The very real danger that comes with access to a constant barrage of manipulative, anger-stoking news is a perennial sense of dread, despair, and hopelessness. A ceaseless ticker that continuously prophesies the end of the world as we know it fosters a population inundated with misinformation and stuck inside an oxygen-deprived sustained sense of angst. Frozen in fear, waiting for the other shoe to fall, or boiling with rage, ready to wage war on the other side, are equally detrimental emotional states.
When ratings rely on glued eyeballs to support inflated ad budgets, there is a hefty premium and a priority placed on one thing: force-feeding content until our stomachs explode and then convincing us we’re still starving.
The worst abusers of that revenue model are FOX, CNN, and MSNBC. This is not vetted, hard-hitting journalism. It’s entertainment. It’s pro wrestling masquerading as essential information. But when fingers full of advertising dollars are pushing the buttons and pulling the levers, nothing is fair. Nothing is balanced. Everything is not breaking news.
The most detrimental, divisive force in the history of this country has been the advent and adoption of the 24-hour news cycle.
A society that leaned on the nightly news for an unbiased, agenda-free presentation of the day’s events now happily suckles at the teat of major multibillion-dollar monsters intent on keeping us just outraged enough to continue watching.
Luckily, real news still exists. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to find. There is an abundance of deep-dive, well-researched investigative pieces waiting for open ears in the podcast world, but not everyone spends the majority of their time streaming endless hours of audio content the way I tend to do, so sometimes that’s a tough ask.
Reading posted online articles is another way of filtering out blatant advertising exploitation by adopting a simple subscription model. But again, heavy lifting is not the default setting for most Americans…and reading, unfortunately, takes an even more distant backseat.
So we’re left with sloping, albatross-laden necks, twisted and bent from our own poor planning and lack of foresight. Unfortunately, easy, accessible, and unremittingly present cable news is a dirty dragon that seems to continue finding new ways to escape the slay.
The best we can do is keep our swords sharp and wait for a window.