •  Show concepts are created with the intent to highlight and blatantly disrespect the differences in others.
  46. 46. SELF-REFLECTION How does media enable us to think about our character, actions and motives?
  47. 47. •  There are a large number of characters and people in media who appear to be shallow and superficial. •  Rarely do we get an inside look into a character’s meditative thoughts. •  Deep conscious characters and distinguished storylines are not common in mainstream media, but can be found in Independent films and alternative media.
  48. 48. The Current Trends In Media
  49. 49. •  Ninety percent of movies, 68% of video games, and 60% of TV shows show some depictions of violence. •  Top Shows:
  50. 50. •  Many shows marketed as ‘reality shows’. •  but often portray a different reality than you or I experience. •  Common themes in these shows: •  Competitiveness •  Overinflated sense of self •  Dishonesty •  Disrespect •  Addictive Behaviors •  Blatant abusive language •  Gossip and backstabbing •  Lack of the (7) principles
  51. 51. In 2014, MORE of the same shows launching:
  52. 52. Media’s Path to Improvement
  53. 53. Firstly What do YOU think humanity is?
  54. 54. Humanity “Humanity is the essence and core of our existence as humans”. “It is how we connect with ourselves and one another.” •  •  We are constantly evolving the definition, as we humans evolve and are influenced. Our greatest source of evolution and impact in society is our media.
  55. 55. We Need to See More of THIS:
  56. 56. In Today’s Society •  Media constructs our global culture. •  We are constantly influenced by what mass media dictates for our present and future. •  Media has the power to directly impact future generations. •  •  Our world is a reflection of the media we generate. For centuries, this media has largely ignored marginalized communities and promoted mediocrity and inequality around the world.
  57. 57. Emerging Trends Upworthy: Things that matter. Pass 'em on “We're a mission-driven media company. We do have a point of view. We're pro-gay-marriage, and we're anti-child-poverty. We think the media is horrible to women, we think climate change is real, and we think the government has a lot to learn from the Internet about efficiency, disruption, and effectiveness.” •  Their success stems from the kind of content they curate and share across social media platforms.
  58. 58. Meet Dr. Robert
  59. 59. TheDream.US Scholarship: Marcy
  60. 60. Humans of New York
  61. 61. Celebrating Humanity •  UCLA study of 1,000 TV shows (on 67 cable & broadcast networks) on ‘racial diversity in the entertainment industry’. •  more viewers were drawn to shows with ethnically diverse lead cast members and writers, while shows reflecting less diversity in their credits attracted smaller audiences.
  62. 62. Celebrating Humanity "It's clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences," - Hunt •  •  •  Reconnecting with our humanity means we must embrace the rich diversity of what makes each of us human. We must be exposed to media that allows us to relate to who we are. We must also be exposed to media that is drastically different from our own experiences and personal culture.
  63. 63. Remember this?
  64. 64. Media is slowly introducing more content with diverse casts, compelling storylines and family and relationship dynamics.
  65. 65. YOUR Role
  66. 66. ACT! ACT! ACT! •  Share and support media that embody the 7 principles. •  Speak out when you see media that does not connect us with our humanity. •  Create the media you want to see. •  Positive, uplifting, diverse, informative, inclusive Summary: Personal Responsibility & Social Accountability
  67. 67. Conclusion
  68. 68. •  Media has a responsibility to humanity •  •  Media influences society. Thus far, it has abused that power. •  Society is changing •  •  Humans are shifting. Media is responding. •  We need to make media act consciously •  To emphasize and engage our humanity.
  69. 69. Viewing of Happy The Documentary
  70. 70. Later This Year •  Hacks for Humanity •  •  An opportunity for software developers, makers, and humanitarians to create deliverables (e.g. websites, mobile apps, programs, devices) to help us reconnect to our humanity. Tentative Date: September 18th to 21st, 2014.
  71. 71. Thank you