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While you were sleeping.

There’s a game of chance that one often sees being played on the street in the bigger cities. Say you’re walking along and your attention is caught by a charismatic fellow. He stands at his little table, making jovial conversation with the crowd that circles him as he rolls a brightly colored ball around in his fingers to hold their attention. He has 3 uniform cups, and as you approach he hides the ball under one. He deftly shuffles the cups and you try to track them with your eyes. Just as you’re catching up, he stops, and you guess which hides the ball, having placed a wager. If you guess, you’ll double your bet. He has your complete attention, and before long, he has your money.

That man is Control, that table is Culture, and the cups are the facets of Media. The ball is Truth, and he palmed it before you even started watching the shuffle. Those cups are empty. What he sells you is the idea of the ball, and he keeps you chasing it as long as he can.

Once in a while, you actually find the ball, when he lets you. The crowd is so much more receptive when they see somebody win once in a while. Maybe you even get to roll the ball around a few times yourself, but you can feel that something is missing.

There are infinite tables on infinite streets, and the man has an endless supply of faces. Sometimes he’s your parents, sometimes your pastor; the voice on the radio, the face on the television. When the game really has you, you start shuffling the cups yourself.

When something is in the news, frantically being reported as if it were the only thing happening, you can be sure it’s just a shiny new cup. While you watch that trial, or that disaster, or that election, something is happening that you are not meant to notice. These are not coincidences. All media has an agenda. While you watch the game, someone in the crowd picks your pocket. While you watch the game, someone else poisons your food.

Walk away from the game while you still can, and when you’re far enough down the road to hear your own voice again, open your hand. The real ball was there all along.