Lesson 58: Don’t trust the news.

If it bleeds, it leads. Poster
“If it bleeds, it leads.” mutzurwut.de/2011/posters

It’s so easy to believe the hype that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I mean – everyone says it’s true, right? Turn on any TV, open any paper, scroll through Facebook… there’s nothing but bad news.

Screw the media. Yes that’s right, I said it. As an advertising major at The Ohio State University’s Journalism school, I was required to take Journalism courses. And you know what I learned? That journalists are taught to decide what story they want to report, then find the facts that back up that angle. Anything they find that doesn’t support that angle gets thrown out.

And us advertising peeps get accused of twisting the truth.

If it bleeds it leads, as they say. Remember this the next time you’re eating your bagel while watching or reading about another shooting, hate crime, or corrupt politician. Those stories are selected because they know you’ll watch them. Even if it’s bad for your digestion – which it really is.

Yes, fear and death and blood sell. But that doesn’t make it entirely true. Stop buying it. There’s good stuff happening out there, people – can we focus on that?

I am a firm believer that Michael Moore is right, “We are a people easily manipulated by fear which causes us to arm ourselves.” And the media focuses on what’s WRONG in the world because they know you’ll tune in.

Stop tuning in!

And stop talking about it. Yes, there are terrorists that hate everyone, and global warming (yes there is), and horrible atrocities happening daily. I have made it my life mission to fight a few of them. And I sign at least 3 petitions a day to stop some of it. But there’s also so much going right.

There was a whole article in Time Magazine last week about how much better things are in the U.S. – including the fact that not only have 248,000 jobs been added in each of the past 5 months, but also:

crime rates, teen pregnancy and carbon emissions are down, public-education outcomes are improving dramatically, inflation in health care costs is at a half-century low… Americans may still feel discontented, but winter is finally over.”

Even in my beloved Chicago, the “murder capital of the U.S.,” the number of homicides has fallen to the lowest level since 1963.

1963! Where are these headlines?

My mom and I were having lunch last week when a dear friend from high school came over to say hello. She and her friend were all in a tizzy about the chaos in Israel. They were concerned about the reports that anti-Semitism seems to be on the rise. They warned me about going to Paris this fall. Their kids could be in danger. The sky was falling…!

I got a knot in my stomach and couldn’t eat my awesome falafel salad.

I have no way to know for sure if these reports are true, especially since I refuse to read the paper or watch the news for reasons I’ve stated above. But I am sure that the media is RUNNING to cover any Israel/Jew-hating gathering that happens right now. It’s the topic du jour. Which makes it LOOK like there are more of them happening. But that’s not necessarily true.

I choose love over fear. I choose to believe that there are more people on this planet that want peace and love and happiness. Even if the media only shows us the 1% that choose war and hate and misery. It doesn’t make it true.

I also believe that you see what you choose to see. And you attract more of what you talk about and see in the world. So let’s talk about good things – all the wonderful growth and change that is happening in the world now. Sign up for Daily Good and see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Maybe that sounds like ignoring some serious problems, but I disagree. They’re there, but unless there is something I can directly do to change them, what is the point in discussing the problems? All it does is create anxiety.

In fact, creating peace and love in our own homes IS something we can do to create positive change. It starts there. Plus, the best way to fight hate is often not to give it any energy or attention.

Like any bully, when it doesn’t get the reaction it is looking for, it often goes away…

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