I usually don’t believe in a lot of the new social diseases that we’ve invented for ourselves over the past couple of decades.
The obesity gene? Hogwash! … Just take the pork chop out of your mouth.
Attention Deficit Disorder? Baloney! Just stop feeding your kid High Fructose Corn Syrup and give him a spanking every once in a while.
I’m not intentionally throwing barbs at anyone who suffers from these ailments, but the truth is that our fondness for justifying our problems as “disorders” rather than as results of our behavior is a phenomena that has only taken root within the past 25 years or so.
But, if ever there was a hokey-sounding social disease that I half-way paid attention to, Media-Induced Depression might be it. And, like a typical American, I admit that I hadn’t thought about it much until now, when it’s striking close to home.
My Gran’ma, who is happy with almost every other aspect of her life, appears to be another person whenever she is talking about current events.
“They say our economy is so bad, we’re heading for another depression, and none of us can afford healthcare, and we’re not gonna get out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and did you hear how they’re unable to control illegal immigration?”
She can say all of that in one sentence. She rattles off bad news topics about how “the world is coming to an end” almost with the same checklist style that media reads off highlight teasers on television. But she has NO FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE of ANY OF THESE TOPICS. She is only repeating what she heard on the news … the news she watches religiously when she wakes up, and again before she lays her head down at night. Around midday (when she’s not near a TV or newspaper,) the “happy” Gran’ma I prefer comes out. But, I’m sad when I hear the trembling in her voice as she discusses current events. How can a person be healthy when their first communication in the morning and their last communication at night is bad news?
I’m not a doctor. Nor do I have any pedigree that allows me to speak about this disease with any credibility. So, I can’t give you a formal list of “symptoms” for media-induced depression. But, after years of informal family observation (in connection with my military service over the years,) I know that watching the news too much, especially during times of crisis, can make a person depressed to the point they lose sleep and slowly erode their ability to function normally day to day.
I suspect that Muna is now suffering from this, um, disease, specifically while I’m away here in the ‘stan.
Every major news outlet starts off their broadcast with a war story. And, since Iraq is supposedly winding down, journalists are turning up the spotlight on the ‘stan. Muna, worried about me and wanting to know if I am okay, pays attention to the news, but I think she does so just a bit too much.
She called me, in the middle of the night (when she should have been sleep.) She was talking about how we lost an F-15 a couple of days ago, and how the news has video of a missing US servicemember. She didn’t mention how the news is reporting this to be the “deadliest month in the history of this conflict,” but I’m sure she got a whiff of that, too, courtesy of the talking hairdos on TV. (And, YES, I DO see the irony in my decrying media for their sensationalism while at the same time using it in my blog … I’m making a point here. Run with me on this …)
I guess I can’t blame her for being worried. She loves me and wants to know if I’m okay. But I keep trying to remind her (as I remind all of you) : Media isn’t in the business of telling you everything is okay! Mainstream media builds its fortune by scaring the &h!t out of everyone so we will keep watching. If it bleeds, it leads (the broadcast.) Good news doesn’t sell. Simple as that.
The only thing you do by tuning into misery 24/7 is receive a dose of OTHER PEOPLE’s misery 24/7. Meanwhile, you only hurt yourself.
I will do my part to help by reducing the amount of sensationalizing I put in my blog (while still mentioning the truth and facts when relevant.) Maybe if I communicate with her as much as possible, and tell her as much as I can about my job, she’ll understand more the limited extent to which I’m exposed to the threats here in the the ‘stan. (Or, more importantly, the extent to which I’m NOT. For example, I had to remind her that I’m NOT a fighter pilot, so there’s little need to worry about me being involved in the F-15 crash.)
If you know of a servicemember who is deployed, please suggest to their family members that they lay off the TV. I sure hope Muna does. And my Grandmother, too.
Stop watching the news. It’s counter-productive.