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The Anxiety of Electronic Addiction

While global media coverage provides many benefits, it also has quite a few side effects

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Much of our nation stays glued to a TV screen, computer screen, and cellphone screen, and as a society, our exposure to the media has increased several hundred percent within a few decades. While worldwide media coverage provides many benefits, it also has quite a few side effects.

As we spend more and more hours tuned to electronic media, we are exposed to tens of thousands of messages and images. Similarly to too much food at one sitting, too much data at once isn’t easily ingested.

The average person spends more than eight solid years watching electronically how other people supposedly live. Forty years ago three major television networks dominated television – ABC, NBC and CBS. Today, well, you know the story… In fact, there are now 500+ full-power independent television stations.

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Some-THING, Speak to Me

We have become an anxious society that uses electronics to not feel alone, to 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.

As each breakthrough in communication and entertainment technology is introduced, it is accompanied by predictions of doom for its predecessors. Television was supposed to have finished radio. VCRs and then DVDs and DVRs were supposed to have finished off movie theaters. It hasn’t happened yet.

We retain, embrace, and offer rapt attention to all forms of media, and to the devices that transmit them to us. Our cultural and electronic addiction to the mass media not only inverts our perception of available time, but also diminishes our attention spans. Television and radio news features grow shorter and 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 undertake for a full minute may have just failed.

Our culture is so committed to motion and to information intake that you may 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

More than 100 years ago, William Randolph Hearst used sensationalism to heighten the most mundane of stories in order to sell more papers. For example, if one of his reporters turned in a story about a dog that got a foot stuck in a sewer grate, Hearst would have the headline changed to read, “CANINE TRAPPED IN TUNNEL OF DEATH.”

Today, to capture an over-stimulated, distracted population, television and other news media relies more and more on sensationalism. It’s now ingrained in the nature of broadcasting, and it’s hazardous to your breathing space. With a planet of more than five billion people, the various forms of media are easily furnished with an endless supply of turmoil for mass transmission. At any given moment, somebody is fomenting revolution somewhere. Such turmoil is packaged daily for the evening news.

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.

According to a study from The Economist, your chance of dying from a domestic, commercial airplane mishap actually is quite small. You only need to be concerned if you fly 100 times per year, for thousands of years.

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

Take Control

You can’t afford to pay homage to everyone else’s 15 minutes of fame. Tomorrow morning when getting ready for work, rather than switching on the radio or TV, quietly envision how you would like your day to be. Include everything that’s important to you – the commute, 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.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is 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. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Guns

The Age of Rage

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Many Republicans are seething in response to Biden’s destructive agenda that has contributed to high inflation, ad exploding deficit, urban lawlessness, and an out-of-control Southern border. More and more Americans are eager to turn their anger into a November landslide against Democrats. They’re tired of the rampant lawlessness, the irresponsible DAs unwilling to prosecute criminals, and the deficit spending that has unleashed inflation impacting the lives of every American.

The recent leak about the reversal of Roe v. Wade has given woke extremists all they need to justify angry, even violent, demonstrations. The decision is not even final, but liberals are marching on the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices. Some justices have moved from their homes to ensure the safety of their families.

The lockdowns and restrictions tied to the COVID pandemic have certainly added to the anger of many citizens. People watch shows that reinforce their own views. Such one-sided journalism helps justify violent actions. But let’s be clear. Viewers respond with high ratings from the steady stream of extremists. Rage is the “eye candy” that now attracts viewers. Yes, there are extreme views expressed on either side of our political divide, but the vast majority of rage and violence is coming from the left.

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Press Secretary Jen Psaki has complained about threats and personal attacks, but Republicans point out that the party has not publicly shared the addresses of any Biden administration official’s home address.

After the leak of a potential Supreme Court reversal on Roe v. Wade, a pro-abortion protest in downtown Los Angeles turned into a violent clash with law enforcement after officers were called to disperse the increasingly disruptive crowds, resulting in the injury of at least one officer. What started as a small protest outside the city’s federal courthouse building, grew increasingly rowdy and disruptive. The protest grew despite promises from state officials and liberal lawmakers to codify the ability to access abortion in California.

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” claimed to be behind the attack on the offices of Wisconsin Family Action. The “warning” demanded that pro-life organizations disband in 30 days. They claimed, “We have run thin on patience for those who seek to strip us of what little autonomy we have left.” The group claimed that it had groups “all over the U.S.”

Columnist and pundit Victor Davis Hanson wrote, “Politics are resembling the violent last days of the Roman Republic. An illegal leak of a possible impending Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade that would allow state voters to set their own abortion laws has created a national hysteria. Never has a White House tacitly approved mobs of protesters showing up at Supreme Court justices’ homes to rant and bully them into altering their votes.”

Commenting on the angry demonstrations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said it well, “It is an attempt to replace the rule of law with the rule of mobs.” It’s the mobs that get the coverage, and that coverage encourages more attacks.

The rage hasn’t been limited to the abortion issue. In January, the leftist ShutDownDC group picketed outside Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) home in Virginia. Hawley said at the time, “Tonight while I was in Missouri, Antifa scumbags came to our place in DC and threatened my wife and newborn daughter, who can’t travel. They screamed threats, vandalized, and tried to pound open our door. Let me be clear: My family, and I will not be intimidated by leftwing violence.”

Since that threat, there have been seemingly a stream of violent attacks and murders. From the mowing down of innocent black citizens in Buffalo New York, to the ongoing carnage in inner-city Chicago, and to the attack on worshipers at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, the violence is just expanding.

We may have ushered in the age of rage, but the vast majority of Americans do not want it to continue. It’s time we all demand an end to violence and stop legitimizing destructive demonstrations. The answer to hate speech is not violence or forced silence. The answer is more speech, more respectful, thoughtful, even passionate dialogue across our divide. Freedom and rights are only real when you extend and ensure those rights to those who openly disagree with you. Let freedom ring. Let’s return to disagreeing without being quite so disagreeable. Rage may get you on the news, but it doesn’t ensure the future of our republic. Demand more. Start being part of the answer by being responsible for your own actions.

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Life

Ignore Much of What Pundits Have to Say

Can we be confident in advice we receive from people who have not mastered what they teach?

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When the opportunity arose, I attended a lecture by one of the most well-known authors and speakers in America. I had previewed his CD and read two of his books prior to his lecture; in person, he lived up to my expectations. So, I was intrigued when a friend, involved with bringing this speaker to our area relayed a personal incident to me. 

Directly following the speaker’s presentation, my friend was responsible for driving him to the airport, and accompanying him until his flight departed. That summer afternoon, it was rainy and the skies were dark.

As it turned out, the author was a nervous flyer and took several drinks in the airport lounge prior to boarding the plane.  I found this incident to be amazing because I had so often heard him say things such as, “Everything in this universe is perfect.” It struck me that, in many ways, the speaker wasn’t practicing his philosophy. Nevertheless, all human beings have their faults and foibles and, as time passed, I forgot about the incident.

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High-Priced Gurus

One morning, I had the occasion to pick up USA Today. In the lifestyle section, there was a feature on a relationship guru and author of international best-sellers on relationships. She had won the “Oscar” of infomercials, earning $24 million in a single year.  

In this published interview, the reporter asked her why we should listen to a relationship guru who had been married five times. Five times? I couldn’t believe it! She had wedded her fifth husband, some 11 years her junior, only a short time before producing her award-winning infomercial on having a successful relationship. 

In the infomercial, she is featured as having a loving relationship with her husband. Okay, but in no way does the infomercial tell us that he is her fifth husband and that she had married him three weeks ago.

Not Walking their Talk

I had a flash from the past: I recalled the story about the nervous flyer author. Yet, nothing prepared me for the revelations about the relationship guru, a self-proclaimed expert, using the slickest 21st-century marketing available to sell her information and products.  

She was well-versed in her subject matter. Upon hearing her advice, I recognized that it did seem sound. However, the larger issue is, “Can we be confident in the advice we receive from those who have not mastered what they teach, or who do not even remotely walk their talk?”

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