Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bad News, Bad Weather, and Media

I don't normally listen to the 'news' on the networks. Actually...I rarely switch on the news from any source. That doesn't mean I'm uninformed. I do my own research about the topics that interest me. Otherwise, I get on with life.

Frankly, I just can't stand the gushing excitement displayed by the news guys and gals as they report new examples of humanity's capacity for violence and increasing lack of compassion. The weather guys are just as bad.

Ebola! Murder! Bombing! Rain! Wind!

After a while, it takes more, MORE to get the public's attention. Have you noticed?

It used to be we were horrified if someone was murdered. But with the spread of more and more information bites, we found that unexciting. Ho-hum. So what? Really, how many murders can you report before folks tune 'em out? Crazy people who were looking for attention discovered they were going to have to up the game if they wanted national coverage. It wasn't enough to shoot/stab/poison a couple people. Nope. Multiple victims were required. Lots of bodies.

We're fickle. Pretty soon even mass murders couldn't keep our attention. The crazies had to find some new, more horrifying way to attract our attention. Slowly, but surely, they graduated to executions, beheadings, and who know what will be next. I sincerely believe the escalation in violence is directly related to HOW such things are reported--and the duration of the coverage.

The weather folks have learned this lesson, much to their cost. Every little rain storm, every high, every low was so over-reported, the public just turned it off. The inflated excitement was akin to the boy crying 'Wolf!' After a while, people yawned and found something else to watch.

If the news media reported murders in a matter-of-fact fashion that listed the bare facts and moved on, I believe the shock value would drop like a stone. No extra coverage. No forty-seven reporters standing in front of schools, factories, court houses, scenes of devastation, repeating the same three or four facts over and over and over. No cameras flashing from scene to scene as cops try to track down bombers.

Surely there are positive events to report. If not, then why turn on the news at all? It strikes me as sad when the news can only scrape up one positive story a week. Are we really that lost?

Friday, October 17, 2014


Every person on earth, whether they are willing to admit it or not, has experienced fear. Some face their fears, owning them, analyzing them, and finally banishing them. Others run, hide, deny or blame their fear on someone else.

Every time I think of fear, I remember a scene in an old movie, Remo Williams. Remo is standing on the precipice of a tall building, frozen by his fear of heights. His mentor points out that fear is just a feeling. "We feel cold, we feel hot, we feel happy, we feel fear. Fear cannot kill you."

What we do with that fear, that adrenaline CAN affect us. Fear is an atavistic signal that something is wrong, something is not quite right. Fear protects us if we remember it is a feeling and take the necessary moments to assess the source, then decide how to deal with that source. Perhaps the best step is to run! On the other hand, me just might need to squish it!

If we allow fear to paralyze us, we give it power over us. How can we make a decision or solve the problem if we let it have that power? Acknowledge it. Look at it head-on. Decide how to deal with the source. Set it aside. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicken Little Syndrome

Henny Penny, more commonly known as Chicken Little and sometimes as Chicken Licken, is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase "The sky is falling!" features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Versions of the story go back more than 25 centuries and it continues to be referenced in a variety of media.~~Wikipedia

An acorn falls from a tree, plunking Chicken Little on the head. Convinced the sky is falling--and therefore the world is coming to an end--she sets off to see the king to demand a solution. On the way, she encounters several other animals, shares her story (always declaring the sky is falling) and each animal joins her in her quest. None of the animals question her conclusion. Finally they meet a fox who pretends sympathy for their quest and offers his assistance. Instead he takes advantage of their fear to lead them back to his den where he kills and eats them.

My friends, we are in the days of Chicken Little and his friends!

Ebola! Ebola! It's coming!

Enterovirus! Enterovirus!

Plague! Plague!

War! War!

Something bad happens everyday--somewhere. Once in a while, it happens to us. None of us is isolated. All of us are vulnerable. But running around yelling, "The sky is falling!" is not helpful.

Instead, folks should determine what they can do on a personal level to minimize their chances of being affected by whatever the problem is. What preparations are appropriate? What actions should be taken? What changes in our daily lives should be made?

I can tell you right off the bat that huddling together and feeding each others fears is not going to help. There are things folks can do. Every year doctors urge folks to wash their hands. Yet, when researchers study this one behavior, they find few people actually wash their hands often enough. The simple act of washing our hands would dramatically cut the spread of all sorts of diseases. It's a simple, effective solution, but we fail to change this one behavior.

Another thing we can do is sharpen our awareness when we're in public. Avoid crowding into space with a lot of people. Most stores offer disinfectant wipes near their carts so you can wipe down the handles. And again, few people take advantage of them.

Pay attention to all the items you touch every day. Door knobs, exit bars, light switches, mail, money, keys, items in stores...The list is endless. Wash your hands!

How often do you touch some part of your body? Face, arms, mouth, feet. All are covered by germs. That's reality. Wash your hands!

Immunity and disease resistance needs a bit of help. Eat nutritious food. Chuck the junk.

Make sure you get enough sleep. Instead of staying up all night, playing on the computer, go to bed.

Drink water. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know water isn't terribly sexy, but it's good for the body and helps flush out all the nasty stuff. Drink it!

Go for a walk, even it it's just around the parking lot. This one is a two-fer. You get fresh air and exercise AND you get all the Vitamin D you need in 15 minutes. Important stuff!

Think positive thoughts. This sounds kind of silly, but the truth is, we generate most of our anxiety ourselves. We wallow in 'what ifs' instead of being grateful for what we have. We are responsible for making ourselves ill!

I'm not advocating we ignore the dangers around us, but we need to jump off Chicken Little's bandwagon. That thing is going nowhere good.