April 4, 2014

Fear Is Just a Four Letter Word. ~ Michelle Brunetti


The hardest part of being a journalist is sharing the profession with those who choose to use fear to sell a story.

What started out as a peaceful Sunday morning became likened to a fox in a hen house after I read a frenzy of stories about Friday’s La Habra earthquake and my feathers became ruffled.

Let me digress—as I often do.

Logic tells us that a massive earthquake on either of the two major fault lines in Los Angeles would be devastating. Is this really ground breaking news people?

Do I really need some stranger who probably doesn’t even live in California stating the obvious when I just spent the entire night staring at my ceiling, imagining myself playing the lead character in the blockbuster movie “The Big One.”

One article compared the potential carnage and destruction of a large-scale earthquake between both, the San Andreas Fault line and the lesser known Puente Hills thrust fault. Isn’t that rather like comparing Hitler to Stalin?

Enlighten me how throwing around bylines with Armageddon-esk words like “disastrous” is even remotely helpful to soothing the jangled nerves of San Angelinos.

Journalists should be “truth seekers” and not “fear inducers.” Of course, I equally blame the editors who contribute to sensationalizing the news and encourage their writers to play off of society’s addiction to fear and negativity.

And, don’t shoot the messenger please, but the public also plays a part in this equation.

Most people are both repelled and excited by reading horrible, bloody, gory, scary,disastrous (ok, you get it) news. You know like trying to look away from a train-wreck.

Fear has been part of man’s world since the dawn of time.

Biology wired our brains to be fear-driven as a means of self-preservation, but honestly, the chances of us being gobbled up by a saber tooth tiger like our Homo sapiens ancestors, definitely isn’t a thing anymore.

Nature taught man the need to build a fire but then man discovered that he could push his neighbor into it.

We are taught to never yell “fire” in a crowded theater but isn’t that what the media does every day?

Isn’t man guilty of finding a perverse pleasure in his fellow man’s suffering?

Some of you are hissing, “wait isn’t this more of a supply and demand thing like a dealer and a junkie. If this is true then how can we fault journalists for just giving the people what they want?”

Ok, time for the voice of reason to step in, “Well, (eye brow raised) what if people don’t know what they want because they are have been fed the same thing for so long that they don’t know better?

Journalists have a social responsibility to tell the truth but as long as they continue to feed the “truth” to the masses with the sneaky charm of Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar, then the public will continue to be attracted to negative media like a moth to a flame.

Man (and woman) have allowed themselves to be lulled into some kind of mental slavery and its master is the media.

Perhaps Jung was right on the money when he warned us about the dangers of the “collective shadow.” I wonder what all those brilliant minds would make of our world today.

No doubt there would be a lot of head shaking, tsking and smug told-you-so faces.

Ok, before my vertigo kicks in and I get a nose bleed up here on this soap box, here’s the rub folks.

Stop reading and watching negative and fear-based news and they will stop writing it!  

There is no longer a supply without a demand (Econ 101).

The point is that we are no longer Neanderthals (well, with the exceptions of a few of my old boyfriends). We don’t have to let fear drive us anymore.

There will always be suffering and pain in the world and while, we should all express compassion and empathy for our fellow humans, making negativity central in our day-to-day existence is not healthy for us.

We must learn to filter out at least ninety percent of the negativity we expose our unconscious mind too if we stand a chance of being healthy in mind, body and spirit.

This is our brief, messy, exciting life-journey. If one has been acting like a cow in a herd of followers—it’s time to cut away from the herd and seek out a new direction.

If not, you may one day look up and realize you blindly followed the rest of the herd right into the slaughter house.

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Apprentice Editor: Todd Otten / Editor: Renee Picard

Photo: Elephant Archives


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Michelle Brunetti