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Stay Focused; There’s No Time for Media Hype or Spin

Be selective as to where you offer your time and attention.

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Decades back, my friend, Bill Halloran, liked to listen to Howard Stern in the morning. Year after year on his way to work, Bill was titillated by Howard Stern’s shock talk. Hundreds of thousands of working professionals must have felt the same way. Howard is now a multi-millionaire.

Stern offered no sense of breathing space to Bill. After hearing Stern, no one was empowered, energized, or better able to face the day. He was, in essence, an electronic fix, a drug, if you will, that briefly took you out of your own life and into some form of contemptuous humor that got you through the next ten minutes. Even among those who know this on some level, why did so many people listen? The answer is what I call “electronic addiction.”

The Anxiety of Electronic Addiction

As a society, our expo­sure to the media, including the internet, has increased several hundred percent within a few decades, and while worldwide media coverage provides many bene­fits, it also has quite a few side effects. As we spend more and more hours glued to electronic media, we are exposed to tens of thou­sands of messages and images. Just as too much food at one sit­ting, isn’t easily in­gested, neither is too much data in any form.

Concurrent with the deluge, we have become an anxious society that uses electronics to not feel alone, evade confronting why we can’t seem to get what we want, or to avoid better use of the hours we say we so earnestly want. We retain, embrace and offer rapt attention to all forms of media, and to the devices transmitting them to us. So it’s logical that we then make million dollar super­stars out of TV meteo­rologists and morning exercise show hosts.

The shrinking attention span – Our cultural, elec­tronic addiction to the mass media inverts our per­cep­tion of available time, and diminishes our attention spans. Hence the Howard Sterns of the airwaves capture the attention of otherwise distracted listeners. Tele­vision and radio news and features are growing ever shorter to match the fragmented, de­creasing attention spans of viewers.

Try this: For the next minute, stare at your watch, or if that’s too boring, think about something pleasur­able you’re going to do today­. Your per­cep­tion of the length of a minute will dif­fer vastly from using that minute to listen to the news or read a page from a magazine.

Warning: The exercise you were going to do for a full minute may have just failed. Our culture is so com­mit­ted to mo­tion and to in­form­ation intake that you might be unable to make your­self stare at your watch or simply contemplate for one minute, even when the thought is of something pleasurable!

The Rise of Sensationalism

Around the turn of the century, to build his newspaper chain faster and to sell more papers, William Randolph Hearst used sen­sationalism to heighten the most mundane of stories. For exam­ple, if one of his reporters turned in a story about a dog who got his foot stuck in a sewer grate, Hearst would have the head­line changed to read,

“CANINE TRAPPED IN TUNNEL OF DEATH.”

Hearst perceived that the public was interested in prominent names, and he loaded the paper with them. For several years he worked the “signed statement” racket for all it was worth. The method involved simply sending an inquiry to any person of promi­nence. When a courteous reply was received, it was immediately slapped into print.

In every city having a Hearst paper, an index was kept of people willing to be quoted along certain lines. For example, if Hearst favored the Navy’s buying big battleships, a list of retired admirals would be taken from the files, and each of the old gentlemen would be approached for his opinion. Those who agreed would be heavily quoted in articles, i.e., “Retired Admiral XYZ Says Navy Lacking In…”

I find it remarkable that the Pulitzer Prize, an award alleged to represent the highest aspirations and achievements in journalism, is named for Mr. Joseph Pulitzer. While Pulitzer did not originate sensationalism, he played a crucial role in the history of American journal­ism simply by living at a time when social and economic changes enabled sensationalism to flourish.

Pulitzer used frivolous pictures, poetry, short stories, and the like, to make the newspaper a medium to entertain as well as inform. Pulitzer borrowed ideas of sensationalism that were not his own and brought them up to date to fit a modern America of cities and factories.

When Pulitzer set up shop in New York, he wanted to achieve the greatest circulation in America’s history. He needed a large circulation to have a platform from which his liberal principles could be heard. To obtain it, he had to win the confidence, as well as excite the interest, of the masses of people. Many features that appealed to a working-class audience – pictures, lurid accounts of crime and violence, the air of irreverence – were bound to appeal to others as well.

Overstimulated and Distracted

To this day, to capture an overstimulated, distracted population, contemporary television and other news media rely more and more on sensation­alism. It’s in­grained in the nature of broadcasting, and it’s hazardous to our awareness.

With a planet of nearly eight billion people, the media are easily fur­nished with an endless supply of turmoil for mass transmis­sion. At any moment somebody is fomenting revolu­tion some­where. Such turmoil is pack­aged daily for the 24 hour news cycle.

We are lured with images of crashes, hostages, and natural dis­asters. We offer our time and rapt atten­tion to each new hos­tility, scandal or disaster. Far more people die annually from choking on food than in plane crashes or by guns, but crashes and shootings make for great footage, and play into people’s fears.

Your chance of dying from a commercial airplane mis­hap actual­ly is one in 2,600,000. So, you need only be con­cerned if you fly five flights per week, 52 weeks per year, for several thousand years.

Unless it directly affects you or your com­munity, give up offer­ing any attention, whatsoever, to news coverage of specta­cular crashes and train wrecks, etc. If you’re con­cerned about reducing the incidence of violent death, learn the Heimlich maneuver or CPR. But puuleeeease, stop being enthralled by spec­tacular media cover­age of non-imperative events and sensa­tionalized trivia.

Gaining Control

It is not immoral to not “keep up” with the news. However to “tune out” – turn your back on the world is not appropriate either. Being more selective in what you give your attention to, and to how long you give it, makes more sense.

There is little utility in in­tel­lectually reson­ating with the world’s challenges and problems. Pick one cause or one issue, and take some kind of action outside your home. For most of us on the Right, the burning issue today is reclaiming our country from Leftist zealots.

Action is customarily invigorating. Your ability to make a real, if minute, difference will immediat­ely lessen your concerns about attaining some breathing space.

Tomorrow morning, quietly envision how you would like your day to be. Include every­thing that’s import­ant to you – the commute if you make one, entering your building or your office, sitting down at your desk, handling tasks, and taking breaks.

Envision interacting with others, going to lunch, conducting or attending meetings, using the phone, finishing up projects, and walking out in the evening. With this exercise alone, you’ll begin to feel a greater sense of control in aspects of your job that you might have considered uncontrollable.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com



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News

The Great Con Pt 3: The CoronaVirus Con

Their Motto? Never let a crisis go to waste.

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This is Part 3 of the The Great Con: How the Radical Left Stole America and What You Can Do to Stop It

You can find previous videos Here:

Introduction to the Great Con

The Great Con Pt 1: The Social Media Con

The Great Con Pt 2: The Russia Con

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Faith

Truth: How We Handle it Reveals Our National Character

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truth
Photo by Michael Carruth

We’re losing it, America. We’re losing our country, our pride, our sense of fairness and rightness, our justice and freedom, our uniqueness—our everything. What happened? How are we losing our way after only three and a half generations as a nation? One word: truth. We’ve mangled, devalued, redefined and diluted it.

We’ve warped our perception of truth. We treat it à la carte: selecting what we like, rejecting what we don’t. We replace it with “my truth,” which is rooted in desire rather than reality. Instead of discerning genuine truth with our heads, we embrace desirable falsehoods with our hearts. When we do this consistently, we lose the ability to think critically. We base our beliefs on our fickle feelings rather than on immutable truth.

When we ignore truth’s essential nature—its objectivity—we lose the ability to weigh opinions and assertions against it. Without truth’s constancy, we lose a fixed reference point. We’re like mariners navigating without the North Star.

This failure leaves us open to accepting others’ truths and well-intentioned falsehoods—even when their truths are diametrically opposed to reality.

True believers

It’s not that others mean to mislead us. Most don’t do so consciously or nefariously. Almost all are true believers. They swapped truth for their truths long ago. Most are professors, politicians and pundits who’ve had a lot of practice pontificating at podiums and in front of cameras.

What makes them effective in eroding our trust in truth is their passion. They believe what they believe more than we believe what we believe. It’s a power play. College professors tell students what is true; they don’t teach them to think for themselves. Defending viewpoints through debate is no longer part of the curriculum.

Professors are so sure of their beliefs and so unwilling to allow spirited dissent and sealed so tightly in their echo chambers that they propagandize rather than prepare students for the real world. Same goes for celebrities, senators and talking heads.

Is it any wonder that our social media interactions are drenched in talking points and accepted opinions? Facebook and Twitter are not platforms for respectful discourse or persuasion. Without honest debate and respect for differing viewpoints, many resort to name-calling and shutdown words like troll and hater and racist and bigot.

Dark days and a sure hope

When great nations and empires fall, they erode and crumble from within. How a people handles truth reflects their national character and determines their future.

As Americans, how have we treated truth? By justifying abortion on demand and for convenience as a woman’s “choice?” By discarding basic biology and science by pretending one’s feelings about one’s gender is a matter of choice rather than design? Do we continue trampling truth by rewriting history for political purposes and ignoring context and common sense?

It’s not too late to right our national ship. To do so, we must change course from a heading that’s bearing us toward the shoals of subjectivity to the surety and safety of time-honored truth. As in all things, Jesus is the answer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus invites us to embrace truth and, with it, freedom. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

God is the source of all truth. Rejecting what he says is true and replacing it with subjective, desire-driven falsehoods is a form of rebellion. Accepting the true and the beautiful reality of God leads to joy and peace. When we know there is a firm foundation of truth and goodness and joy, we can rest in it—and in a God who, in truth, loves his children with a perfect and eternal love.

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