Avoid The News

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I haven’t really “followed” the news for a long time. I skim. I’m aware. But I spend very little time and energy engaging with it.  I believe my life, and my parenting, is immeasurably better for it.

I tuned out long before Coronavirus, even well before American politics went to hell in a handbasket.

It started when I watched a video that changed my life perhaps more than any other: https://youtu.be/HGzgyVAlsDE

It’s some B-level TED talk. It starts slow and awkwardly. The guy is not a great speaker (no offense dude – I’m a bad cook and suck at math). But stick with it, and you will come across a deep, profound, potentially life-changing epiphany. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what it is, but I doubt my explanation will have the same emotional and intellectual resonance. Put in the work. Watch the video.

But if you don’t want to, here it is: The world you see on the news is not the real world.

I know. That sounds obvious, or underwhelming, or trite. But if you really unpack it, really understand it, it has heavy implications.

The gist of it is that the media disproportionately focuses on stories that feature Violence, Danger, Conflict, and Sex – and we get tricked into believing the world is a lot worse than it is.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take the first 10 headlines from my local new site:

  1. Coronavirus restrictions in New York: A list of the new rules you need to know
  2. Westchester child care sites set for essential workers: List
  3. Orthodox Jewish leaders: Coronavirus safety measures take priority
  4. NY businesses need to keep 75% of staff home; Relief coming on mortgages
  5. Local governments brace for revenue to plummet. How it will impact New York taxpayers
  6. Ex-corrections officer accuses Yonkers police of unlawful arrest in 2018
  7. Federal lawmakers want IRS to move tax deadline
  8. This Westchester neurosurgeon has coronavirus. What he wants you to know
  9. Video that warns of rampant spread of coronavirus in Jewish community debunked by officials
  10. Coronavirus crisis: Support your local businesses

I know what you’re thinking. That’s because there is a global health crisis. But let’s look at the Top 10 headlines from a year ago:

  1. Indian Point 2 returns to service after over a week offline
  2. Girls basketball: Irvington wins Federations
  3. How a $1 million deal went down on Lake Mahopac
  4. Yonkers man wanted for kicking elderly woman on subway in custody: NYPD
  5. White Plains: 5 floors evacuated after fire inside duct of condo
  6. GBB: Ossining falls to CTK in Federation final
  7. Boys lacrosse: Yorktown holds off Mamaroneck
  8. Suffern superintendent says school board stifled him
  9. Third female Harrison cop claims harassment
  10. Harckham wants inquiry into Lake Mahopac deal

Some sports thrown in there, but plenty of negativity.

If you just saw those last headlines, what kind of place would you think I live in? A place suffering from police and municipal corruption? A dangerous place where elderly people are attacked, fires destroy lives, and the threat of a Nuclear power plant looms? These things *did* happen. But I live in Westchester County NY. One of the most safe, affluent, and nonthreatening places in the United States.

If you didn’t know that, if you just read the headlines from our local news site every day, you’d think otherwise. And you might share and spread that perception to other people. You might lose trust in local government and schools. You might be afraid to let your children out of your sight.

And this IS what people think and do. Because every day, we’re subjected to 24 hour news telling us what a violent, threatening, dangerous, and sexy world it is.

Except that it isn’t really. By and large, life is boring. People are overwhelmingly good. Very very very very few people are killed or robbed. Almost no children are snatched, particularly by strangers. You may think I’m wrong – but in this case, I assure you I’m correct.

Do the math. Look at how many people there are in your country, your state, your town. Look at the actual statistics on crime or death. It’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. The chances that some ill will befall your family and friends, is astronomically small. You may think you’ve heard of bad things happening to lots of people. You have. But what you’re hearing isn’t an accurate representation of how common or likely those things are. You are seeing the world through distorted lens, that amplifies the worst things. You’re hearing most of the bad that’s happening to a few people.

You’ve been subjected to it for so long, it’s invisible to you. You’re literally living in the Matrix. You’ve never seen the real world, not since you were a kid. You likely believe the world is a scary place, and live with constant anxiety. You put that anxiety on your kids and permanently change them.

I realize I’m breaking a lot of my advice and being very pointed and preachy in my language. I’m intentionally making a rare exception in this case. If I’m gentle about it, you won’t see it. You probably won’t anyway. It’s hard to see.

But I believe I see the world for what it is. And it’s a much happier, safer, more loving world than most people live in. And I’m so so much happier and calmer since I tuned out and woke up. I want that for you, and for your friends and family. I hope you can see it. Turn off the news. Take the red pill. Disconnect from the Matrix.

 

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