The mainstream mass media are constantly manipulating us into having irrational fears.
Statistically speaking, you are more likely to die from eating a biscuit than from terrorism or an epidemic. Yet, very few people have a morbid fear of biscuits.
So why do we have so irrational fears? Why do we spend so much of our time worrying about things that are unlikely to happen, while ignoring the real threats to our safety?
The mass media give us an unrealistic view of the world
When the news shows us sensational stories about violent crime, terrorist attacks and plane crashes, it makes us think that these kinds of incidents are more common than they actually are. This leads us to overestimate the likelihood of a similar event affecting our own lives.
We don’t hear so many stories about car collisions, falls in the home or choking, which are accidents we are much more likely to experience.
Unfortunately, this means we are less likely to take precautions against the things that are actually most likely to do us harm. We underestimate the risks of behaviors like texting while driving and we don’t take precautions against common accidents such as falls in the home.
The mass media encourage us to focus on immediate threats rather than planning for the future
When our attention is taken by the immediate bad news, we are less likely to take preventative action to protect us from future threats. This can have a disastrous effect on our health and the planet because we fail to consider how our current actions are storing up future problems.
If we believe we are more likely to die from a terrorist act than from obesity, we put more energy into thinking and fearing terrorism and less into healthy eating.
This type of thinking leads us to risk our health and safety by ignoring real risks. When we plan for the future, rather than obsessing about bad news, we are more likely to prevent realistic threats to our health. For example, we might reduce alcohol intake, install anti-slip bath mats and leave our phone switched off while driving.
This failure to plan for the future is also having a disastrous effect on the planet as we miss opportunities to keep our planet healthy and sustainable for the future.
In short, our focus on perceived threats leads us to put off taking action against real threats until they are too late. We live to regret our short-sightedness when the negative test results come back from the doctor or our house floods due to rising sea levels.
The mass media feed our emotional responses
When we watch the news, our emotions take over and we react based on irrational fears rather than logical decisions. We would live happier, safer and more peaceful lives if we made our decisions based on more facts and probabilities rather than allowing our emotions to guide our decisions.
It takes effort to switch from reacting to perceived threats and fears to making rational judgments based on evidence but seeing the bigger picture could be the only way to create a safer more peaceful world for ourselves and our communities and the world at large.
The mass media make us think the present is worse than the past
The horrors in the news reports make us think the world is going from bad to worse. We believe that our world is more violent and dangerous than it used to be when actually, our world is safer than it has ever been. It is a statistical fact that violent crime is on the decrease.
Despite our health fears, we are living longer than ever before because our food is more secure and modern medicine has eradicated diseases that once wiped out whole communities. We are also financially better off than nearly everyone that has ever existed.
So while it is important to understand what is going on in society, it is vital to remember that the news does not give an accurate picture of our world. Armed with this knowledge we can make rational decisions about how we can make our lives and the lives of others happier safer, healthier and more peaceful.
So, don’t believe everything the mass media say and you will stop having so many irrational fears.