By Virginia Eaton —
I do not have cable or network television at home because my peace of mind cannot handle crisis media, which seems to be all that is offered these days. During the last few months, we have been inundated with horror, terror and sadness, as our world seemingly devolves into a post-apocalyptic zombie movie. There is a piece of me that wants to be an engaged citizen, able to talk intelligently about world affairs, however, my mental and emotional equilibrium can’t withstand the constant barrage of death and destruction. I am struggling to see the value of understanding our world through the lens that most media outlets have chosen to use. Media outlets choose what to feed us, and the only thing on the menu these days seems to be carnage diet.
Each story that news and talk shows broadcast gives us an understanding of our world and how it operates; these stories tell us what to fear. It is much easier to control a population that is afraid, than one that is secure. It is not about government conspiracies — it’s about the money, and giant news outlets are making tons of money framing how we see the world and our place in a global network.
The fear factor in turning on the television makes me curious about what is not being talked about around the world, and why? In the midst of, or perhaps in spite of, the carnage and destruction that major news outlets feed us, there are examples of humans behaving in enlightened ways, of events that would lift our spirit rather than tear it down, yet the consensus among those who select our news is that these stories are not relevant or will not bring viewership: this is code for it won’t bring the dough! Sometimes we hear of stories of heroism or courage but these stories are often secondary, offered up as extraordinary stories rather than typical stories, and they are told within the context of horrific circumstances.
What if the story was told the other way around? What if the courage and heroism of humans beings were presented as the norm, as the context and then, as an aside, we talked about the other? The events in Paris and San Bernardino are horrific, terrifying events that need to be spoken of, need to be explained and examined, but I would like to see the major news outlets use a more complex lens as we spend days, weeks and hours rehashing the same information. We seem to have a formulaic way of reporting events, and while these methods may bring revenue to the media, they bring anxiety and one-dimensional thinking to the audience. We are smarter than the media gives us credit for; we are able to process complex ideas around what is happening. Spoon-feeding us horror that passes as news insults my intelligence and forces me, and I would imagine many of us, to withdraw from being engaged citizens.
This is why I do not watch or listen to large, corporate news, and this is why my television does not receive CNN or FOX news: the pain and despair that accompanies the information is unbearable. Corporate media outlets are not going to change how they present the news as it lines their pockets too finely so, what to do?
The solution to managing nightmarish amounts of negative news is to turn it off. I promise you, your life will be no safer or more secure after watching four hours of news-rehash. What will make you feel calmer, safer, and more secure is making real connections with real people. Take your gaze away from electronic data, even the positive kind, and have a face-to-face conversation with an actual person. Gaze into the eyes of another human being and your body will respond by releasing hormones that make you feel good, that will calm and connect you. The antidote to inhuman destruction and mayhem is human connection.
Try it and tell me what you think.