Violence: Media Menace
By Charles F. Glassman FACP – CoachMD
Violence is the darling of the media. Each time a violent event occurs, the media outlets go on a feeding frenzy like sharks thrown bloody chum. Why is that?
We complain about it to our friends, we say it’s gross and disgusting, we turn away. But, do you find yourself glancing back over your shoulder to catch a few more details? So I repeat the question, why is that?
Most of us are run by a very basic set of instincts and behaviors that derive from the most primitive part of our nature, what I have called the Automatic Brain (AB). Because of that brain, we are on the lookout 24/7, whether we are aware of it or not, for anything that could possibly put us in danger.
We're drawn toward the violent stories for two reasons: to analyze them for similarities to our life for which we need to raise our guard for protection; or, to distill the details and find no similarities with our life, so we can feel a sense of security. You may try to kid yourself into believing that you want the details so you can connect with and feel sorry for the victims. But that’s not how our brain works and the media outlets know it.
Our AB has only one purpose, and that is to protect us from danger, threat, and vulnerability. It constantly scans the horizon looking for warning signs, and then when it finds them, prepares us to fight or flee. The media exploiters know that if they feed you stories of violence and gore, your brain will rip them open in a search for anything that might seem a danger to you. Unfortunately, that process makes you less prepared for actual threats. You eventually become numb to the pain of others and you end up looking for danger in places where no danger exists.
So here are my suggestions:
- Change the channel or turn the page when the subject is violent acts.
- If you see a disturbing headline, do not read the story.
- If you feel compelled to do something, take a piece of paper and write what you feel or record it into your cell phone.
- If someone brings up the disturbing subject, politely respond that Dr. Glassman, Coach MD, recommends you not discuss it because it is bad for your health.
- Avoid discussing details with children. An overexposure to violence can make them less prepared for their own dangers, and create anxiety and reduce their alertness.
- Create a safe and loving environment at home.
- Before you go to bed, never watch the news. Watch comedy, listen to music, or read a book–anything but the news.
When we give in to our primitive instinct to soak up every detail of violence, we actually make ourselves less prepared in case we actually, someday, need to defend ourselves.
He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Brain Drain, which helps explain and fix self-sabotage. It is the winner of the 2011 Independent Publisher's Award and 2011 Eric Hoffer Award as the best Self-Help and Health book, 2010 Pinnacle Book Award for best Self-Help Book, and 2009 LA Book Festival Best Spirituality Book.
To new subscribers on his website, he is now offering his free, new EBook, Destiny Diet. Weekly, Dr. Glassman hosts Medicine on the Cutting Edge, which gives a voice to pioneers in medical research and development. Dr. Glassman lives with his family in Rockland County, NY.
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