Stress   (2016Aug03)


Wednesday, August 03, 2016                                           12:58 PM

Myself, my family, my neighbors, and my friends are all suffering from stress. This is a modern-day condition that is nothing new. However, I accuse the media of doing everything they can to increase stress in their viewers. Getting people worried and upset has become their bread-and-butter. When I was younger, we looked to the media to keep us informed—and when something bad happened, like the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Kent State Shooting, it was covered with grave seriousness and sad dignity. It was not virtually celebrated as a new ‘Breaking News’-banner to follow yesterday’s, which followed the day before’s, etc.

The media has become much like the pet cat that graces you every morning with a dead bird on the front stoop. The cat is very proud and pleased, but we are disgusted. When I was younger, the media would sometimes augment their reporting by having a sober, thoughtful expert give us details about the issue. Today’s media has a panel of six ‘commentators’, one of whom may be a sober, thoughtful expert, with the other five being mouthpieces forwarding some spin agenda—changing the subject, roiling the debate, or just out-and-out lying. This is ‘balanced’ reporting? More like unbalanced. And by making every news-segment a shouting contest, the media raises the stress level—and the confusion—surrounding every issue.

Granted, the world is more complex and faster-paced today—and an endless string of sober, thoughtful experts would make for a rather grueling show—ratings would certainly suffer. But, at the end of watching such a show, viewers would come away with some actual information—possibly even facts—instead of confusion and increased blood pressure. Today’s media is more like a roller-coaster ride—viewers feel terrorized and helpless in the face of a kaleidoscope of fears, suspicions, accusations, and uncertainty.

The media refuse to say that anything is simply ‘true’—and there are many philosophical arguments which could support that stance—in the absolute sense. However, on a practical level, there are lots of things that are true, spin-doctors notwithstanding. For instance, lots of people die from being shot with a gun. Lots of women are unfairly paid less than men doing the same work. Lots of veterans are committing suicide. Russia is trying to expand into Ukraine. North Korea is a rogue state. There are facts out there—and they are frightening enough without enhancing our helplessness and fear.

The ‘commentators’ have become so blindly partisan that we can even see the futility in the faces of the anchor-persons forced to give them the dignity and privilege of air-time. That’s not even addressing the partisan news channels that inject their own bias into the news-editing itself.

My neighbor had a panic attack yesterday—and I suspect that she, like me and many others, has her stress-levels exacerbated by the steady drumbeat of fear issuing from our TVs, our PCs, and our I-phones. Modern news reporting should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. They’re making money off of making us worry.

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