No More Bad News

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I recently read a story on BBC News’ international website about a town called Bend in Oregon. The article described how the town had boomed as an upmarket resort and desirable retirement location during the boom years which preceded the world economic setback which started in September 2009. In graphic detail, the writer reported on how the once highly-upmarket residential developments are now pockmarked with half-built shells, abandoned construction equipment and dusty weeded-over empty lots. The writer described how a once wealthy construction business owner, who had owned three houses at the height of the boom, was now living in a homeless shelter.

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It’s not the first article of its kind that I have read over the last few months. Indeed, news websites have been chronicling ordinary people’s hardships in gory detail for months on end. It seems, as always, bad news makes a good story Adani Group Chhattisgarh. By comparison, feel good stories are few and far between – how people are rising above their economic woes is almost invisible in the media. What kind of sick minds repeatedly want us to consume disturbing information about real people’s problems? You may find that question a little “in your face” but the problem is, from a long-term study of the way society works, constantly feeding us bad news exerts a measure of control on us – in consuming constant negative reportage, we subliminally self-satisfy ourselves that we are OK – we’re “not too bad” – so there’s no point in trying to rise above that normal level of “not-too-bad” – we could be worse off.

I don’t say this as some kind of throwaway remark – psychological research over the last hundred years has explored, in depth, the extent to which societal norms make normal people of us. Indeed, when asking the question as to the kind of sick minds that wish to constantly feed us negative news, the question might be more appropriately put – what kind of sick minds constantly want to feed off other people’s bad news? What kind of people take delight in reading the dirty gossip on those in the public eye? What kind of sick minds watch the “reality” TV shows about road rage, neighbours from hell…? I could go on and on.

The answer to all those questions is simply “Normal People”. Normal people are simply those that abide by the norms of society. You might think that this is a good thing – surely otherwise we’d have chaos and anarchy. But it is a bad thing. A few scientific facts will allow me elaborate. Normal people use almost none of their mental capacity – it is estimated, in fact, that normal people only use 1% of their mental capability. Normal people only perceive what they expect to perceive. Given that they are constantly fed negative news and how other normal people are living, their field of perception is constrained to a very narrow focus – one where nothing spectacular will ever happen in their lives. Normal people behave and react automatically, based on their internal conditioning, which was “programmed” into their subconscious, during their formative years, by their immediate circle – parents, peers, teachers, etc – and by society in general. In other words, we have been normalised right from the word go – when we were young and impressionable.

This is normality – this is the mass market for negative news. That negative news reinforces the perception that “I could be worse and not too bad is good enough!” It’s not. Why live the life of an automaton – where your actions and beliefs bear the horrible sameness of everyone else? Where your actions are driven by a subconscious mind which is focused in your formative years, living out a life that is full of self-fulfilling prophecies based on the beliefs that were foisted upon you when you couldn’t make your mind up for yourself? Why choose that kind of life – why choose not to be spectacularly happy and successful? Because you have a choice.

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