2020 is a prime time to think about how the media affects us all.
There's fake news on social media, internet silos and hive minds, disinformation everywhere you look, and, speaking more generally, just a higher volume of information flying in our faces than ever before.
To contextualize the current chaos, historical examples may be helpful. And when media and propaganda are the focus of our curiosity, the Cold War immediately comes to mind.
Lucky for us, Reddit boasts plenty of users of all ages, Cold War babies included. A recent post asked those who were there to share just what the propaganda felt like during the global conflict.
Alpha_Scatterrer asked, "People who lived during the cold war, how was the propaganda like?"
Even in the Songs
"So much media was about dying in nuclear war."
"The Smiths and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD) and Alphaville were popular alternative bands in the 80's and they sung about nuclear annihilation ALL THE TIME."
"Convincing. You thought that every Soviet was out to kill and destroy you. Wasn't until I was in the navy and we had a Russian carrier pull alongside us for a photo op."
"It was then I realized how insignificant I was In the grand scheme of things. It was then I could see myself as a sailor on that ship."
"It was then that I flushed nationalism down the toilet and recognized humanity as my true countrymen and women. The propaganda still lives on today - most just don't see it."
"My dad (boomer born 1953) recently watched one of my 5 year old daughters favourite cartoons, Masha and The Bear."
"He was fascinated by the fact he found it funny. He was in awe that Russian people could produce a cartoon that was warm and lighthearted."
"He genuinely said to me that when he grew up he was told that Russian children were not allowed to watch anything like that, and that cartoons were either propaganda or extremely dated and poor quality."
"In the UK there were lots of ads promoting Trident (a very expensive Nuclear Weapons System)."
"Meanwhile the infrastructure decayed as we trudged to our school chock full of abusive 3rd rate teachers and unemployment was the norm."
"Think 1984. Dreary poverty."
Not Fear, But Pity
"We had the idea that everyone behind the Iron Curtain was living a miserable and drab life. Standing in line for hours to get poor quality goods, living in grey concrete buildings. Never smiling, living in fear or reprisals should they speak up."
"We didn't hate the people living in communist countries but we hated their system and felt kind of sorry for them."
"Meanwhile we were scared that they would attack at any moment and try to subjugate the rest of us."
"We thought the Russians drank tank fuel when they ran out of vodka. And also that Russian women were 10 feet tall and had beards." -- UncleGIJoe
"Russians, as described by JRR Tolkien" -- all_doges_go_to_heck
"I'm too young, but the anti-American propaganda was enormous in socialist Czechoslovakia."
"For example, American music was banned as well as Coca-Cola, which is why we created our version called Kofola (which is much better in my opinion)."
"We also laugh at the Soviet lie that the USA brought potato bugs to central and east Europe so that they would destroy our potatoes."
"If you want to get your head around just how successful the propaganda machine in the US was, just look at politics today. Socialism is a dirty word among many who were adults in the 80's, even when discussing democratic socialism."
"Back then, socialist and communist were basically the same word and would be frequently swapped when discussing the USSR. My parents think Bernie Sanders and AOC are leaders of an underground communist movement looking to secretly overthrow the republic."
"Us good, them bad. Watch Rocky IV. It's the ultimate Cold War propaganda movie." -- 93195
"5'11" Sylvester Stallone outboxed 6"4" Dolph Lundgren and then the Russian crowd cheered."
"I don't know what was more implausible- the plot, or that people bought it, to the tune of $300m. That's how much the US believed it's own bullsh!t in the 80s."
"That's what 'making America great again' means." -- sugarfoot00
Get Em While Their Young
"American here. They really wanted us to love our government, no matter what they were doing. When I was a kid in the early 80s, I had a book called 'Kid's Letters to President Reagan'..."
"and it was full of cute questions like 'What's your favorite pet?' so we could humanize the people who run the country."
"At the same time, once in a while they snuck in one meant to dehumanize the Soviets, like 'Do Russians go to heaven when they die?'"
"I still remember that page from the book because it had a picture of Nikita Khrushchev with a halo and angel wings banging his shoe on a podium."
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When you're having a bad day, sometimes it's the littlest things that can give you a small boost.
Whether it's someone holding the door open for you or another giving up their seat for you on the train, it's no skin off their teeth.
But the tiny gestures of goodwill can mean the world to you at that moment when you need it the most.
Curious to hear examples proving humanity still exists in the world, Redditor stranger2Me asked:
"What’s a small act of kindness you were once shown, that you’ll never forget?"
These Redditors who were going nowhere fast got an unexpected lift.
The Suprise Twist
"Neighbors asked to borrow my truck. Told them I could not trust my truck because the tires were bad"
"Next day mr neighbor called and said he was getting new tires for his suburban and I could have his old ones. Told me to just show up at this certain tire shop and they would put them on"
"Get to tire shop and they put on brand new Goodyear tires. I asked what happened to the old tires I was suppose to receive."
"Shop owner said the 'old tires' was just a story to get me in the shop."
"Mr neighbor bought me a full set of new tires instead of the old tires he said I could have."
"Riding my bike on a long trip through Canada. With about 50 miles to go, I had a major mechanical failure. Stuck on the side of the road in a foreign country within 5 minutes at least 10 cars had stopped to check on me."
"One guy loaded my bike in the back of his truck and drove me 30 miles to the border where I could catch a ferry back to the US. Amazing kindness and generosity toward a stranger. He just asked that I pay it forward and to date I've helped 5 cyclists who were broken down in honor of that promise👍"
Push Came To Shove
"Alternator died while I was driving home from university. Engine died as I exited the freeway in the middle of the night in a not-so-pleasant part of town in the days before cell phones. As I'm pushing my car out of the intersection, a guy in a truck comes up and offers to push my car to my neighborhood a good three miles away. He does so, and I'm pulling into my neighborhood, he simply gives a wave and drives off into the night. I never even had a chance to thank him."
Those who were in need of basic essentials remain forever grateful for their respective encounters with good samaritans.
Comforts We Take For Granted
"I was given access to a shower and a hot meal after being homeless for 9 months."
Wrapped In Love
"I was nine years old, waiting for the school bus in Wisconsin winter. I had a thin coat, no hat or gloves. A woman driving past saw me and stopped, giving me a blanket from the back of her car. It was a long skinny one, so she wrapped it around my head and shoulders like a big scarf. I remember thanking her, but being confused. I told her I didn't know how I would give it back when I was done borrowing it. She hugged me and said not to worry. I still have that blanket."
"My gym teacher purchased me lunch in 3rd grade after I dropped mine. I'm 34 years old and still remember this."
"I recorded a homemade album with my garage band in high school and handed out a few CDs. A few weeks later my English teacher approached me with 5 pages of notes on what he liked and what I could improve on. He apparently got the CD from someone at the high school and listened to it all the way through (it was over an hour long). He didn't know I was the singer and guitar player until he asked the person who gave him the CD. He said that if I ever got a shot in a studio, I would create something amazing. Thank you to all the teachers out there who believe in their students. It makes all the difference to some of us."
People who found themselves in distress were comforted by thoughtful strangers.
The people involved in these situations may not have introduced each other in that moment, but the acts of kindness still remain forever embedded in memory.
"I took my sister whose in a wheelchair to the cinema for the first time on my own. At the end, I realized I couldn't undo the brakes and was blocking everyone. I felt like crying because I thought everyone was pissed at me, but some nice lady helped me, then took me and my sister out. She said she once had a son who needed a wheelchair. This was long ago but I'll never forget."
"I was out of a job at a time that I had to support my mother. Finally landed one but I had to walk back and forth and I didn't have any shoes that would hold up on the walk or the work. Went to fb and mom asked around for some hand me downs we could buy from some one. A day later a very kind man showed up with a brand new pair of really nice shoes he had just gone out and bought for me. He left before I could even get any money for him. I cried."
The Girl Who Came From Nothing
"Sometimes the hero is the one who asks. A friend of mine has a son who was dating a girl with a really bad home life. She broke down at their house once because she’s started her period and couldn’t afford tampons that month. My friend found out she only had one pair of shoes that were falling apart, one pair of jeans she wore every day, and a few hoodies. The girl was my size so I passed down a few pairs of Nike shoes I’d never worn, a couple of Lush bath bombs and gift cards to Belk and JCPenney."
"My friend took her to the mall said she only bought underwear and bras since she barely had any that fit. It meant nothing to me since it was all stuff I had around my house but everything to that girl. There were about 6 of us that dropped off stuff for the girl, who said it was more than she’d ever owned in her life."
Thank You, Reddit
"During the single most difficult time of my life, a stranger on reddit gifted me $500. To me, it was a fortune. I received it while at work and just broke down. It started the change of my life and a few months later I was able to move, met my now-fiancé, had my son, and found my job. I still message them once in a while to update them on my life and continue to thank them for their generosity, but I think they abandoned their account years ago."
"Edit: You all have inspired me to write them another message (it’s been a while). And a shoutout to everyone who has or wants to do something similar. I hope you understand how earth-shattering, in the best way possible, those kind of gifts can be."
Alas, there is still hope for humanity.
These heartwarming stories are reminders of how exceptional we are as human beings, and that it really doesn't take much to spread the love and extend a helping hand where we can.
We are living in an age where misinformation is readily accessible and is wrongly implemented to disastrous effect.
Specifically harmful are the ones that entail spurious tips on how to survive in moments of peril.
Curious to hear what some of those might be, Redditor standardgenre45 asked:
"What is a survival myth that is completely wrong and could get you killed?"
These involve conserving your available resources while they last.
"Rationing water is generally a terrible choice - drink what you have until it’s gone. Use that time with good hydration levels to take stock of your situation and make good choices."
"Decision making and physical ability drop off very quickly when you are dehydrated. The first decisions you make after realizing you are in a survival situation are critical and pay long dividends."
"Most survival situations are resolved within 72 hours and many hikers are found dead in the desert with full water bottles."
Not Peeing Enough Is Bad
"I used to work with a guy who spent much of his Air Force career teaching survival to aircrews and I remember him saying, 'Ration sweat, not water.' He said to conserve energy and avoid doing physically strenuous things like constructing a better shelter during the day, but keep drinking water. His other maxim was, 'If you're not peeing, you're not drinking enough.'"
Save Your Battery
"Changing the voicemail on your mobile phone to tell incoming callers about your plight. That bullsh*t just wastes battery"
"At the first sign of trouble, send a SMS with your best location details to everyone on your contact list, even if you have no signal and set it to max power save with WiFi, Mobile Data and Bluetooth off. Your phone will continually try to get the SMS out if even if you get a little signal for a few seconds and will use a lot less power doing it."
You might keep these in mind when it comes to someone trying desperately to stay afloat.
Drowning Survivors Take Note
"Perhaps not really a myth, but something people may think is true after watching people get rescued from the water on TV. 'get them breathing and send them on their merry way.'"
"If you rescue someone from a near drowning, they still need to go to the hospital, even though they are safely on land now."
"The lungs are coated with a slippery mucous like substance called a surfactant. It's kind of a lubricant and it keeps them from collapsing and sticking to themselves. If they ingested a lot of water into the lungs, chances are they have washed away the surfactant. Their lungs could collapse at any moment and their ability to uptake oxygen is reduced. Get the survivor on oxygen."
"source: rescue trained scuba diver here."
Interpreting The Signs
"Drowning people do not cry for help or make gestures to try and get someone’s attention."
"What they are doing is trying to stay afloat and trying to catch their breath; never count on a cry for help!"
"It usually looks like someone is trying to climb an invisible ladder with their hand barely above the water, and unless you're a world champ water polo player, do not approach without a floatation device. They are desperate and you will become their floatation device, which can result in both of you drowning."
Driven To The Depths
"If you go into a lake when in a car dont wait until the car fills with water, just open the window and get out ASAP. If you wait, you could be 200 feet down or flipped over on the bottom. The power will still work for a short time. It only takes a few seconds."
"Edit - Source: must buddy did his master thesis on exactly this and I got to practice it several times in a pool."
Never stick to the obvious when trying to provide aid in traumatic situations.
Look Out For Other Signs
"This is true of trauma/injuries too. People who are seriously hurt aren't usually the ones screaming and flapping around. They'll more likely be in shock or losing consciousness. If you are on scene at a large accident like a traffic collision or something and it's safe to help, look out for the quiet people"
The Quiet Victim
"Yep. Was involved as a passenger in a very nasty car wreck. The drivers were yelling and screaming. I was calm, matter of fact, and quiet. I remember the medic asking me what was on the airbag and I calmly said, 'That’s part of my tongue I bit off. Can you please help me out so I can walk this off?' Yeah, I had eight broken ribs, a 16 inch gash in my leg, a fractured trachea, and more. I was completely calm until about two hours into it at the ER."
Bears are cute...until they tackle you.
Don't Underestimate Them
"That bears can’t run down hills. They can. They’ll get you too."
They're No Joke
"I was actually going to try and find this fact and what do you know, it’s at the top!"
"Bears are no joke, they run, climb and swim like a damn CrossFit junkie jacked up on meth."
"Another thing is they don’t gas out quickly, I’ve seen videos of bears running full speed than swimming across a river and running full speed again to catch prey."
Speculation is rampant on the internet and it's important to do thorough research before applying supposed survival tips.
Better yet, hopefully you're not in any of the predicaments stated above that involve you resorting to questionable survival guides.
Elementary school teachers are liars! Or, at least, they omit the truth.
When we were young, we learned about historical figures such as explorers, inventors, politicians, artists, and more who were touted as great people.
However, if we look past their great discoveries or triumphs, the people are not all that great. Christopher Columbus is a prime example.
Some people, like the late, great Steve Irwin, indisputably earned the title of good guys. But as we all know thanks to people like Coco Chanel or Bill Cosby, those who paint themselves as good guys are actually bad guys.
Curious to find out more, Redditor CongressPotatoKenobi asked:
"Which one of histories ‘good guys’ was actually a horrible person?"
The Pitfalls Of Jealousy
"Tinkerbell. Everybody thinks she was so cute and such a good friend to Peter, but she was a jealous psychopath and tried to murder Wendy several times."
"But in the books Peter Pan is also basically a psychopath. There are multiple references to the Lost Boys being worried he'd kill them."
"One of the main points of the book is that children don't know right from wrong unless they have parents to teach them."
"Just watched Peter Pan (the cartoon) the other day, and yeah she was a psycho. I would love to see Aubrey Plaza play her in the inevitable live action remake cause damn, Tink was cold blooded."
The Great Inventors Of Yore
"Alexander Graham Bell!"
"This man did not invent the telephone. Several people were working on similar technology at the same time. Antonio Meucci invented it first, but there was a court case over who got the patent rights. Meucci died before the case was settled, and Graham Bell won the glory he didn't deserve."
"Alexander Graham Bell was also a eugenicist who sought to end sign language in schools and wanted to ban deaf people from marrying each other. He was a staunch Oralist and the repercussions of his actions are still being felt in society today through such Audist institutions like the Bell Institute."
"Thomas Edison. Biggest monopolist ever and took credit for other people's work. He didn't invent the lightbulb but bought the rights and advanced it. He monopolized the film-projector + most films at the time and it took a very long lawsuit to get that fixed. He took many creations from his employees and put his name on it. This wasn't illegal because of the contracts employees signed at the time but it's not exactly a sign of goodwill. I don't hate the guy but his character is often completely exaggerated."
– Deleted User
"Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s winter homes are in my city. As soon as students are in 3rd grade, all the schools would bring us to their homes, and really try to make you believe both of them were good people."
The Great Inventors Of Now
"Steve Jobs was a bit of an ass"
"Bit was an understatement. The guy was a massive credit hog, abused his employees and normalized a lot of sh*t business practices that are now used by several other companies."
"he generally treats his employees like sh*t, overworking them and making them work in unsafe conditions"
"He recently cut wages of all his workers after tesla stock went up"
– Deleted User
"There are higher injuries and safety violations in his factories compared to other car manufacturers, and there are emails about disregarding safety protocols in order to push more production."
"Workers could lose limbs, be permanently injured or die."
Those Writers Though
"Rudyard Kipling, author of 'the jungle book.' Paraphrasing, "the only way to keep the yellow man out is to bring the white man in.""
"Also got his son killed by using his influence to get him into the army despite his sons piss poor eyesight. Bit of a d*ck move if you ask me."
"Dr. Seuss was a total POS who cheated on his first wife with her friend, His first wife, Helen, had Guillain-Barré syndrome, and knowledge of her husband's affair drove her to eventual suicide. He then remarried her friend."
"Her suicide note; “I am too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you,” read her suicide note. “My going will leave quite a rumor, but you can say I was overworked and overwrought. Your reputation with your friends and fans will not be harmed.”"
"also, this does not make him terrible, but he had an "adult" nudie book called the seven lady godivas. It's weird yall."
"HP Lovecraft. Maybe not one of the "Good Guys," because he didn't pioneer any social movements or anything like that, but he's one of the most influential writers of the 20th century."
"He was also insanely racists. And not just your typical "white man from 1920s America" racist, but passionately, unapologetically racist. The kind of racist that made other racist 1920s American white guys say "Dude, chill out with the racism.""
The Music Sounds Different Now
"In some aspects to the 60’s and 70’s when the Beatles were icons, (I’m talking about John Lennon) people who use his image and face for “peace” sometimes forget important details."
"-He abused women"
"-He was a cheater"
"-Total hypocrite on the “no possessions” when he lived one of the most lavish lifestyles of his time"
"-almost killed a few people (look up Bob Wooler, he was almost punched to death by John. There were others but their stories have either been disputed or unclaimed.)"
"So whenever I see a bunch of people sing imagine I just shake my head in shame cause so many people don’t even know how bad he was but act like he was a saint."
"Elvis Presley. He never wrote a song in his life, but his record label made any song writers hand over half of their writing fees, before Elvis would record their songs. He's credited as a co-writer on the majority of his songs."
Talks Too Much
"You can see it in her TV persona. Basically, all those little off-handed put downs she does that pass for jokes are the real Ellen. She doesn't seem to be trying to make them funny either. People just take it that way because it is Ellen."
"She is the kind of person that is always talking shi=*t about everybody else and if she gets called out of in, "It was just a joke". But you know it really wasn't."
Those Political Leaders
"Gandhi was a racist, sexist and actively encourage Casteism in India. The inspiring story you hear about his protest in South Africa is a myth."
"Thomas Jefferson was all kinds of hypocritical. On one hand he claimed slavery was bad, and on the other kept over 200 slaves."
"Getting shot and being handsome allowed people to overlook the Bay of Pigs, his womanizing and mafia connections as well as his numerous destructive political policies."
"An old co worker worked with her. She was a former nun who said mother Teresa was ruthless and cruel to all of the nuns who worked alongside her."
"She believed in salvation through suffering so her aims were not to heal people but to "park" them and let them suffer without painkillers before dying."
"Also she used her celebrity to amass charity money and use it to other goals like missionary work and line the pockets of the Vatican."
"As well as having her nuns baptise those of different faiths without their knowledge or consent. They would ask the patients if they wanted to be saved (paraphrasing), and without any further details being asked, her nuns would baptise them on their death beds."
"I’m not seeing John Muir in here. Yes, the Father of the National parks made absolute certain indigenous people were NOT included in any of this process as he wiped them out and they’re practices. Yosemite would most likely be much more lush and fertile had he let the native people take care of it."
Saving The Wrong Person
"John Smith from Pocahontas, that motherf*cker deserves to rot"
"Saw a good art about 'What if Pocahontas was a dude'"
"It ends with him shooting Pocahontas in their first meeting."
– Deleted User
Even The Scientists Aren't All Good
"Issac newton, while arguably the greatest physicist ever, was a pretty big POS."
"He was very closed-minded and didn't like criticism. After quickly becoming famous for his incredible works, he frequently abused his powers to bury works intended to contradict his own."
My, How Despressing
"A shorter list would be "Which of history's good guys were truly good guys and not later found out to be complete a$holes.""
Is anyone a good guy?
Do you have anyone you'd add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Have you ever found something out or learned something new that you wish you had known earlier in your life?
For me, I wish I learned earlier in life that reading underneath your covers with a flashlight will ruin your sight. I fear I’ve done irreparable damage to my eyes.
Redditors have admitted there are lessons they learned too late in life as well. In fact, they admit there are some lessons that everyone learns too late in life.
Curious as to what those lessons are, a Redditor asked:
“What do people learn too late?”
Take Care Of Your Body
"To protect their ears, you don't want to live with tinnitus for the rest of your life because you were exposed to a loud noise once"
"Learned this one too late. I can ignore it most of the time, but some nights."
"Take care of your teeth."
"Setting and respecting boundaries, how to give a genuine apology, and other such communication 101 skills."
– Deleted User
"Yes! Boundaries, 100%. It's not rude or selfish (or unladylike!) to treat yourself with respect."
"The apology thing is huge. I'm starting to get the impression most people don't know how to give a real apology (or just won't)"
"Not communicating with my wife almost destroyed my marriage. I’m finally learning to tell my wife how I feel."
Write, Write, Write
"The importance of writing skills for formal contexts."
"Writing is an important skill in nearly any field and the more a career advances the more important it becomes. The lack of adequate writing skill often holds back a career."
"Yet many people squander their opportunities to learn writing because they think their class assignments are empty busy work and they figure their skills in spoken English and informal text messages will carry over when they need to write for work"
Love While You Live
"That the cliche "you never know when it's the last time you'll see to someone" should absolutely be remembered for every occasion. My best friend just died in a car accident this past Saturday, and the last time I saw him we got in an argument and he left and we didn't speak after that. I'm destroyed by it"
"I do have a great support circle outside of this, but all these replies and condolences really shows the empathy complete strangers can have"
"My grandpa passed away two weeks ago from cancer. We flew to Saskatchewan (where he lives) and managed to see him. I talked with him and gave him a hug. Before we left, I had the felling that I was never seeing him again. I snuck back into the room and gave him one last hug and told him that I will miss him. He died 6 hours later. I’m so grateful for whatever it was that told me to see him one last time before we went home."
"What not to share on the internet."
"Everytime I see my Facebook memories I die a little bit on the inside"
...And Professional Privacy
"Or at work. Co-workers are not friends!"
"I just worked with a lady this past weekend and told her I'm trying to bid to another department. It's more money and a much easier job to do for 12 hours."
"Within the next 2 hours she was arguing with my boss about something and tells him that he's the reason why everyone is trying to bid out and I'm going somewhere else."
Laziness Doesn't Pay
"Sitting on your @ss all day is not good for your health at all."
"rolls over onto stomach instead"
"Sitting is the new smoking.”
"It’s silly, but seeing as how my heavy-smoking mother passed away and I sit a lot during the day (work, commute, hobby) that sentence motivated me to become more active (go for walks, runs, and to the gym)."
Just Say No
"That "no" is a complete sentence. Don't get in the habit of auto-launching explanations and defenses - oftentimes, the people listening will ignore all that anyway and just hear "but here's an opportunity to dissuade me, look how hard I'm working to get your approval to say no to you!""
Purge The Toxicity
"The value of walking away from someone toxic in your life, even if it is your parents and family. If you are thinking of it and are scared and have somewhere where you can land in a safe place, then do it. It hurts like hell for a long while, but it gets better and one day you realize how peaceful your life is and you find you only miss the family you wish you had had."
"Yes. Also, find a support net but for your own sanity, just avoid the topic with people who are curious. Not many people understand and will try to talk you into making up with your family."
"It's so hard in the beginning but it gets much easier. You find your own people, create your own families, and your own peace."
In A Rich Man's World
"Interest rates, credit cards, credit score, money saving techniques, 401K. In other words anything that keeps you from being trapped by poor money management."
"How to manage their finances."
"Lesson #1: $1000 is not a lot to have, but it's a lot to owe."
Pilot Your Own Life
"That's being wrong and changing your mind is actually nothing to be ashamed of."
Never Too Late
"That it's never too late to learn."
I sure hope that's true. The one thing I've learned is that there’s still so much left to learn!