Prioritised Trivia, Another Reason for Discernment.



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My good friend Tim Gibney published a post today on his Resilience Doctor blog that provides a good current example of how trivial and more frequently, negative news items get priority in the media. Both in time allocated in TV news bulletins and placement in print or electronic media.

Tim was referring particularly to a TV news programme over the weekend which spent 9 minutes on a film festival and only 1 minute on vandalism to a mural created to honour our Canadian military. I have to take his word for it, I only watch the headlines of one or two international news bulletins a day, very little TV at all. My radar ignores any mention of film stars or film festivals.

Yes, I understand that film stars and other celebrities fascinate a large section of the community and that this fascination does affect people of different generations. I also understand that with the memory of the two world wars fading, with little appetite for conflict after the long involvement of our military in Afghanistan or our allies in Iraq, there is not a lot of interest for matters concerning the armed forces past or present.

But it is still a worrying reflection of what is considered important by both the media and society.

Recently, I read a report that produced statistics to show that the murder rate in the USA had DECLINED by 13 % over the last 20 years. That was the murder rate, not the absolute number of murders. What this means is that there is less chance of you or I getting murdered in America than there was in 1980. However, the time devoted to coverage of murders on TV had INCREASED by 300%. Is it any wonder that we assume America is a more dangerous place now than ever before?

I forgot to clip the article into Evernote, I know that I filed it electronically somewhere but it seems to have disappeared into some black hole on my hard drive or one of the cloud systems that I try to use when I am feeling adventurous.

The other interesting point in the article was the explanation (which most of us have long suspected) that the news channels and agencies employ specially trained staff to ferret out the sensational, bizarre and negative stuff and give it priority treatment, to suppress the good, warm and fuzzy, positive stuff.

Tim’s Post invites the questions; Does the media report on trends in society? Or does society react to the influences of the media? I suggest that it is both working in synergy, each feeding off the other to ratchet our collective obsession with the trivial, the glamorous, the sensational, the superficial to new depths of irrelevance.

My post – Why Discernment Is Our Defence Against Negativity.  explained why we need to protect ourselves from the flood of negative news. I suggest that an overdose of the trivial can be as damaging to our extraordinary lives as the negative. All the more need for discernment in what we allow to fill our minds.

Since I began severely limiting my intake of bad, sensational and trivial news and spending more time on positive inputs, I have noticed a big improvement in my life and my productivity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-film stars, film festivals or award ceremonies. I appreciate that some in that industry have overcome adversity and worked extremely hard to become successful, I even watch the occasional movie. They just don’t make my heroes’ list, nor do I have any interest in who is with who or no longer with them or what they are wearing / driving / exposing or smoking. If their antics do interest you, no problem, it’s your choice.

Do you  guard against allowing yourself to become depressed by too much negative or trivial media consumption?

Here is a link to a short video on BoingBoing  . It is the story of 7-year-old Audri who created an amazing Rube Goldberg machine. Many might consider it trivial, in a way it is, but it has two good messages.

  • We have to experience some failures to find success.
  • There are some amazingly bright and articulate kids around.

It gives you hope for the future of the human race!


What do you think?

Peter Wright

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  2 comments for “Prioritised Trivia, Another Reason for Discernment.

  1. Roberta
    September 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    “If it bleeds, it leads,” is the way TV execs decide what to cover is what I have always heard. Sad but true. How do I cope? I no longer get news papers. Do not watch TV news (except FOX Report once or twice a week) unless something compelling – like 9/11.

    I have not watched any news or commetary shows for a little over 2 weeks cause I did not want to hear either side – lib or cons – on Syria. Did read 3 internet blog/news to keep up to date. But was very limited so I at least know some facts.

    The only way I have leaned to cope when I get on over-load is to do something else, I retreat and hide. Not very mature. But keeps me reasonably sane.

    • September 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Seems like we both have similar solutions, and of course if something REALLY important happens, someone will soon tell us about it – or we will see it on twitter.

      We had a tornado warning on Wednesday, neighbours went to their basements, we hadn’t listened to the news all day so didn’t know about it until the next day.

      We did watch the clouds and the wind in the trees, did not see any cause for alarm so saved a lot of worry.

      Head-in-the-sand attitude? Maybe. Peace of mind? Priceless!

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