“This day I shall desert my anxieties. I shall forsake them – cut them off from the food supply of my spirit. Confident am I that if I do not feed them they cannot long survive. I shall seek to limit my primary exposure to those who exploit my anxieties by their tendency to exaggeration and alarm. I shall seek to broaden my exposure to those whose lives give forth confidence and calmness.” – Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart (p. 124)
I read this passage last night and it deeply resonated with the way I’ve been feeling lately about life in the Internet Age. These machines are designed to agitate us and keep us clicking and clicking and clicking some more. This is why I’m as lackluster a blogger as I am. I do recognize the power of this medium of communication, and I know that it can be a force for good. But I just don’t want to be hooked into the network all day and feeling constantly manipulated by “crisis” after “crisis” in the news, on blogs and on social networking sites. Some of this news is genuinely important. There’s a lot of major changes going down in the world right now. But there’s just so much petty drama to wade through. This even goes for my social networking friends, many of whom I know in person, and I know that they are good conscientious people. But some of them can also be consumed by the exaggerations of media and spread that agitation all around.
Good things do come out of social networking, like seeing this article about FoxNews and its fearmongering tactics, and feeling that it synced up nicely with what I read from Howard Thurman. FoxNews is undeniably the worst offender when it comes to their copious use of fear and ignorance. I refuse to subscribe to the false equivalence that “the liberal media” does it too in equal measure. But I will say that many of the tactics that this article describes are pervasive throughout the entire infotainment industry, regardless of whatever political “brand” they attach to themselves.
I’m just young enough to feel at ease in the world of TV and computers and smartphones, but I’m also just old enough to be suspicious about the intrusion of media into every aspect of my life. Feeling that I’ve somehow slipped the bonds of The Network, even for short amounts of time, is probably just a delusion at this point, but it is a delusion that I am happy to entertain whenever I can, and for as long as we are still able to do so.