What if daily consumption of US media is psychologically damaging?

What if daily consumption of US media is psychologically damaging?

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Why might this be? I read a lot of news every day, part for interest, part for work. That means my day usually begins with at least two or three Iranian media sites and then moves on two one or two Arabic media, then Turkish and Russian; then Israeli news sites; then later I’ll have lunch reading BBC, France24, CNN and maybe Fox, CBS OR NBC news; and then circle back to the Middle East media.

I have an insight into what is being generated daily across a wide spectrum of news, from authoritarian regimes with their direct propaganda messages, to ostensibly liberal western democratic media.

And what I’ve learned is that American media in particular has trended toward a kind of “rage-bait” culture of daily outrage, usually about Trump, and it consumes the entirety of websites, and it is also full of extremism and good/evil portrayals of things, encouraging outrage and apoplectic feelings, constantly telling people, for instance during Covid, how “dangerous” this or that is…it encourages mobs and is contradictory and often ill-informed despite the historic tendency of media in democracies to be better informed and full of critical ideas and “speaking truth to power.”

It’s concerning. The fact that one can sometimes read most major news sites in the US and learn basically nothing, except a bit of anger and outrage, can’t be good for the minds of millions of people. It may be systematically impoverishing them intellectually.

Does that mean propaganda media by Ankara and Tehran are better? No, not better. But oddly the totalitarian regimes don’t create the same kind of mentality encouraging constant rage.

US media has become hectoring and preachy, demanding loyalty and telling people more and more what to think and almost threatening them if they don’t think that way with exclusion. The divided and angry, toxic nature of it all, can’t be good for people.

Also it appears chronically misinformed. It literally told people to do the opposite of what they should do several times during the recent crises, which most other global media didn’t do. It rarely has any reasoned discussion or presents all the facts, despite self righteous virtue signaling of things like “democracy dies in darkness” and “facts matter more than ever”….it says it is “truth” so much it sounds like Pravda. That’s not helpful and likely is a symptom of a lost generation.

Why might this be? I read a lot of news every day, part for interest, part for work. That means my day usually begins with at least two or three Iranian media sites and then moves on two one or two Arabic media, then Turkish and Russian; then Israeli news sites; then later I’ll have lunch reading BBC, France24, CNN and maybe Fox, CBS OR NBC news; and then circle back to the Middle East media.

I have an insight into what is being generated daily across a wide spectrum of news, from authoritarian regimes with their direct propaganda messages, to ostensibly liberal western democratic media.

And what I’ve learned is that American media in particular has trended toward a kind of “rage-bait” culture of daily outrage, usually about Trump, and it consumes the entirety of websites, and it is also full of extremism and good/evil portrayals of things, encouraging outrage and apoplectic feelings, constantly telling people, for instance during Covid, how “dangerous” this or that is…it encourages mobs and is contradictory and often ill-informed despite the historic tendency of media in democracies to be better informed and full of critical ideas and “speaking truth to power.”

It’s concerning. The fact that one can sometimes read most major news sites in the US and learn basically nothing, except a bit of anger and outrage, can’t be good for the minds of millions of people. It may be systematically impoverishing them intellectually.

Does that mean propaganda media by Ankara and Tehran are better? No, not better. But oddly the totalitarian regimes don’t create the same kind of mentality encouraging constant rage.

US media has become hectoring and preachy, demanding loyalty and telling people more and more what to think and almost threatening them if they don’t think that way with exclusion. The divided and angry, toxic nature of it all, can’t be good for people.

Also it appears chronically misinformed. It literally told people to do the opposite of what they should do several times during the recent crises, which most other global media didn’t do. It rarely has any reasoned discussion or presents all the facts, despite self righteous virtue signaling of things like “democracy dies in darkness” and “facts matter more than ever”….it says it is “truth” so much it sounds like Pravda. That’s not helpful and likely is a symptom of a lost generation.

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