Choosing to follow the news in mainstream media is like making the decision to slowly poison myself. Most reports are incredibly negative and can turn a good mood to bad immediately. I already spend a lot of my day combating negativity. I see it at the office, in the car, at the store, and on the radio. It is everywhere. Why? Because negativity sells.
Negativity bias is the idea that our brains are hardwired to register negative interactions with more sensitivity. Several marketing studies show that negative interactions with a business are far more likely to spread than positive ones because of this sensitivity. There is something about being upset that causes people to become information spewing volcanoes covering everyone they come into contact with. When the feelings are positive, however, we simply register the positive interaction and move about our day, usually never mentioning the experience to anyone.
News is no different. Violence, corruption, death and dismay project and infiltrate our minds. Everyone wants to hear about what celebrity is in trouble with the law, what the death toll is for shootings this year, or how we’re polluting our air faster than we can breathe it, which is probably an exaggeration. Probably. And since journalists, newspapers, news anchors, and new shows all want to be the one to get your attention, this is their gold.
Personally, I don’t want to hear about any of this. But when I hear one story, it’s like a car accident; I can’t look away. Morbid curiosity sucks me in and before I know it, I’m in a never-ending, downward spiral of stories that get progressively worse. I feel like I’m watching the demise of civilization unfold before my eyes. Suddenly, I’m depressed and all I want to do is hug a baby and eat lots of ice cream.
The recurrence of this emotional roller coaster every day made me do something drastic. I made the decision to no longer read or watch the news.
Due to its incredibly depressing nature, I’ve always had an aversion to it. Now that I’m an adult, though, I feel the need to know on what is going on in the world. Reading and watching the news is the most obvious and logical way to do that.
To those who agree that we need to be watching and reading the news, let me ask you something. Why? What do I have to gain.
The News Lies
The news in the mainstream media is not completely real. Let’s just get that out there right now. It’s horribly skewed. Overall crime is at an all time low since the 70’s, with violent crime having steadily decreased since the 90’s. It’s not happening more, it’s just broadcast more. One days worth of news in any national newspaper or on any evening newscast will have even the bravest convinced that we are more violent than ever. We start to think that the only way to protect our children is to never allow them out of our sight.. In doing so, we take away their childhoods and their ability to learn and thrive independently. What kind of a way to live is that? I don’t want to be constantly in fear. I don’t want to restrict my child’s growth.
Tragedy sells. It keeps us coming back for more. It sells newspapers, keeps viewers tuned in and stimulates the economy. There are studies that have shown a spike in background checks for gun sales every time the media covers a mass shooting. I’m all for knowing about it, but we cover it to an unhealthy extreme.
Is there an alternative?
I’m not against knowing what is going on in the world. It is important and we should be informed…to an extent. We should also understand our history so we don’t repeat it. I’m not saying that we should pretend everything is sunshine and roses and not protect ourselves from possible dangers. Danger is real. It’s out there and it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves and others when we can. Fear-mongering in the news, however, has caused our society to shift from a prepared and conscientious community to one filled with suspicious, racist, judgmental people afraid to let their kids ride their bikes around the block alone.
None of this is doing anyone any good. We’re stunting our kids independent development by being overprotective and living in constant fear of things that will most likely never happen.
Since I want to continue to know what’s happening around the world, but don’t want to hear about nothing but awful things, I’m choosing the alternative so that I can live a better life and focus on the joy of living, not the fear of danger. I’ve turned off the news, put down the newspaper (or news app) and focused on the good I see around me every day.
I don’t want to live constantly afraid of what might happen and trying to foresee every possible terrible thing that could happen to my family. And I definitely don’t want to pass that negativity and fear on to my son.
For now, the only news I’ll focus on is the good stuff. I think if we all focus a little more on the good we can start the shift in our society back to living free and happy lives. Better lives. The negative news will still find it’s way in. Without a doubt, I’ll still hear about the natural disasters, the mass shootings, and the latest celebrity scandal. That’s the point; the nature of the beast is to pass itself around whether you want to hear it or not. I’m simply making the choice to not bring it on myself more than necessary.
Alternative News Sources
If you would like to join me in reducing mass-negativity and taking in only the good stuff, here are a few sites that strive to focus on only the good things in the news, spreading positivity and happiness in their wake.
Good News Network– The self-proclaimed “antidote to the barrage of negativity experienced in the mainstream media.”
Sunny Skyz– Founder Christopher Fillippou’s goal is simple: “When you visit Sunny Skyz, I want you to leave with a smile on your face.”
Daily Good– A site dedicated to promoting “positive and uplifting news around the world.”
How do you feel about the news? Do you agree that it’s too negative? Do you disagree with my decision to turn off the news in my home? How do you handle the negativity that you hear in the reports?
Let me know in the comments!
-To your Better Life-