Health benefit: 30 days of social distance from the media

We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

There may be no greater danger in America today than the hype, hysteria, frenzy and fear-mongering of The Fourth Estate, aka today’s mainstream media.

In their so-called effort to “keep ’em honest” and tell us what someone shoulda/coulda said or point out mistakes or failures, today’s advocacy-driven, opinion-based media has departed from simply reporting news and information. To be sure, Edwin R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Frank Reynolds, Peter Jennings and Huntley/Brinkley would not recognize the newscasts or cable news shows of today.

To say that news media has divided the country is an understatement. The better argument is that the media has driven the destruction of civil discourse and cordial conversation in our society to a point that has left the largest chasm in our politics and social history.

It’s not only seen in the opinions and talking heads you see on television or in your favorite online media or blog, but it’s also in the steering of the narrative and presentation of so-called facts that fit that distorted narrative. Or not disclosing key facts or information that may go against the grain of the narrative destination.

Case in point: A PBS reporter challenged Surgeon General Jerome Adams about so-called offensive language towards African Americans and Latinos . This, following a set-up tweet she made to elicit that viewpoint. Huh? There was no news there until the reporter created it using her platform to direct her narrative. Read the story and you can find the substantiation in other media.

Perhaps it’s time we practice a 30-day social distancing from the media.

Many in the media repeatedly point to polls that seem to substantiate their views, especially when they suggest Americans don’t trust a particular president, Congress or other leaders. They will, however, avoid the determinative poll that suggests that Americans trust mass media less and that 72% believe that “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false or purposely misleading.”

Ironically, the media itself has developed and dispensed that mistrust by encouraging Americans to distrust its leaders. In this current crisis, it’s evident, whether areas of the media are cultivating mistrust in the president, the task force, leading doctors, governors, mayors, church leaders or others, they are seeking to undermine authority. And, that, my friends, is a primary reason that many of the younger generation today don’t trust its leaders, police and other law enforcement — much less their parents — or others who have authority over them in some capacity.

Otherwise, why would:

  • Teenagers be on Florida beaches despite a directive to refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or less?
  • People violate stay-at-home orders to carry on business-as-usual?
  • Churches continue to meet in their facilities despite those same orders not to meet in groups over 10 people?
  • Americans flaunt comments and facts from the president on down in a time of crisis?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time we practice a 30-day social distancing from the media.

Today more than ever, the civil discourse has turned to incivility! There is no mutual respect. There is no honor. There is no benefit of the doubt. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that this uncivil discourse is now rooted in our media and it is spilt over into American society. 

Indeed, there are deep partisan divides in how we view the media, but to shove the blame on one side or the other is doing an even greater disservice to the problem. Furthermore, to devolve into personally demeaning, a my-way-or-the-highway mindset that refuses to allow others to actually own their own opinion, viewpoint or thought process furthers the pigeon-holed echo chambers that the vast majority of Americans live in today.

The fact that many in our country now refuse to even have a reasoned conversation is a larger by-product of the media virus that has put us on a destructive and corrosive fast-track to devastating consequences. It’s not a matter of right and wrong, it’s more of a matter of respect and consideration.

Khruschchev was right. But if you don’t trust him, try this out from Lincoln.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln.

Regardless of your viewpoint of today’s media, you cannot argue that bias, preference or even prejudice do not exist. Across the board. The truth has become so distorted we can hardly recognize it when it does walk into the room. In fact, according to the Pew Research survey earlier this year, none of the leading 30 news sources is trusted by more than half of Americans.

Yes, perhaps we could benefit from a 30-day social distancing from the media.

Try it for a week, give it a shot for a day. Heck, take it out for a test drive for just one evening. It will be a breath of fresh air. Moreover, it could result in a significant uptick in your mental health, sanity and, above all, common sense.

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