I've been wondering lately what it would be like to have just arrived on earth from another planet and turn on CNN for the first time. Now playing might be bloody footage from Syria, political corruption trials, loud, mud-slinging campaign ads on behalf of Romney and Obama, and news pieces about hate being on the rise. If such intergalactic travelers existed who were reasonable, intelligent beings, what would they conclude about life on earth?
The real question is what do we conclude, we earthlings, consciously or otherwise, about our lives and other people, based on the daily flood of bad news from the media.
We are presented with a lot of garbage. Like diners silently eating a bad restaurant meal, we barely acknowledge our feelings about it.
I often talk about the constant flow of toxic imagery in television drug commercials -- the nonstop talk of hideous disease possibilities. A willing audience is strapped into their seats receiving these fear-producing, vivid descriptions of various diseases. One only needs a healthy imagination to take on the symptoms as described. That's a basic reality and it's a big problem psychologically. Yet it is only one fast example of the tidal wave of bad news that washes over our nerves daily.
What can we do about this?
The instant cure, of course, is to cut out all television and radio entirely. Yeah, right. Not going to happen for most people, myself included. Although I do argue out loud with the drug companies and the actors in those commercials, wonder how they sleep at night, (yes, I know they need the money), and cut myself off from watching anything harsh, violent, or news-repetitive. But still, how to counteract the depressive effects of bad news?
It's well and good to superficially write about the positives of our culture, how cool and awesome our distractions, our new hot sexual trends, books, and social media. It's true -- many cool and awesome things are indescribably cool and awesome.
So are a flood of celebrity news stories overlaying the sobering realities of what goes on personally for most people in America.
It turns out that focusing on positives and making it "all good" doesn't wipe out the bad stuff. There is too much of it. We need to identify it and acknowledge what our response to the "bad" is in order to be whole. So it is that, although distractions are popular and invite us to leave behind the irritations and sorrows of life, Americans are depressed.
We have come apart as a society. We no longer tell each other the truth.
My solution? I would love to hear from well known people, American role models, who are committed to spilling it about the honest challenges that these times present in their own lives and thereby encouraging others to do the same. This would be a radical departure from the lack of truth and emptiness that self-promotion stands in for. I know there are people who put out connection through their own words and lives. Can you think of examples? I'd love to hear from you.
There's no denying the bad news.
Let's tell the truth about how we really feel about it all, how it impacts our lives, and maybe we will finally become the voice of the movie, Network, where we are "mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore."
Our truth can reconnect us.