Media sources love disasters, of all kinds – weather, transportation, and especially shootings. Fear and anxiety produce the opioid drug made right between our ears, dopamine. Heard the term, “news junkie”? Biochemically similar to amphetamines and cocaine, we get high on media-generated excitement, and just like the street drugs, we continually need a new and bigger fix just to feel the same exhilaration.
Urgent voices of victims and announcers merged with images of tragedies may be replayed for days because it’s the most horrific sounds and images that pump out the most dopamine. That flood of dopamine, keeps us addicted. We stay tuned, unconsciously hoping that a novel twist or new facts will stir up the intense emotions capable of pushing out more dopamine. The media feed, whatever it is, has hooked us. This cycle of addiction assures ratings, and most importantly, keeps advertising revenue “flooding” to media companies.
What’s the alternative? TAKE BACK OUR BRAINS. Stay tuned in with just enough of the facts to be informed – preferably not first thing in the morning or within 2 hours of going to sleep. Avoid the spin and the opinions of commentators. Unless it involves our own safety, turn off news feeds, on all devices.
It probably won’t be easy. We’re addicts. We’ll notice symptoms of withdrawal – anxiety, physical discomfort, boredom. All that space in our mind will want to fill itself with worry, of course. Worry gins up dopamine! And then, come the big rewards. Breaking the media addiction means that all those hours and all that energy misappropriated by news sources becomes ours to make a constructive difference. We reacquire the bandwidth and focus to explore our own thoughts and ideas, to realize our own deepest goals, and when required, to direct authentically productive actions to those in need.