Bad News Sells….

After a great morning on the golf course I returned home to discover a spectacular five car pileup in front of Monroe Pointe aka Casa Kenny. There was a long traffic backup as the rubber necks wanted to catch some sort of glimpse of the blood and gore. There was one idiot running a STOP sign and four innocent bystanders. Live pictures at Five.

You have to wonder about the obsession with bad news. Life is good or so it would seem. Maybe not as we are often compelled to go to the dark side. Is it maudlin curiosity or outright fear? Hard to tell. We have mass shootings both here and abroad. It seems the larger the populace the greater chance for mayhem. Bad things don’t usually happen in small towns. Not so in Knoxville and Chicago. Nor Baghdad and Nairobi. Drought, floods, wildfires and tornados. All grist for this thing we call our mind.

For a moment let’s just observe without making judgment calls. Your phone rings and it is someone who haven’t heard from in a while. Immediately one asks “What’s wrong?” Well I have prostate cancer. “Holy crap are you going to die?” Unfortunately no. You will have to put off shopping for black or dusting off your barely used suit and that out of date tie…at least for a while.

The TV blares “Breaking News”. “Presidential Address”. We all sit up and take notice. Just the words, Crisis, Blockades, Sanctions, Plane Down, Wildfires, Floods, Drought conjure up a whole set of attitudes before we know anything about what the actual facts are. It has to be bad. Real bad.

It seems we are wired as such. Our caveman roots cause us to be ever vigilant. Suspect the worst because it is how we maintain our edge. The old “Fight or Flight” reaction keeps us on our toes. There is more brain activity associated with fear and danger than with soothing music and Elysian fields. Unfortunately this gets translated into drama, pessimism, paranoia and ultimately depression if we let it go too far. The problem is these feeling are visceral to the core. In a perverse way we enjoy it.

We compare ourselves to one another every day. If you see some poor bastard in a worse state we say there but for the grace of God go I. Oh you or your loved one has a terminal illness. Phew, I just dodged another bullet. It is probably why we hate the Yankees or the Mother Teresas of the world. They do things we can’t ever hope to accomplish so we either ignore or revile them . It is just easier on the psyche that way.

If we were just left alone to our misery that would be wonderful but the marketers of the world won’t let you lie still. We are going to pick you up and fix your ills. We are going to prey on your weakness and show you the ideal you have been missing. Viagra, Tagamet, some Beta blocker or the latest golf gadget. We can cure it all. Or so we say.

Not to be left out, our politicians see all this as red meat. The public is pissed off at Washington so I will pronounce myself the savior. If you are Democrat, Hillary will lift you out of the depths and like Moses show you the Promised Land. It is called playing to the base. Just keep teeing up totally impractical ideas and they will believe you can do it. Promise the world until you get elected and then blame it on the other side for their intransigence. This is good stuff.

The Donald is really taking the country by storm. He is brash, outspoken, arrogant and defies the logic of any question with his answers. Who cares? He is against the reigning bums. He’s against immigrants so the workers like him. He wants to make life great for the successful. He gets in people’s faces and everyone from Joe Six Pack to the A list love him. Beware Republicans! Beware. No one ever said politics made sense.

In our age of social media there is a phenomena. People don’t pass bad stuff on to others. Facebook pages don’t display blood and gore. It seems to stop at the person. They do forward things that are uplifting by a count of seven to one. It seems when they are moved or in awe about something they want to shout to the world. Call it a poor man or woman’s evangelization. This is what they want to share and in that there is an interesting positive in our world.

ISIS has taken over the internet for the sick and disenfranchised. They have performed brilliantly and in quite an expert fashion when it comes to producing their vitriol in a compelling way. We are turned off and shocked. The unemployed and itinerant youth of some God forsaken place sees this as cool and inviting. This is where we have to counter attack. They are raising jihadists from small boys they have captured to malcontents who wander into their camps. There is a lesson to be learned.

Media of all sorts and to the extent we listen has an enormous impact on our lives and our minds.We are bombarded thousands of times a day by messages large and small. Whether it is the news we watch or the ad that flashes by for both us and our kids it formulates our opinions and our beliefs. Bad news sells. I get it. But then again it really doesn’t have to.
As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Yankelvich Research says we receive 2,000-20,000 marketing messages every day. Those higher numbers include every time you pass by a label in a grocery store, all the ads in your mailbox whether you see them or not, the label on everything you wear, etc.

• An average child sees 30,000 TV commercials in a year.
• By the time they reach the age of 65, the average American will have seen two million TV commercials

• According to the A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day (that’s more than 52 days of nonstop TV-watching per year).
• Parents spend 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.

Our news magazines like Time et alia have shrunk down to nothing. Most advertising is not print but on TV and the Internet. In 2013 Internet advertising reached $49 billion.

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