People view the world by popular perspective, which is the whole brunt of what Zerubavel was saying in his book Time Maps. He says that “there are so many conflicting interpretations of history” and the varying versions coexist. Furthermore, he argues that people of the world as a collective, looks into the past and organizes the stories into interesting patterns of remembering, that there is an interesting way of how a large body of people construct social memory, in Freud’s sense.
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If we conform to Zerubavel’s claims that “history” as we read and learn from school is not a fixed set of stories, we will suspect that many alternative stories do exist, each narrating a version of how the past transpired and shaped the nations and societies on earth. The interesting point here is how these alternative stories got swamped and hidden from public thought, supposedly caused by a superior story that was able to survive in the history books. The growing suspicion is on the power of popular media. An example of a strong media is the New Testament, which gave people a world view of the “greatness” of the Catholic Church, swamping the hidden story of the Gnostics of Jerusalem. Another is Zerubavel’s provocation about the discovery of America by the Vikings and not Columbus. The existence of hidden versions of the past implies that there were stories who won a place in the official “history” and there were those deemed “incredible” and lost their bid for social memory.
This is because “history is written by the winners”, as Asian scholars claim. The next generation would only read the versions of history that was written by the dominant on earth. In the events of the early 21st century, an objective observer can only discern how world views are shaped mostly by the international media groups such as Reuters and CNN, which are western institutions that revealed their obvious bias against the important hidden reasons of big events like the Iraq War of 2003. For instance, CNN frequently reported about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the early months of that war, and their continuous unfounded reporting could have been an official account of the Iraq War in World History if not for the revelations of Michael Moore that the weapons were a hoax. Even threats of terrorism were eventually revealed as exaggerations and if not for these dissenting voices, could have shaped collective memory (or “world view” in Zerubavel’s sense) and wrongly influenced the next generation of human beings about the reasons for waging war with Iraq. Popular International Media is at fault here in this perversion of history and must bear the heavy responsibility of objective and investigative reporting about big world events. This is because historians frequently refer to news reports for “evidence”, much like we refer to the writings of Virgil about the history of Rome.
Zerubavel said it right that recorded history must be continuously criticized and not taken at face value, because of the probable existence of hidden versions of what really happened in a specific epoch and locality. Stories are still recorded by human agents, which are entities not immune to bias or flickers of emotion. Exaggerations are prone and not improbable in social memory. In our current epoch, International Media plays a big role in shaping world view and it is fortunate that there are the likes of non-Western media groups like Al-Jazeera who provide opposing reports that balance the dominance of the Western perception.
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