Saturday, April 25, 2009

Escaping Mass Media...Controlling Destiny


I was captured by a quote I saw in a news article today that stated "If you always listen to the news, it's easy to get disheartened...What you need to do sometimes is disconnect and focus on what you can control."

This is basically how I look at my past two weeks traveling in Uruguay and Argentina. Outside of all the new sights and cultures to observe, probably the greatest benefit was "unplugging" from my normal amount of time online and observing the "news". I found myself using my limited online time for pure business communications and researching LOCAL information based on where I was staying. What newspapers I read were mostly about local politics or happenings which helped me identify with my new surroundings and very little to do about international events. It WAS interesting to read foreign coverage of our President Obama and latest international efforts of the USA especially as it pertained to new relationship efforts with Cuba and Venezuela, but overall I felt very disconnected from the "world arena" while traveling and was gratefully focused on business and my new surroundings. I found this very refreshing and quite honestly as I return to my usual online habits of news reading and occasional review of daily "news" on CNN and FOX television, I find I haven't missed much of real importance to my personal life.

As I think about this, I have to wonder if it is good, bad, relevant or irrelevant that I keep up with the world news at large. Is my life enhanced or improved by trying to know all that I can about international problems and issues that I am not involved in or affected by? Would I be more successful and fruitful in life by saving a lot of that time to focus more on where I live now and what I am doing? Perhaps so...but I also believe it is important to understand and connect as many of "the dots" in our world as one can. The advantage of education and first world standards of living is that we can spend more time and energy pursuing "intellectual" issues and knowledge of our world. Yet others would argue that by focusing on our more immediate surroundings and tasks at hand, we would be more "productive" and effective with our time.

I think the key is balance...and choice. There seems to be a human tendency to focus on the negative and miss the positive. It’s like when we meet people, we tend to notice and focus on the imperfections and "difference" between us more than what we have in common. And in the news, we focus more on alarmists and pessimistic commentary than we do good news or success stories. Often in life, when people hear or read about someone's successes...they want to look for the "chink in the armor"...the imperfection...to somehow bring them down to "our human level" of failure and defeat. And choosing which media or commentator we are going to listen to is probably the most important decision as it impacts our views and reactions in life. I often am perplexed how certain "commentators" or interviewers in the media get chosen over others to represent a network or even the masses. How do these people get on the air? Many of them seem so blasé to me, or so "snarly" and tainted to one viewpoint or another that they could never be looked at as "balanced and rational" when it comes to reporting the news. Walter Conkrite, where are you?

News also seems to be segregated by national demographics way more than it needs to in a modern age. While I understand the social dynamics of localization and "identification" with a nation, race or religion...I still find it appalling that so many news mediums we see on cable and satellite is tainted by local perspective, with no challenge to see things from a bigger "arena" standpoint.

Case in point is my observation that many of my USA friends are so wrapped up and "wrung out" by the USA economic meltdown, they are totally focused on the financial news networks...especially USA targeted ones. In my opinion this limits them from seeing the bigger picture of what REALLY drives the ups and downs of their market, currency and future livelihood. Globalization is here to stay...and the more we Americans start learning about comparative markets, economic models, and how to interact positively in the global trade arena...the sooner we will start making the educated investments and changes we need in order to stay competitive in this new global dynamic. And life is much more than just financial news. Sure, you can't take away the importance of money being the fuel for freedom and independence in life...but many of us seem to have made pursuit of money and financial security our ONLY goal in life. My point being, if you have all the money and success you seek yet have no friends, family or other meaningful activities in your life...what is that money really worth?

AH...lots of rambling thoughts here...but to wrap up for now I would say that it was refreshing to have a couple weeks out of my "routine", and I think I am going to try and stay on a new balanced agenda in my daily life. I am going to focus more on my immediate goals and objectives while worrying less about the day to day gyrations of markets and political mayhem. I do wish President Obama well in his attempts to stabilize the USA's economic and political crisis in the world, yet I have my own objectives to follow up on in that agenda. I'm sure I need to keep one eye on the Islam fundamentalists in Afghanistan and other strongholds around the world, yet I am going to stay friendly and open to the few Muslims in my space to validate whether they are to be feared or befriended. I feel they can tell me more about those issues than Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

Here is to balance in life, balance in the news, and balance in perspectives...and controlling as much as we can of our own destinies without over influence of the media.

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