Have you ever heard a news story in the background about something that has happened and you immediately turn to see what is going on? I know I have.
The media knows that it is human nature to do just that and will prey on our concerns about how these stories may affect us. They know that once they have drawn us in, we will listen and take in whatever they tell us about the situation. They know that in order to gain ratings they can play on our emotions and they deliberately withhold information from us to make breaking news situations seem more drastic and ominous than they really are.
Advertisers do exactly the same thing. They make you think that if you don’t buy a certain product or if you don’t vote a certain way then there will be consequences. Again, they are using negativity to take your money and boost their ratings. They make you feel like you have no choice but to do what benefits only them.
In each case, whether news media or advertisers, they are more than willing to twist the truth in order to make themselves more money. The days of actually being able to turn the news on to be informed straightforwardly about local and national issues are long gone.
The same people that claim they support those that talk about their mental health issues are the same people that are going out of their way to make those issues worse.
Words the Media Uses to Scare You
There are also certain words that they know to use to draw you in, some of the biggest include:
- Possible – this could be used in sentences like “There has been a possible outbreak…”. This actually means that there has been no outbreak. “Possible connection between toothache and the air you breath” means that there is no confirmed connection at all. If you hear the word possible, it’s probably not happening right now.
- Our Nation’s – the words “our nation’s” are used to imply some large scale to a story such as “our nation’s water is under threat from…”. This means that actually it isn’t a threat at all to our nation’s water. Our nation isn’t a small place and there isn’t anything that is threatening the whole of the nation’s water.
- Shocking New Details – “After a short break, shocking new details about…”. If it was that shocking and important, they wouldn’t be making us wait.
- An Alarming Percentage – “15% of Britons are at risk of being seriously injured in car accident this year.” If you see a percentage, reverse it. In this case, 85% of Britons are not at risk. It might not still be good but it doesn’t sound as bad as the media like to make it sound.
- Developing Story – “in a developing story…” they don’t have the facts yet but will make stuff up anyway.
- Deadly – “there is a new deadly virus…” makes it sound like anyone who gets the virus will die when the truth is that there is only a small percentage that would perish.
The above is not offered as a comprehensive glossary but I think they are words and phrases that you are sure to recognize.
How to Protect Yourself Against Feeling Overwhelmed
1) Awareness – When we learn to take the media’s message for what it is, we become less susceptible and less automatic in our responses. We think it through logically. Start to listen for certain words that are used that you know will be followed by words and phrases that incite fear and panic. “Could there be a bomb on New Year’s Eve?” Well yes there could, but there could also be one every other day of the year too. If you stay conscious of the truth then you will recognize the lies.
2) Limit Exposure – It is impossible to completely avoid all media but we can limit our exposure to it, especially when it comes to our children’s exposure. Spend more time with each other and less time in front of the TV.
3) Don’t Buy Into the Promise of Happiness – It’s a waste of time and will only serve to make you frustrated. The only place you can really have what you long for is where you are right now with exactly what you’ve got.
4) Choose Print Media – I recommend forgetting about the news on the TV and considering print media instead. Although these still use their own fear tactics, it is much easier to scan the homepage of a website to get an overall feel for what is happening in the world without being exposed to emotionally laden material.
5) Remember That You’re in Control – you have the power to turn off the news at any time. Don’t let them sucker you in with their fear tactics. If you start feeling overwhelmed, tune out.