The News Media Is Making Me Crazy…No I Mean Clinically Insane.

TRUMP  HEADERSince the advent of the 24 Hour news cycle, watching way more news than is good for us has become a serious addiction for some people.
I think I might be one of them.
About 18 months ago I wrote a couple of posts on how the news media seems to be more intent on creating news than reporting it. I did this as kind of an incentive for me to stop being such a news addict.
And it worked. I cut my news habit down to the bare bones essentials. I only watched bits and pieces of the BBC World News show and only a couple times a week.
I figured that seeing what kind of huge shithole the rest of the world was would make me feel better about things right here where I lived.
And it worked, for a while. That ‘while’ lasted only to the beginning of the US presidential primaries. And all of a sudden, I was hopelessly hooked again.

“The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They’re about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover.”

US Senator Al Franken

This is primarily the fault of Donald Trump, and the fascination that the news media has with him. He didn’t even have to become a ratings slut to get coverage, they covered the hell out of him 24/7.
At first I could not figure out what the fascination was with Trump.
He’s a bozo and as he chugged along he just managed to keep outdoing himself, and giving the media more cannon fodder than they could imagine. But also as he chugged along I found myself strangely attracted to anything that had to do with him.
And before I realized it, I was off the wagon and lapping up the ersatz new stories like they were gummy bears. (I love gummy bears).

“The effect of the mass media is not to elicit belief but to maintain the apparatus of addiction.”

Christopher Lasch

Now when you’re addicted to something you always end up getting a lot more than you bargained for. I tried like crazy to be selective about what I watched, and only go for the meatiest Trump stories. But in so doing a got a healthy dose of all the rest of the crap these people talk about.
Before too long I was right back to thinking the world is a colossal shithole and it was just a matter of time before we were all swallowed up by it.
Such is the nature of the news junkie’s life.

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.”

Marshall McLuhan

I have always considered myself a fairly intelligent humanoid. I am well educated, read a lot and write even more. But all it took was one racist, misogynist, bigot to trigger a full blown addiction.
And not to sound elitist (which has become a four letter work on social media), it begs the question of what was happening to the fabled ‘masses’?
Well, I imagine that a good percentage of them have tumbled down the same rabbit hole. Only a significant number of them might be more impressionable that me, and actually start taking Trump seriously.
Which as it turned out, is very much the case.

“It is the emergence of mass media which makes possible the use of propaganda techniques on a societal scale.”

Noam Chomsky

There’s a popular scientific theory that states (more or less), that the nature of any experiment can be affected by the very fact that it is being observed.
I have heard a number of theories about why Trump has become as viable a presidential candidate as he is, despite the facts that he is neither experienced nor in any other way qualified to be president. And I think they might all be valid to some extent.
But in my view, I put the lion’s share of this on the media’s fascinated scrutiny of Trump. His arrogance and general ridiculousness has somehow made him interesting enough to devote a ton of coverage to and that is fuel the obsession with him.
By the same token, I consider my fascination with what is essentially a news media construct to be a huge contributing factor in my self-professed insanity.

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.”

Noam Chomsky

I’m writing this post as an urgent plea to myself to stop paying so much attention. Because in my heart I would really like to be able to go back to believing that the world is not a massive shithole waiting to self destruct.
So file this under self-therapy.
And, if you have read this far, please take a moment to consider your own current state of media addiction. If you find that you are as addicted as I me, please, just put down the remote and back away from the TV. Delete the news links on your phone and computer too.
You will find as I did once and hope to again, that the world is not a huge shithole, But doing quite well despite minor bits of turbulence here and there.
You can thank me later.
Post Script:
As you hopefully noticed, there is and occasional bit of satire going on here. But it’s wise to remember that all satire has its basis in reality.

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https://onwordsandupwords.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/small-business-communications-for-the-real-world/
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All content copyright 2016 Jim Murray. All rights reserved.

 

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