Saturday, May 26, 2018

Disturbances to get gain

Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek. (Alma 11:20)

This verse talks about the dangers of law-craft becoming a means of stirring people up to disturbances, in order for the lawyers to get gain, but I think it can apply in other ways too. Anyone who stands to profit from an increase in disturbance may become suspect.

For instance, what good is a big army in peacetime? Preparation is important, but how much is too much? Nibley (who worked in Army intelligence) later wrote of his concern when he saw army leaders being sad when WWII was over because they would be out of a job…until they discovered the idea of little brushfires wars around the world.   Likewise, those who sell weapons have an interest in conflict becoming armed and dangerous.

Disturbance is news, so those who report the news have a sort of motivation not only to find the conflict to report it, but also to continue talking about it and hashing it over as much as possible, all while publicly tsk-tsking over what goes on. The 24-hour news cycle was a model created in the 80s that also created a constant demand for material to report. The news cycle means not only reporting events, but also reporting reaction to those events from all kinds of stakeholders in the story and even those who are not involved. Competition between news providers means they must deliver the latest news in the most compelling manner to stay ahead. They get dollars for capturing eyeballs to sell to advertisers.

Social media enables those who gather a large following to make money from online advertising.
Sharing on social media may start with sharing valuable perspective that may otherwise go unheard, but there is a darker side. When emphasis on conflict becomes a primary means of capturing and holding attention--as followers are gripped with curiosity and want to see what happens next—when a social media person’s involvement is devoted mostly to taking sides in controversies—and followers are encouraged to take action to attack and shame those they consider enemies, then social media advocacy is stirring up disturbance.

I think it behooves us to keep these things in mind and be careful not to let ourselves get stirred up to anger. Part of charity is to not be easily provoked. We need people with those qualities even more now.


Rozy Lass said...

Those who stir up racial strife and disturbances are guilty too!

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point!