In 2020, Cable News is as American as apple pie. On both sides of the political fence, opinion pundits have taken over as the most trusted forms of information, at least for the older generations. If you have found yourself more agitated and angry the older you get, perhaps it’s time to consider what might be causing these feelings of resentment and discomfort. It’s very possible that simply cutting out the cable news channels in your life could see a dramatic improvement on your outlook, temperament and mental health. Here are five reasons why you should cut that cord forever.
#1 – Cable News Thrives When You Get
Regardless of what 24 hour news channel you have an affinity toward, you need to understand one thing: the channel is a private business and they’re out to make money. And guess what? Making people mad equates to big bucks.
Facebook knows this – it’s why it has never really taken a stand against fake news stories that pop up and are shared by people point-blank without even running a simple Snopes search to see if it’s true. People who are engaged with their news because it makes them angry are more likely to come back and watch more news to get the latest information.
We can’t help it – we’re addicted to drama and real life has an awful lot of drama, if you look for it. News channels know this, and by covering and focusing on these stories (whether they are true or “TRUE”), they are more likely to have you come back to watch more and more things that are bound to make you upset. It’s simple business, really – your hate and anger sell extremely well, and they need to keep generating the dollars.
After all, it’s much more difficult to run an interesting and successful 24 hour news channel that’s just good news that gives you the warm and fuzzies. But some organizations, like Positive News are doing it, and maybe you should consider getting your news from there, if you are tired of being angry all the time.
#2 – Cable News Narrows Your Worldview
Have you ever heard about something bad that happened to someone, and after finding out that it was somewhere far away, or to a people unlike you, you felt nothing? The next time you hear about something horrible happening to someone not like you, try thinking about someone you love and care about being in that situation. If you still feel nothing, then you might be a sociopath and need to seek help, but if you shudder at the thought of someone you care about going through those things, then you may be a victim of a narrow worldview.
Having a narrow worldview typically is associated with xenophobia, ignorance and racism, all things that most people agree are simply not good. But it’s true, and it comes from our reptilian brain – the internal gut reactions we feel without thinking critically. In this case, it simply sees the people who are foreign or not like us as a threat, and therefore it makes it much harder to sympathize with them. The same is also true about when someone presents a strong argument against your worldview, and you summarily reject it because it makes you uncomfortable. The Interaction Design Foundation has more information about our reptilian brain here.
Also, even on a more micro scale, because like-minded viewers tend to gravitate toward a specific 24 hour news channel such as Fox News or CNN, it further increases the tribalism in our country, as it paints anyone else with different opinions as “bad guys”. Rather than trying to come to some kind of agreement with the other side, it becomes more about always winning against them at any cost. We enjoy schadenfreude, or the pleasure at the expense of others, when someone who has different political leanings than we do takes a hit. Rather than seeing them as fellow people, we only see the fact that we “knocked them down a few pegs” and take that as a success.
If we can’t even see the humanity in people inside our own country, what kind of a worldview do we have and what kind of hope does that give us for a peaceful future?
#3 – Cable News is Owned by Private Companies with Agendas of Their Own
The news channel you watch is the only trustworthy one out there, right?
Of course you think that. You, like everyone else that watches 24 hour news channels, have fallen victim to brand loyalty by a corporation. It was no accident. They know exactly what you are likely to want in a news channel, because they have conditioned you to want those things. They speak directly to you because you are the target demographic, and they need you as a customer. What you don’t realize is that you don’t need them at all. But it’s really, really hard to understand that.
Think about the other brands in your life that you always swear by. Are you a Coke person or a Pepsi person? Do you buy foreign cars or domestic? Ford or Chevy? What kind of shoes always give you a good experience? Do you have a favorite clothing outlet? Manufacturer or Designer? iPhone or Android? Samsung or Google? Chances are you have many other types of brands to which you have loyalty, but you don’t realize it. It goes back to the point earlier about the reptilian brain: once we are established as being loyal to one brand, it makes it much easier to internalize that brand as my brand and therefore you can just forget about all those other brands.
But what happens if your brand is pitting you, quite literally, against other people? It may sound silly, but sayings such as “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” a play on General Sheridan’s similar saying about Indians, have arrived, un-ironically, in the year 2020. On the other side of the aisle, it’s not uncommon to think that the majority of Republicans are racist, illiterate homophobes who date their siblings. On both sides, the picture is not accurate, but it makes it much easier to continue on the course of brand loyalty and hatred.
When you’re engaged with the hatred of the other group, you are becoming more and more in the pocket of the corporations that own the 24 hour news channels. You are giving more power to businesses to shape the hearts and minds of the people of the country, and when the biggest goal for any corporation is to simply make more money, they’re going to do everything they can to keep you coming back for more.
Do yourself a favor and shut off the television. You don’t need that kind of manipulation in your life, especially when it walls you up and makes you unhappy.