The Media Are The Real Terrorists


Terrorism deals in a culture of fear.

Terrorists win when we change our habits out of fear.

Taking off our shoes at the airport, worrying about our jobs, driving our kids to school are all examples of how terrorism has won.

You don’t think those last two are results of terrorism? Think again. Never mind Al-Qaeda, Hamas, or ETA – the biggest terrorist in your life is the 6 O’clock news

FILM AT ELEVEN

In a culture where everything is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, news stories are distilled to those which strike an emotion – and fear is the easiest to hit.

Think about the recent newscasts you’ve seen. Are there long stories detailing the how and why of the financial crisis, or are you seeing video of murders, rapes and fluffy kittens playing with bears?

Think about the promos you see before the newscast comes on. “Can the air you breathe kill you? Find out tonight on Action News On Your Side!” or maybe it’s “Are your children’s pyjamas a deathtrap? The Investigation Probe Exclusive Tonight!”

It’s always a question, it’s never really answered and it’s asked to put you in an emotional relationship with the news story.

Why do they do it? To get you to tune in.

If the tease was “Tonight, we’ll explain exactly why the stock market fell 5%” do you think more people would tune in versus “How canopeners are the sinister death trap lurking in your home.”

The media are the real terrorists here. You and I living our traditional city lives with our kids and our jobs are not in danger of any crazed jihadist wanting to burn our homes down – but if you turn on the news, our kids are being snatched, our mothers are being murdered, and there is drug use and gunplay on each.and.every.street corner of the city.

IRRATIONAL FEAR OVER RATIONAL THINKING

Here’s an entry about the chicken little crying over the economy in recent months:

What strange, conflicting times we live in. Every time I turn on the radio, read a newspaper or check the internet, there is discussion on the recession. They talk about people getting laid off from companies in the thousands….. The future looks bleak.

I however, I still get up every morning. I have my coffee, eat my toast and drive into work. Sales are down but I’m busy. Very busy. Gas prices have dropped. Retail sales are everywhere. Buying a house is almost affordable again (if it ever really was in my life time so far). Theoretically, we should be on top of the world. All this while I hear about the thousands of people losing their jobs. Conflicting emotions to say the least.

But I am now thinking more than ever before, that it could be me. It could be me to lose his job. To lose his home, his car, his worldly possessions. Aren’t I living paycheck to paycheck? Do I really have any real savings? How many degrees of separation lie between where I am now and me living in a cardboard box. How frightening it would be to lose my job right now. And the ironic thing is that I’ve never felt that way before.
[Two Weeks Til Friday]

Where did his fear come from? Without “the news” he’d be strolling along merrily doing what he’s always done, but here comes the big bad 6 o’clock news telling us all about how we’re going to lose our jobs, our houses will be foreclosed and we’ll be lining up for food stamps.

Sure, that is happening to some, but the media flip the story on it’s side to spread terror and fear and lure in viewers by making it seem like we’re all going to hell and Mr Goodlooking Anchor with Miss Investigative Reporter is the only team who can save us.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

365#5 theme~schoolThen let’s spin it over to parenting. Drive by any school yard and you’ll see the lineups every morning at 8 and 3 as hundreds of parents drive their SUV the 10 blocks it takes to get their kids to school on time. There’s no more ruffling of the hair as the kids scamper down the block with backpack and lunch bag in hand, laughing and teasing with friends along the way.

No.

Now we must lock them in armoured vehicles and drive them to school under the watchful eye of security agents (us) because there are bad people out there wanting to steal our children.

“Some people cite safety concerns, but the chance that a child will be injured in a car accident are astronomically higher than that he will encounter evil doers out to sell him into child slavery on a chocolate plantation or something.” He’s probably right, at least statistically. But parental fear is a very real thing, whether reasonable or not. There are plenty of things I did as a young’un that I have trouble letting my kid do, like go to corner store.
[Strollerderby]

The news media will make us believe there are dangers on every street and our children are at risk. The reality is they’re more likely to drown in the bathtub than be snatched on the way to school.

Why are we so afraid? Why are we letting this war on terror be waged against us?

We’re smarter than this. We know better. We need to turn off the news and get our lives back.

Terrorists only win when we’re afraid. Right now we’re scared as hell.

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14 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    April 10, 2009

    Excellent post Buzz. I don’t follow the news. I feel like an idiot some days because I’m not ‘informed’ but the news is too damned depressing. Why people want to listen, watch, read it every day is beyond me. I don’t shelter my kids. They walk to school, they go to the park, they play outside..ALONE…they are kids for cripes sake! I once made the mistake of trying to scare them about strangers, etc when they were very young…and all it did was make them scared to be away from me, which did not help them to be independent, street smart, confident children. We all want to protect our kids, but over protecting them is worse.

    So, I guess, for me anyway, I’ve traded being ill informed about the world around me for being at ‘peace’. I figure the really important things I need to know, I’ll find out.

  2. The terrorists you read, hear, and view…

    Buzz Bishop has a good point: if you measure the effectiveness of terrorism by the fear it generates and the behaviours it changes, then the biggest terrorists are the news media….

  3. April 10, 2009

    I recommend dropping by Derek’s blog to read the many posts he has carved on the same topic: http://www.penmachine.com/2007/05/feeling-safe-vs-being-safe

  4. Diane
    April 12, 2009

    Great Post and Unfortunately sad but true. Just another example of how those in control manipulate society and are rapidly creating greater flocks of sheep.

  5. April 29, 2009

    Toss another example on the pile.. swine flu. From the Washington Post:

    But some analysts say the media are collectively going overboard. “Of course we’re doing too much to scare people,” said Mark Feldstein, a former correspondent for NBC, ABC and CNN who teaches journalism at George Washington University. “Cable news has 24 hours to fill, and there isn’t 24 hours of exciting news going on. If you scare people, they’ll tune in more.” At the same time, he noted, “we don’t yet know the parameters of how big this is going to be.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/27/AR2009042703762.html

  6. claudgrrl
    April 29, 2009

    Completely in agreement. Stopped watching the news long ago. I deal with people daily who obsess about the recession or the latest sicknesses, and I am constantly amazed by how taken they are by these news stories. Yes, these issues are a reality, but it is not the end of the world, these challenges have been going on for years and years, and people have survived. The media portrays the drama and instills the fear, and for some reason people believe it. Why do people not question this, seek another (objective) opinion, or educate themselves? We have so many resources to get informed, yet we go through the drive-thru route of watching the news.

    I guess objective news is just boring and does not create viewership.

  7. Shea
    May 1, 2009

    While this may make some sense, I have to disagree about a number of points.

    Firstly, network news is hardly the only source of news available. There is a lot of rational and thoughtful analysis from good media such as the Economist, the New York Times, The New Yorker, International Affairs, good blogs, and a host of other in depth magazines and quarterlies that I won’t list here.

    Furthermore, I am not sure if you are implying this or not, but not being informed about the issues facing society by not reading news makes for bad citizens and an unthoughtful demos, which I find far more politically disturbing than some crappy network news story.

    The quotation about the individual who feels he should be flying high because he has a job is a pretty misinformed opinion. The option isn’t either to run around like a chicken with no head or to sit blissfully ignorant or uncaring of social issues. The better approach is to stay informed, think in depth about the issues, consider the problems that other members in society are facing, and hopefully either act to improve that situation or at least be informed enough about it to be politically efficacious when the time comes.

    Isn’t the burden on individuals to think broadly and behave rationally and demand better news? These news angencies wouldn’t tell stories like this if there wasn’t a market for them. I think it is absoultely crucial to militate against a demogogic press – “A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will in time produce a people as base as itself.” – Joseph Pulitzer – and I have no respect for those news agencies that behave in that way. However, the burden is both on us and on journalists.

    And, who under 50 watches the ‘6 oclock’ news anymore?

  8. May 2, 2009

    You need to get outside your internet bubble and realize that a LARGE segment of population still goes to traditional media. Sure, it’s shrinking, but they’re there and they’re very relevant.

    As for the “rational analysis,” again you’re speaking of elite products not consumed by the general public. Fox News is the top cable channel, enough said.

    You are speaking in ideals, not reality. It would be nice for people to gather information from numerous sources, evaluate facts and form their own opinion. My argument is this doesn’t happen. Especially in America where it seems ALL news outlets cling to one headline and bang the hell out of it.

    “If you scare them, they will watch.”

  9. […] a previous post I allude to the fact that Media Are the Real Terrorists, and it still rings true. Instead of offering insight and information and a factual layout of […]

  10. February 6, 2010

    I liked your article very useful to me. I will come back and read the article again.
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  11. […] stories about child predators and the dangers of the online world. It’s easy to live in fear when the media constantly terrorizes us. Yes, the rules state that 13 is the minimum age for Facebook, but when you’re faced with highly […]

  12. Stacie
    March 13, 2011

    I agree with you 100% and thanks so much for your post! I hate that News is everywhere and it is unhealthy. They report on things that we don’t need to know about like over night shootings and create undo anxiety. What I hate is that you cannot even go to a restaurant with your family without the news being in your face! How un-appetizing is that!

  13. September 11, 2011

    I still try to stay informed but I try to keep from getting sucked into the fear mongering stories. It is very had though because they seem to be the focus these days. Since having my little boy who’s 4, it’s even harder. I think as parents we tend to fear more anyway. Add the news to that & next thing you know you have a bubble wrapped kid!

    Some fear is good but it needs to be directed at real threats. I found “The Gift of Fear” a great book. It looks at the top fears parents have like abduction, etc & gives real statistics around how likely they are to happen (not very). It then tells you what is more likely to happen and gives you real, age appropriate things to tell your children to keep them safer (like telling them to look for a woman to help them if they get lost NOT a man in a uniform). I found that once I had more real information I could filter out more of the fearmongering.

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