At this point in our public conversation, we’ve read plenty of commentaries about the negative impact of media. This article will spare you the usual drill about the dangers of media.
Instead, this is a guide you can use to help you think about how the media operates. That way, you can prevent today’s media from negatively impacting your pursuit of happiness. You know enough about media to understand its power of influence on everyone.
Studies continually demonstrate how the consumption of TV, newsprint, radio, and even social media increases your risk of depression and anxiety. Yet, with all of its adverse effects, it is unrealistic to expect us to completely purge the consumption of media from our lives. A better way to deal with the negative influences of the media is to immunize our minds from it. Here are the ways to do that.
Understand that values have to be real
Most of us already know what we see in the media isn’t real. We are aware of this whenever we present an altered image of ourselves on social media. It happens with something as simple as applying filters and editing photos to make them look better.
Nothing is wrong, nor bad, nor immoral about doing this. It’s merely a projection of each person’s idealized image of themselves. The problem, however, occurs when a person mindlessly accepts this manufactured image to be real. It is problematic because values have to be real and based on what is true in reality, not faked fantasies.
It is problematic because values have to be real and based on what is true in reality, not faked fantasies.
When our judgment of the world is determined by what the media portrays, we run the danger of living under a false perception of reality. To help understand this concept, observe how political propaganda operates in a tyrannical nation like North Korea.
When our judgment of the world is determined by what the media portrays, we run the danger of living under a false perception of reality.
North Koreans are brainwashed by their media into believing lies. While not as extreme as North Korea, we are exposed to comparable tactics in our own media climate.
Understand how the media actively lies to you
The media and show business does not have your best interest at heart. When our perception of reality is altered to fit a false narrative, we will be unable to properly identify truth in reality. When this happens, we will mistakenly seek values that are not based in reality itself.
When our perception of reality is altered to fit a false narrative, we will be unable to properly identify truth in reality.
Consider the case of how the media portrays crime. The majority of movies and television would have you believe that most criminals are “powerful, wealthy, evil businessmen.” But the truth is, white-collar crimes are statistically negligible compared to violent crimes. Contrary to what we consistently see in the media, it is very unlikely that a successful businessman is a criminal mastermind. And yet, we are still constantly fed this lie.
Media lies are part of why the public has such a low opinion of businessmen. Since the public does not trust businesses and private enterprise, they want more regulations on businesses and to overthrow capitalism.
Understand that the media is a bad reference of reality
You have to live in reality. And in order to successfully achieve happiness in your life, your goals have to conform to reality. If you seek values based on the non-reality shown by the media, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you will not be able to achieve real values.
Look at how this unfolds when the media lies about the immorality and criminality of the businessmen. The public is brainwashed to pursue the counterfeit value of socialism. The people of Venezuela bought this lie and look at what happened to them. This is why we cannot derive our life values from the media. They survive, because they have the money. But what about us?
The connection between your self-esteem and the real world.
In a better world (with a less biased, dishonest media), the media would present a more positive and life-affirming view of reality. In a better world, the media would nurture us with impressions of beauty, knowledge, and virtue. But today, the media instead presents a distorted illusion of ugliness, stupidity, and depravity. Worst, however, is when the media simply promotes the outright rejection of reality.
People whose goals are influenced by today’s media will pursue irrational values that are detached from reality.
People whose goals are influenced by today’s media will pursue irrational values that are detached from reality. They will end up defeated in life and fail to achieve happiness.
The goals you choose to pursue have to be attainable
When you set a goal that is not achievable, you will judge yourself for not achieving it. You will ruin your self-esteem since these failures are an indication of your inadequacy. You will start believing that you are personally incapable of success.
If you can’t attain your values, it will be difficult for you to be happy because you’ll start noticing how your pursuit of happiness is consistently doomed to failure. This is why you should not shape your life based on the unrealistic illusion from the media. If you did, you would never be happy since that false ideal is not achievable to start with.
Imagine watching a show or a movie about a stunningly beautiful, high-powered corporate career woman with multiple love interests pining for her. But she is uninterested in returning their affections because she wants to focus on her children as a single mom.
This fantasy is wonderful and can be utilized as a form of artistic inspiration for our own lives. The trouble is when a person decides to imitate this lifestyle completely because it is simply unrealistic. A high powered corporate career is extremely stressful. A lot of women who chose that route do so at the cost of motherhood – for which they were willing to pay the price.
The trouble is when a person decides to imitate this lifestyle completely because it is simply unrealistic.
Attaining the perfect physical body is also stressful because it takes time, effort, and discipline to have the ideal human figure. Follow the life of a fitness model, and you’ll see how it is almost a full-time job.
Nurturing children into adulthood is a challenge onto itself, and women who take motherhood seriously knows it’s a full-time job – and not an easy one. And a fulfilling romantic relationship is perhaps the biggest challenge of all because it requires both partners to actively work to make it a success. Expecting to “have it all” at the same time — career, looks, motherhood, romance — is the hubris of thinking that you can cheat reality. It might be possible to have it all, just not all at the same time. Yet this is another delusion the media constantly sells to women.
Expecting to “have it all” at the same time — career, looks, motherhood, romance — is the hubris of thinking that you can cheat reality.
How to vaccinate your mind from the media
Show business tends to measure success by how “addictive” their products are to audiences. The more users behave like mindless junkies seeking their next high when consuming media, the more successful the product is deemed. It wouldn't be an overstatement if you concluded that the media actively promotes a serious lack of thinking in its consumers.
To be happy, thinking critically is necessary. And rational thought dictates that you cannot build your life on a web of lies. What you see on the media – be it social media, television, movies, music, magazines – is not a good standard to shape your life on.
Rational thought dictates that you cannot build your life on a web of lies.
Thinking is critical, especially when today’s show business thrives by keeping the public thoughtless. Fortunately for you, you have a defense against this – your intellect. Think critically for yourself, and don’t let the media destroy your intellect.
When America was founded, “the pursuit of happiness” was included in its Declaration of Independence. This is not an accident. The pursuit of happiness is directly related to the concept of independence.
Letting the media shape your mind is a surefire way to increase its negative impact on your life.
Letting the media shape your mind is a surefire way to increase its negative impact on your life. Show business tends to appeal to the lowest common denominator in order to amass the most significant number of audiences. You don’t have to be part of this bottom.
You can break free and live a better, healthier, and happier life through the virtue of your independent thought. This is how to attain your freedom from the destructive influences of today’s media. Think for yourself by embracing real values. Set rational, realistic goals so you can achieve it. And stop believing lies from the media.