Media Fasting Might Be a Good Idea Right Now

John Whitaker Employee Relations, Leadership

It’s getting harder and harder to get any kind of useful information from the “professionals” responsible for informing the public about things that matter. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say you have a 0% chance of getting a true re-counting of any current event that doesn’t also carry a hidden agenda or political bias. ZERO.  

Stop right now if you are about to answer “no, that’s not true because xxxxxx gives unbiased news” – no they don’t, stop lying to yourself. The best quote I ever heard regarding this comes from the great Denzel Washington who said “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” While our younger readers may not realize this, a “newspaper” was formerly a daily installment of news reporting delivered directly to your house. Conveniently separated into categories, you could quickly reference information about sports, business, fashion, world, and local news. There was even one section saved expressly for “Opinion Editorials” (Op-Ed) to allow some of the more tenured columnists a chance to unabashedly give a biased vantage point on the topics of the day. They could be pointed, exaggerated, soft on facts, but you knew as you read that this was clearly a subjective opinion. 

Now? Now we have Buzzfeed. Or The Drudge Report. The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, The Daily Show (speaking of the Daily Show – Jon Stewart please come back, the world was better with you in that chair.) All of our news is “Headline News,” or “Breaking News,” or someone is “destroying” someone else – whatever gets the click. All news is Op-Ed written with the objectivity of a pageant Mom. Look no further than the current COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when we have a legitimate global health crisis, our friends in the media have put the American public at odds with one another. Every bit of it – lockdowns, masks, testing, “positives,” false positives, false negatives, quarantines, school closures – so much mis-information has been constantly fed to us through the filter of a corrupt, agenda-driven media machine, I’m at the point of saturation. You blew it, media. You have no credibility. You are entertainment until proven otherwise. 

And we – you, me, all of us, have allowed it to happen. Some have actually decided to become part of the partisan circus; writing (yes, the irony is just now hitting me), videoing, and cancelling our fellow citizens. The echo chambers we eagerly seek for validation have created an industry that feeds on our hate. If you hate Trump, you’ve got Rachel Maddow, Jim Acosta, Brian Stelter, Joy Behar and a host of others to stoke your rage. If you hate the Left, there’s Tucker Carlson, Dan Bongino, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and a cottage industry of “digital warriors” convinced the end of the world as we know it is nigh. If you hate competence and intelligence, there’s always Don Lemon or Chris Cuomo to scratch your itch (yes, it’s piling on, but these two are clowns). 

And it’s killing us, folks.  

I’ve got friends who can’t have a conversation with me. Hell, my father can’t have a conversation with me. Why? Because we’ve all got chyrons and sound bytes embedded in our dialogue compliments of MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and The Daily Wire. Seriously, you can hear people using the same talking points as if they’ve memorized a script, and they are eager to regurgitate the company line. Meanwhile, no one is actually listening to the other side.  

So, here’s what I’m proposing. We start a media-fasting movement. This is not the “I’ll watch MSNBC for a week, you watch Fox for a week” arrangement where you digest the other person’s news for a week,  we’re waaaaay too far gone for that. My liberal friends wouldn’t last 5 minutes watching Tucker before a foot would be implanted in the screen, and I would have to be tied and bound to watch MSNBC for any length of time. 

No, this is a media-free diet for an entire week (as I type that, I get the shakes – that’s what happens with addictions, right?) Who will join me? July 27th through August 2nd – we’ll give it all up. Anything politically related – Social Media, cable shows (you know the ones), YouTube, Podcasts, books, periodicals, and anything else I’m forgetting.  

We’ve allowed a monster to shape our attitudes, behaviors, opinions, and most painfully – our ability to relate to one another. It’s hard to understand each other when we won’t even listen to one another.  Put the fork down.