From Now On

The Educational Technology Journal

Vol 14|No 1|October|2004
Please feel free to e-mail this article to a friend, a principal, a parent, a colleague, a teacher librarian, a college professor, a poet, a magician, a vendor, an artist, a juggler, a student, a news reporter or anyone you think might enjoy it. Other transmissions and duplications not permitted. (See copyright statement below).

Perception Management

by Jamie McKenzie

(about author)

© 2004, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved.

Things are not always what they seem to be.

And that is exactly the way some people like it.

When times are bad, they want us to think they are good and getting better.

When damage is being done, they hope we will be unable to see the clear cutting behind the line of trees cleverly left to block the sight of drivers along the road system.

Long ago, Alice discovered that Life really was a Mad Tea Party and Wonderland was a clever theme park meant to displace that tedious thing called reality.

Concealing the truth from public view has become a dishonorable but lucrative profession in many nations as power brokers seek to maintain their grip by distorting perceptions of reality. Good citizens in this brave world will be compliant and accepting rather than challenging and critical.

Power brokers hope to continue doing bad works by making them seem like good works.

Some call this SPIN. Others call it MisInformation. Still others call it propaganda.

Just Say It Isn't So

Some of this phenomenon is caused by wishful thinking. Sometimes folks have a low tolerance for bad news and reality. Sometimes they find reality shows (a true oxymoron) a huge relief from the real world. At a time when action heroes and wrestlers become governors or world leaders, the cartoon replaces serious drama while fiction, melodrama, soap opera and fantasy shove aside that boring thing we used to call LIFE.

Ironically, the BIG LIE is easier to swallow than the BITTER TRUTH.

Next thing we note true believers swallowing the latest party line hook, line and sinker without questioning its veracity.

Do we want our children to grow up embracing such weak standards of veracity?

Must verity and veracity become orphaned twins, casualties of a cynical age willing to sacrifice truth to the winds of expediency and fashion?

Shall we allow presumption and bias to substitute for judgment and reason, displacing longstanding traditions of gathering evidence and looking before leaping?

Soft Truth, Soft Evidence and Soft Drinks

Some of the population is content with coddling and pandering. Few leaders are rewarded for confronting or communicating the difficult truth.

"Tell us what we want to hear!" the voices shout in chorus as a host of leaders and PR merchants churn out messages of reassurance and optimism to mask the fumes of cultural landfills.

Media Literacy?

Is there a literacy lurking here some place? Is there a curriculum?

What should schools do to equip students to live in these times of pessimism dressed up as optimism and of greed masquerading as compassion and generosity?

In the past we have relied upon media literacy to arm students against misinformation, propaganda and grotesque marketing, but it may not be sufficient to the task at hand.

When veracity is sent packing to loud applause from the general public, the society lurches like a runaway freight train screaming down a mountain grade. The Roman Circus kept folks happy and entertained as Rome's reach exceeded its grasp and its world ambitions led to its eventual decline. Efforts at entertainment often seems to peak when cultures reach self-defeating extremes. Recent freakish experiments with reality shows should serve as a warning as we lurch into a new century celebrating the eating of insects and the firing of apprentices.


When air pollution, water pollution and other forms of corruption are packaged attractively as social benefits, we lurch and stumble away from decency. We lose our way. We wander and stumble. The bitter pill starts to taste like candy. Why worry about water quality when we can mask the taint and the sour flavor with enhancers and artificial sweeteners?

Back to October Cover

Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie .

Copyright Policy: Materials published in From Now On may be duplicated in hard copy format if unchanged in format and content for educational, nonprofit school district and university use only and may also be sent from person to person by email. This copyright statement must be included. All other uses, transmissions and duplications are prohibited unless permission is granted expressly. Showing these pages remotely through frames is not permitted.

FNO is applying for formal copyright registration for articles. Unauthorized abridgements are illegal.

From Now On Index Page