The last time I watched the news was when I was in high school. I remember sitting on the couch with my dad and the local reporters were telling us about a cat who got stuck in a tree and the firefighters were struggling to get her out. I remember thinking to myself I cannot believe these people couldn’t come up with anything better to report than this. Don’t get me wrong, I did legitimately feel bad for the poor kitten, but this was clearly a time filler and instead of reporting where we’ve started to make progress in the sciences or poverty, we were forced to sit and watch more negative garbage. It’s as if they knew they had an extra 2 minutes of reporting time and they automatically ruled out all of the positive things going on in the world and found something, anything, negative going on out there.
It as if the news refuses to report anything good going on anywhere so they are forced to find the most dramatic thing possible, even if it’s as frivolous as cats stuck in trees. As a result, we associate “news” with something “negative.” Anytime someone says, “have you been following the news?” we never expect them to say “we’ve made strides with poverty” or “we’ve made progress on finding the cure to cancer,” even when those statements are actually true. It’s usually something along the lines of “some dude somewhere is sick with something that you have as much of a chance of catching as you did as catching the Bird Flu. Be careful out there.”
We never hear about all of the healthy countries, or all of the countries who didn’t have an earthquake shake their population, or how long it’s been since a country has been effected by a Tsunami. We don’t hear about how much money UNICEF has made in an effort to eradicate Iodine deficiency. Or that the March of Dimes has saved so many lives o of premature babies. Your local community has raised thousands of dollars towards fighting breast cancer but instead you are at home watching how Switzerland has made their TSA requirements stronger because of Ebola.
The best example of media manipulation by far is global warming. If you read real science articles, the majority of scientists will tell you that global warming is either 1) a hoax or 2) exists to some degree but is nothing to worry about. Consider who initiated this revolution: Al Gore… a POLITICIAN! He has absolutely no scientific background at all. The earth naturally warms up and cools down on it’s own (hence, Ice Ages). It has nothing to do with our carbon footprint, carbon emissions, or anything that we are doing. But it makes you worry, doesn’t it? That is exactly why the media harps on it so much. However, this blog post is not about Global Warming and I am very anti-using my blog to promote my political beliefs, so moving on.
Every day people are winning the war against cancer, lives are saved because of your local firefighters, doctors, nurses, lives are changed due to strides in education, science, mathematics, our country is being protected by our soldiers. For everyone person that dies two more are born and will impact the world in ways we can’t imagine. But this is not what the media chooses to focus on.
People ask me “how do you have no idea what is going on in the Middle East?” or “you’re not afraid of catching Ebola?” but to them I ask “do you know who just won the Nobel Peace Prize?” By the way, it was a 17 year old Pakistani woman who won for makes strides for the right for all children to have access to education. She has an amazing story, survived a brain injury after being a target from the Taliban, and still went on to being the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. Pretty incredible right? Definitely didn’t see that on headline news anywhere and no one I know knew. To the media, she was just another number, another target by the Taliban. They didn’t care about who she was, what she was doing, and when she was healed.
People spend hours on end in front of a box that has taken on the responsibility of telling you what to value and what is important. 9 times out of 10, that’s something depressing, negative, or scary. If you don’t believe me, accept my challenge: go to the homepage of any news website, pick up any local newspaper, or change the channel to NBC and look at the headlines. What you’ll find will never be positive.
CNN: “High school players face sex assault charges”
AOL: “Spain increases quarantine amid Ebola fears”
NBC: “Not Just California: Droughts Extend Across Americas”
News reporters have such an incredible opportunity to impact change that they never take advantage of. They can change this world of hatred and pessimists into optimists and positivity. But, instead they have forced us into a world of negativity so we can spend one more night in fear and wake up the next morning afraid to open our eyes to face the world. And for what? The sad reality is fear sells. And we are just manipulations in their stock market.
I recently came across “A Two-Minute Case for Optimism” by Steven Pinker and in it he tells an interesting perspective.
As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story. Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages. Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age.
(Full story can be found here, it’s a great read: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/secretlife/blogposts/steven-pinkers-two-minute-case-for-optimism/)
It angers me that regardless of how much good is going on in the world, the media decides to focus on all that is going wrong in the world instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to open up our eyes to good. Instead of purely focusing on all of the negativity going on in the world, why not focus on any positives? It is the duty of the media in our society to provide us with current events. That’s not always stories of the sick, the murderers, and the rapists. Not all “news” is negative. News should also consist of heroes, game changing scientists, Nobel Peace Prize winners.
No, I have my own values and decide what is important to me and follow those stories. I refuse to allow a black box or pieces of paper to tell me what to value today and then use those values to manipulate my emotions tomorrow. No, I don’t need a man in a suit or writers in New York telling me what to care about in my life. I believe in what I believe, value what I value, and emulate positivism; not live in fear, doubt, or pessimism. I refuse to be a pawn of the media, which is why I never watch the news.