Punishing Folks Who Play on Our Fears

This is in part a post about US media. Let’s get to that background first. US media used to make a distinction between “entertainment” and “news”. The entertainment was silly. The news was serious. And the news was offered in a sober way. That was a long time ago.

Now US media is all about entertainment. Sobriety is out the window. And the most extreme example of the conversion of news into entertainment is Fox. Fox is not funny, but it is entertainment. Why? Because is it about manipulating your emotions. Salon makes this point — a point made also by many others — rather well.

Here is the thing. Fox and other entertainment vehicles manipulate a certain emotion in particular – that is fear. This is dangerous because when our fears are triggered, our amygdala responses are triggered. And that, my friends, makes us stupid. We get into a fight or flight response cycle.

So — let’s move beyond US media. Do you track people who do this trick to you? If you experience this, keep in mind that this is a tactic. Nothing more. And people who recklessly use and abuse this tactic should know that they are “beyond the pale”.

It is time to assert this as a cultural norm. Sobriety, at times, works.

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