The Fragmented Self and the Media


The media is versed at making us feel so inadequate that we start doubting our beliefs and values after a while. This is really detrimental since we already have such a difficult time to think for ourselves and to assert ourselves. So what the media does is to keep eroding our already vulnerable and, in some cases, fragmented self.

I believe this is why the media is so successful in undermining us and making us buy products that we don’t need. If we knew our values and kept asserting them, however, the media would not be as successful at manipulating us to buy this or that product.

But more than that, the media is successful at instilling a fundamental discontent in us. Why is the media so successful at doing this over and over? I think the media is successful because we don’t know our beliefs and values, or even if we do, we don’t assert them often. This is why the media has so many different in-roads and ways of manipulating us. If only we asserted our beliefs and values and believed in ourselves enough, the media wouldn’t be successful at selling all kinds of products that we don’t need.

The fact that the media is so successful is also really worrisome. Does that mean that our culture is not only prone to a kind of mindlessness but tolerates it? When we buy products that we don’t necessarily need, aren’t we unintentionally reinforcing the society’s fragmentation of ourselves?

Let me backtrack a bit for a moment to explain what I’m asserting here. When we don’t have a sense of our beliefs and values, we have what philosophers call a fragmented self. When we have a fragmented self, we cannot act from a position of self-knowledge. For many individuals, this can cause a lot of anxiety and hardship because we are uncertain of ourselves and how we ft into the world.

The media is part of that world picture. We struggle to be accepted and to fit in, yet we don’t accept ourselves nor validate ourselves. When this occurs, we look for outside validation. However, external validation is empty because unless we unconditionally validate ourselves first by unconditionally accepting who we are and loving ourselves, we will never be happy and content with ourselves, regardless of how many things we purchase. Validation must occur from the inside out if it is to be helpful to us.

External validation is impermanent and chaotic and always changing. So, if we depend on external validation, our beliefs and values and what gives us happiness, also becomes very chaotic as well.

But since most of us rely on some form of external validation, the media sets us up to buy their products. The incentive for buying a product is that it will help us feel happier, be more successful, look slimmer, have friends, and so on.

So, we buy these products to get this external validation, and every time we, do we feel more and more empty and vulnerable. The more we buy, the worse we feel about ourselves internally because it does nothing to validate us internally.

The media depends on our emptiness because only then will we agree to buy more products. When we buy products advocated by the media, we are accepting our fragmented self and reinforcing it by looking for validation in the wrong places.

Ideally, we should try to validate ourselves from the inside out. We can do this in the following ways:

  1. We must determine our long-term beliefs and desires. Some of these are related to our long-term goals and passions.
  2. We must determine our character traits and personality. Are you shy assertive, introverted, extroverted, and so on? Once  you find out what these are, work on acknowledging them and accepting them as defining features of who you are.
  3. Determine your likes and dislikes. These are also defining features of yourself. Once you determine what these are, celebrate them as unique features of yourself.
    If you do all of this, you won’t have as fragmented a self as before, and you will be working on developing a more wholesome idea of your self that isn’t fragmented. This way, the media won’t have such a hold on you.


 © Irene S. Roth

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