I remember very little of my early childhood. From my birth until I was 12 years old is kind of a blur, but there are always moments that will stick with me forever. One of these involved Y2K.
I remember watching the news about how the world was ending and I was pretty bummed, because Pokemon Gold and Silver were set to release in October and I was upset I wouldn’t live to see the glory of 100 new Pokemon.
I remember sitting in a room, waiting for the moments up to January 1, 2000 and seeing my mother cry. My family was tense and being a little more sentimental than normal. The news told us the world was ending and we should be afraid – that everything we knew and depended on would be changed or destroyed and I would die a 7 year old.
I remember how somber the environment was as that clock ticked to midnight and how silent it was.
We were waiting for something terrible to happen, but we had no clue what. A few long minutes went by and then we started to cheer. My mother’s tears turned into tears of joy and my brothers hugged each other harder than they ever have before. And the sweetest thing of all – I’d live to see 8.
Fear mongering runs rampant in today’s media because of one simple fact: fear sells. People are more likely to click a link about something they are terrified of or more likely to tune in to the nightly news when a terrifying story is on. Today’s society is overstimulated and over entertained, so we are no longer interested in the news.
We value things that evoke emotions and stimulate us instead of educate us. We’re less worried about knowing the truth and more interested in the reality show that the media turns everyday events into.
Information doesn’t sell. The truth doesn’t cause a spike in the ratings and justice doesn’t put money into anyone’s pockets. So in today’s for-profit media syndicate, what motivates the media to inform?
People are scared of what they don’t know. Let’s use the Ebola crisis for example. The average American has a small idea what Ebola actually is. We only know what the media has told us about it, which is that it is deadly and coming for us.
We say we want to be informed and to know more about this deadly disease, but when a scientific article pops up on our newsfeed about the reality of Ebola we will skip over it for the column that is titled, “Ebola is turning people into zombies in Africa” with a picture of a “Walking Dead” zombie as the thumbnail.
People are scared of both zombies and Ebola, so they click and read a poorly written article about how somebody apparently heard from a friend of a friend that they might have seen an Ebola victim move in a body bag. Then we share it on Facebook so all of our friends can also be scared.
The government should be in place to protect us. Not only our physical state, but it has a duty as our government to protect our peace of mind, too. It allows the media to keep us terrified of our own shadows so we stay inside as they feed us lukewarm, freeze-dried propaganda through a tube.
We shouldn’t have to be scared. We deserve to be informed. There are so many things in the world we need to know and hear about, but they are drowned out by the soap opera that the local news channel has become.
The best thing you can do is to try and find alternative news sources. Some say that finding a neutral news source is like finding an honest politician, but the search for truth never hurt anyone.
Knowledge is most powerful weapon you can ever equip yourself with. You deserve to educate yourself on realities, not distract yourself with theories. Concrete facts are sometimes hard to swallow.
The truth is rough. Some would rather divert their attention to something that is abstract instead of accepting the reality of something that is concrete and proven. We owe it to ourselves to know the truth. Go and find it.
Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.