Experiment with “Mad Men” shows mind-altering effects

After watching "Mad Men" for two weeks straight, the mind is altered to be more open to things it shouldn't. Screenshot credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Otto Tielemans

After watching "Mad Men" for two weeks straight, the mind is altered to be more open to things it shouldn't. Screenshot credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
After watching “Mad Men” for two weeks straight, the mind is altered to be more open to things it shouldn’t. Screenshot credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

No one likes being told that their opinions aren’t really their own.

Neither do they like being told that they are influenced by outside sources, but if there is one thing that has been embedded in my head over the last couple of weeks in government class it’s that the media has a huge impact on our perception of issues and current events. Being the stubborn teenager that I am, I dismissed all of the sources presented to me without thinking twice.

However, after reading Zach Plahn’s article about Netflix I decided to revisit the topic that I so hastily look over.

Every day after school, I go home and watch at least two hours of some type of program. Recently, I began watching “Mad Men” and as I sat captivated in front of my computer screen, I came up with an idea. In order to see the effect that media had on me, I would dedicate myself to watching one television series, “Mad Men,” and see that if affected the way I see things.

So, I did just that. For two weeks I watched nothing besides “Mad Men.” Day in and day out, I watched advertising executives from the 1960s smoke like chimneys, drink alcohol as though it were water, and sleep around with countless secretaries. After I finished the six seasons on Netflix, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

There was no doubt in my mind that the television series changed the way I looked at things.

For the last four years, I have volunteered at the American Cancer Society. I’ve been captain of relay teams, been involved in anti-tobacco campaigns, and advocated for a smoke-free world. Yet at the end of watching “Mad Men,” smoking seemed less hazardous. It was done so often, so naturally and with such a sauve manner that all of its life-ending side effects became irrelevant. As a matter of fact, smoking was glorified to the extent where it was even alluring. It wasn’t until I finished watching an episode and there was a pause that my logic kicked back in and I was reminded of how much I despised tobacco.

Much the same goes for the abuse of alcohol. Heck, at the end of it all I wanted to throw away my entire wardrobe and replace it with dress shirts, tuxedos, and slacks.

I can’t believe that after only 14 days of watching something, my convictions had considerably lessened. Now, of course, that is not to say that I am suddenly a supporter of alcohol, tobacco, or the exploitation of woman. What it does mean is that within the short period of time I was able to ease up on a couple of stances for a limited time.

So what are we to do in order to prevent ourselves from being influenced by the media? Do we simply become hermits and avoid all newspapers and broadcasts? Obviously not.

In order to liberate our minds and become less influenced by the media, we must begin to think critically about the things we watch. We cannot allow ourselves to be brainwashed by biased news sources and glamorous television series. We have to think about the morals and ethics of what we watch, read and hear. If we don’t, then we will find that our opinions have been swayed by things that are fundamentally wrong.

I encourage all of you to test yourselves the way I did. If you don’t want to watch “Mad Men,” then choose something else. But believe me when I say that you will be surprised at how easily your perception of things can be altered by the media

What do you think?