Threat-dominated thinking

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

David Weinberger points to this good article byBritt Blaser. It’s a challenge to the caffeinated coverage of recent attacks by mainstream meda – and by implication to our willingness to be stimulated by it: “we Americans admire the terrorism problem too much as a mass entertainment to wean ourselves off that particular drug.” It’s worth reading the whole thing; here’s how he concludes:

Our brain – specifically the reticular formation (so-called “reptile brain”) is set up to face threats first and only seek opportunities when not threatened. That bias for threat info sells stuff to us. To that end, the media has grabbed and holds our attention, robbing us of the chance to pay attention to something other than the media. The coverage has no content relevant to personal safety. Our obsession with every imaginable “threat” to our person has overwhelmed our ability to maintain our personal compass in the life we really live in. We forget that we’re all going to die sometime.

But we’re wired this way, so there’s little chance we can talk our way out of this silliness, but we may be rescued by technology’s steady march from broadcasting to narrowcasting. Broadcasters (a few sources casting broadly) must compete with each other for attention and ad revenue. Narrowcasters (many sources, beaming their message only to the few who tune in) report in a more human voice, uncluttered by inflated threat messages.

I certainly noticed I made a conscious effort to limit my viewing of broadcast news last week, addictive though it is, and, yes, I did find the alternative diet of bloggers relatively therapeutic.

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