Riding a Lion in a Minefield
STORY INLINE POST
How many hours of news have you consumed in the past week? Month? What’s your feel after reading the latest headlines regarding the economy, climate change, politics? Is your vision of the world shaped by this news? Have you made serious decisions based on the information you get from the news?
I am going to give you the most valuable advice someone can give you this year: Don’t.
There’s an old saying in the media industry: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Translated to media business: shock them, get their attention, then monetize this attention. We are not denying that the current state of the world is upside down and we’ll face very strange and difficult months ahead, but let’s switch off the outside world at least for what it takes to read this piece.
The internet lives and runs on content. Getting something for free on the internet is nothing new for many internet users; you are the product and this has generated an overabundance of sources for getting information about the current state of the world. There's a huge war to grab your attention and media outlets will resort to anything they can to get your attention because every second you spend on their platforms is money. They will shape their messages to appeal to your most basic needs and instincts, even if this steps into gray areas of ethical behavior; they will shock you, scare you and sometimes (the least) inspire you, but inspire you to a behavior favorable to them or their sponsors.
We as humans are susceptible to paying attention to shocking news. We have built in our primary brain a system to place a lot of attention on events that could represent a danger in the near future. This is how our brain can anticipate danger and activate the fight or flight response, which is well known by media outlets because our brain can’t distinguish between a real danger close to us or something really, really far away that doesn’t actually represent a threat but thanks to the internet, we know about it. In the past, we would not have been able to even know about.
Knowing this and getting back to the advice I gave you in the beginning, being an entrepreneur or running a business is already complicated enough, without adding in the anxiety and anguish generated by constant consumption of news. Running a business is like riding a lion: it’s dangerous and will require our undivided attention and mental bandwidth. Media outlets want us to believe we are riding this lion in the middle of a minefield with nuclear warheads flying over our heads. They don’t care that for us as humans with desires, dreams and families to take care of, the news can seed many thoughts and decisions, personal and business-wise that can steer the path of our lives. For example, if all day, from all media, you follow exaggerated news about an upcoming economic crisis, you might start thinking about reducing your staff, closing an office or maybe raising the prices of your products. These actions will certainly have an impact. This is just one example of the real power of media outlets.
But knowing all that I have told you, switch a little bit of their power to yourself. Don’t believe them blindly; compare them, and when you read something in your preferred news source and it makes you think or generates any type of feeling, pause, think about the feeling you are having and how having this feeling could commercially benefit the outlet or any of their sponsors. Then, go and look for the same information but from another totally different media outlet, even if this outlet is one you don’t prefer as a primary source of information. The more you read the same information on different media outlets, the more you will start to see how each outlet communicates the same piece of information but shaped differently and in line with their commercial strategy. By using this strategy, you will start to extract the real information and instead of getting shocked and making rushed personal and business decisions, you will be empowered to ride this lion in the minefield, but this time you will be the one in charge and calling the shots.