This is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been waiting and praying for, one that lets us know the nightmare of the past year won’t last forever. And even as we go back to normal, however we define normality now, it still won’t erase the loved ones we’ve lost, the relationships strained over the incessant politicization of a global pandemic, and the damage to our economy and our individual communities, to say the least.
But by the media’s standards, the real nightmare has yet to even begin. For every success story, there’s double the coverage of harmful new variants or even talks of a newer, emerging pandemic that could impact us for decades. We haven’t even begun to recover from this virus, so why are we so preoccupied with preparing for the next one?
What’s the Goal Here?
Most of us have likely observed — with increasing alarm — that our satisfaction with the media runs tangential to our personal ideologies, and how strict we are in adhering to them. The correlation and now-ingrained ties between ideology and the media are uncomfortable to confront, but unable to be ignored.
Media sensationalism is nothing new. But this new branding of sensationalism, with ever-changing chyrons and headlines of increased cases and daily deaths (with little to passing mention of recovered patients, or even of vaccinated populations) amounts to nothing more than fear-mongering.
Now, the narrative is that vaccination is our only salvation, a salvation that was once “flatten the curve.”
Perhaps that two-week promise of “flattening the curve” was never intended to reduce the peak of the spread of COVID, but served as a mere introduction to the next 12 months of our lives. We know by now that lockdown measures were a failure, for all intents and purposes. (Notice that there’s little mention of that as well.) Concerns over the efficacy of lockdowns were branded as misinformation, conspiracy theories, etc. Now, the narrative at hand tells us widespread vaccination is our only salvation, a salvation that was once “flatten the curve.” Yet we report more deaths and more diagnoses, more positive tests, than successful vaccine rates. Admittedly, it’s difficult to keep up. But following the thread is important.
The goal doesn’t seem to be reporting all of the facts, or presenting them without an agenda for that matter. The goal is to drive views, clicks, hits, to promote readers and viewership. But we engage in that, subconsciously and passively, to our own detriment.
A Selective Media Is a Failed Media
If we want to find the real news, the headlines that aren’t as glossy or as loudly advertised, it’s imperative that we look not at what’s being reported, but what isn’t.
For all the cries over broken lockdowns, increases in cases due to kids in the street on spring break, the incessant and obsequious mask-shaming, and other common tropes of the virtue-filled, there are as many concerning factors contributing to this outrage that apparently aren’t valid enough to warrant recognition.
In just a nine-month period in the school district of Clark County, Nevada, 18 kids, the youngest of them 9 years old, committed suicide. That rate doubled the annual one from 2019. The outrage over increasing suicide and depression rates is noticeably absent from the mainstream. It’s been replaced with shaming those who question the efficacy of these measures. Meanwhile, our children and the vulnerable suffer in silence.
94% of Covid deaths had comorbidities like hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
In San Francisco in 2020, more people died of drug overdoses than of the virus. Yet there are no headlines blasting the opioid epidemic or cities where such epidemics thrive. Anxiety, depression, a feeling of hopelessness and despair all plague our communities and are very obviously targeting our children, who feel their young lives will continue this way with no end in sight. With all the uproar over new outbreaks to come, who wouldn’t feel hopeless?
If you’ve felt guilt, shame, or grief over the numbers of those dying from the virus, you aren’t alone. Yet we never seem to hear about the main conditions that contribute to death from COVID: hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, to name a few. 94% of deaths had these underlying comorbidities, reports the CDC. This isn’t the narrative dominating the conversation right now, even though it’s the factual one.
This information was barely acknowledged while resources like our gyms were closed for the apparent good of our communities. Such a blatant admission is a disgusting disregard for the benefit of those communities. Even after this, big tech and the media claim to serve our best interests.
This Isn’t about Covid
Journalist Edward R. Murrow almost predicted the stranglehold we now find ourselves in. Murrow said that “a nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves” and never before has that been more applicable.
The devil’s advocate question seems to be an overwhelming, “What do the media/government/XYZ have to gain from this?”
Our dependence on the institutions supposedly coming to the rescue grows.
Look around you. Our economy struggles to maintain its footing globally. Small businesses, the backbone of our communities, shutter one after another. Unemployment has skyrocketed and “life-saving” stimulus checks meant to somehow eradicate poverty entirely are rolled out, further increasing the debt ourselves and our children will stare down for the next decades. Our dependence on the institutions supposedly coming to the rescue grows. As we encourage and feed the politicization of the virus, our reliance on our families, loved ones, and neighbors wanes, and we turn to the media, looking for the assurance of whichever party line we agree with.
Our reliance, our dependence, our acquiescence, our passivity, our apathy, our unfaltering allegiance is what they stand to gain. This in turn means that our ability for productive discourse, critical thinking abilities, our compassion, our humanity, and our willingness to see beyond the headlines is what’s at stake.
It’s a dangerous thought to consider that the most powerful and influential forces of the public are likely not working for us. But it’s equally as damaging to claim or think that all of these grasps for authority somehow work for us and not against us.
There’s more at stake here than we think. As individuals, we face threats to our mental health. As communities, the livelihood of our rights and liberties are somehow called into question as if this country had been founded on superficial building blocks that can be moved, limited, shifted, or taken away at the will of the powerful. But our country was founded on the principle that tyranny and gross abuses of power are unacceptable conditions to live under. It’s as true now as it was then.
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