“Sympathy” is the best word I can think of for the way we open ourselves up to another and treat them as part of our tribe, as an extension of ourselves. Experientially it could be described as a kind of warm “leaning in” as opposed to a cold, leaned-back skepticism, and it’s an absolutely essential first step toward planting ideas in your head. All the best manipulators are extremely adept at not just coming across as likeable and trustworthy, but at attracting this kind of sympathetic response from people.
By fostering an unsympathetic inner posture toward all establishment pundits and politicians, you are removing the foundation they require in order to start constructing narratives inside your head. This can be done by remembering that you live in a corporatist society full of corporatist propaganda.
In a corporatist society wherein corporate power is inseparable from government power, corporate media is state media. It is propaganda.
Maintaining an awareness that you are consuming propaganda kills the power of that propaganda, in the same way awareness that you are being lied to kills the power of the lie. Instead of leaning in sympathetically and asking “What information is this reporter trying to bestow upon me?” you’re leaned back asking “Why is it important to this propagandist that I believe such a thing?”
Propaganda works by constructing narratives that are favorable to the institution promulgating it, and it does so by appealing to people’s baser impulses like fear and tribalism in order to create sympathy for their stories. Inner work which creates some space from mental narrative and identification is a great way to inoculate oneself against such manipulations. Meditation, self-inquiry, mantra repetition and mindfulness practices can all be useful toward this end, as can right-brained activities like drawing and painting since they involve a movement away from the language center.
All it really takes is enough movement away from the mind’s churning mental narratives to be able to view those narratives “from the outside”, that is, without being sucked inside their worldview.
There are some people who you can always count on to speak their truth regardless of the consequences. It doesn’t mean they’re always right about everything since no one is, it just means you can count on them to remain focused on asking themselves what’s true rather than getting sucked up into the hysteria of a given consensus narrative.
This needn’t be a professional commentator or high-profile figure; it can be a friend or group of friends or your wise old grandmother. It’s just important to find one solid, grounding voice.
Most importantly, try to foster your own positive narrative about the things that are going on in the world. It’s not enough to have an idea about what’s false and who’s lying, because then you’re just spinning in an ungrounded ocean of “no” without knowing which way’s up or having any clear way of conceptualizing what’s true. It’s too easy to get lost when all you’re doing is rejecting narratives, so start building your own. Start piecing together your own ideas about what’s really going on in the world.