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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.

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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Elections

EXCLUSIVE: Arizona Senator Gives Audit Update

Update from AZ Senator JD Mesnard

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Former Speaker of the Arizona House and current Arizona State Senator JD Mesnard gives his update and analysis of the ongoing Arizona audit saga. Check out the video below:

About JD Mesnard:

J.D. Mesnard is a state senator in the Arizona Senate, serving Legislative District 17 (Chandler, Gilbert, and Sun Lakes). He was elected to the Senate on November 6, 2018, after serving eight years in the Arizona House of Representatives, including as Speaker of the House during his final term.

J.D. is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors degree in Music Composition. He also holds two masters degrees, one in Business and the other in Public Administration—exemplifying his interest in both the public and private sectors. Prior to running for office, J.D. spent eight years working at the Arizona Senate where he served as a policy advisor on issues ranging from education, transportation and retirement, to family services and government administration. He is a small business owner, investor and consultant, and has always sought to be an active participant at all levels of the community. He works with charities, churches and non-profits, and is adjunct faculty at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University, where he teaches political science courses. He has been teaching for 14 years.

J.D.’s compassion for those less fortunate—who struggle in places outside of the greatest country on earth—led him to help establish Voices of the World, a non-profit Christian charity whose mission includes providing humanitarian aid to the poor and destitute of the world.

Born at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL (his father is a retired fighter pilot), J.D. has lived in Arizona for nearly 30 years. He resides in Chandler with his wife, Holly, who is a registered nurse, and their daughter, Calielle.

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Business

Your To-Do List: Unforeseen Events Will Arise

No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling tasks, unexpected obligations and interruptions arise that could throw us off our plan.

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Each day you compose your to-do list and begin proceeding merrily down it, do you take into account what is likely to occur in the course of a day? No matter how well we organize our lists and how productive we are in handling the tasks, invariably, unexpected obligations, interruptions, and other developments arise that are going to throw us off our plan.

How do you react when you are humming along and, suddenly, you get an assignment from out of left field? Perhaps your boss has asked you to jump on something immediately. Maybe a client calls. Maybe something gets returned to you that you felt was complete.

If you are like most professionals, you immediately will become flustered. The intrusion on your time and your progress means that you are not going to accomplish all that you set out to before the end of the day. Is there a way to proceed and still feel good about all that you accomplish?

A Supplemental To-do List

I believe there is, and it involves making a miniature, supplemental to-do list that accurately and completely encapsulates the new task you now need to handle.

Why create this supplemental to-do list? It gives you focus and direction, reduces anxiety, and increases the probability that you will remain buoyant at the time of its completion and be able to turn back to what you were doing before the task was assigned.

If you don’t compose such a list, and simply plow headlong into the unexpected challenge that has come your way, you might not proceed effectively, and you might never get back to the to-do list on which you were working.

Unforeseen tasks that arise represent more than intrusions on our time; they represent intrusions on our mental and emotional state of being. Some people are naturally good at handling unexpected situations and often work as public servants, such as police officers and firefighters, or in health care, as nurses and orderlies.

Most of us, however, are not wired like this. Interruptions and intrusions take us off the path that we wanted to follow, and tend to be at least momentarily upsetting. Hereafter, when executing the items on your to-do list, proceed with the mindset that there will be an interruption of some sort. You don’t know when it is coming or how large it will be, but it will pull you off course.

Equanimity Reigns

The key question for you is: Can you develop the capacity to maintain balance and equanimity in the face of such disruptions? The good news is that you can, and it all starts with acknowledging that the situation is likely to happen, devising a supplemental checklist to handle the new task, and as deftly as possible, returning to what you were doing.

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