• Anthony Vertino

When your media robs you of joy.


We have 6 primary emotions. They exist in all cultures and are hardwired into our brains. They are recognizable, even without the use of a common language. We recognize them by sight and sound. Emotions evolved within us and are necessary for the survival of the individual and the species. Anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise and joy are their most familiar names.

Media and marketing cleverly operate on these primary emotions. They activate our threat detection network eliciting anger or fear, play upon our sadness and desire to care for others, present material designed for responses of disgust and loathing, or shock us and surprise us into attention and alertness.

Sometimes, with far less frequency, media will lift our spirits (joy).

Additionally, parts of the brain that are responsible for logical thought, tune out during television viewing. The impact of television viewing on one person’s brain state is obviously not enough to conclude that the same consequences apply to everyone. However, many research studies have repeatedly shown that watching television produces brainwaves in the low Alpha range or the most passive and suggestible range of brain wave activity often observed when subjects are under hypnosis.

I was originally going to write this post based solely on political stress. Now, I find myself realizing its much more than that. It’s the media driven stress related to the corona virus and of course, the politicizing of it. As well as, the cancellation and reduction in the number of activities that we use to feel joy.

So, here’s a brief list of some ideas for keeping perspective in these challenging times.

Limit your media exposure – Or in plain language turn that the thing off.

Kind of obvious, but here’s some of the reasons why its important.

Media information including medical discussions or political media reports are positioned to put us in a fight or flight response mode. We are often given information in a confrontational way or in a competitive manner such as Right vs. Left, Liberal vs. Conservative. Polarization of topics affects us most directly, because we are given limited parameters to view the issue. Liberals believe X and conservatives believes Y and the two are at odds. The implication is that you should be at odds with the opposition’s views. These are false premises and cognitive distortions of over-generalization and all or nothing thinking. All conservatives think this way and all liberals think this way and they cannot think any other way.

Because of packaging, marketing, and salesmanship of the information, our ability to choose broader, creative, more inclusive reasoning is limited. This is a tactic that plays on fears of scarcity and lack. There aren’t any other options provided so people often go deeper into fight or flight because of lack of solutions and fear of terrible outcomes.

Powerlessness is also a media tactic. Because you cannot solve the issue in the present moment, your frustration levels are likely to increase. And the conclusions are often of a doomsday scenario. This furthers our fight or flight responses because we feel powerless and afraid of the outcomes.

Also, the media gives us their conclusion with the story, so you don’t have to bother with reasoning it out for yourself. Since you’re already in a suggestible pseudo-hypnotized state the resistance to their opinions is significantly limited. You may not always have access to or have the ability switch on your Beta wave, logical mindset.

So, turn the media off. Unplug. Take a break. Get away from it for a while. Let your normal reasoning skills engage. Reboot the system. Whatever phrasing you need to use, use it to disengage. Peace of mind and calmness and clarity of thought matters. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a great service.

Another helpful technique during these times, is to remember the PAUSE.

Pausing, reflecting, reprocessing, and making sure that your body and brain and calmer before you actively engage with the information you’re trying to process, helps limit the fight or flight response.

When you pause, try to think of future solutions and plans not the immediate and present moment emotions tied to an issue. Try not to fall into the media trap of blaming and fault finding, all or none thinking and over-generalization.

Think of how you would vote on an issue what provisions would you need included to vote your conscious clearly and be at peace with your vote.

Lastly, be aware of your own bodily and mental reactions (mindfulness).

Be mindful and remember it is all just information. Some of it is actionable and some of it is not. Some is clear and factual. Some is hyperbolic and incendiary. We need to use our minds filtering mechanisms to their fullest. We need broader perspectives and deeper thought and understanding before we react.

Be aware of your surroundings, including others around you and the general thoughts, approaches, leanings, and demeanors regarding these issues that are media driven and/or political. Misalignments, disconnection, and opposition are a breeding ground for bitterness and unhappiness in your world. Where agreement, connection, harmony, and understanding are the roots of happiness.

While there is always more to say on these topics, I hope you find this post helpful during these trying times. Take care and God bless.

DrV copyright 2020

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