What's this about anxiety and the news?


Look at any newstand, turn on TV news on your big screen, and what do you see? She's too fat, he's a paedophile, those immigrants are terrorists, the feckless are sleeping while you work to pay their unearned benefits, here's a picture of children who have just been bombed. Every single day.

It's fine, we tell ourselves. "I can handle it". "I need to know what's happening in the world".

OK, but a few things concern me.

Whether you like Corbyn or not, and whether you voted leave or remain, the press has revealed itself to have a strong voice and to be utterly biased. It's become as clear as it can possibly be that the press is only interested in itself. They don't care about you, so you have no reason to care about them.

I'm a marketer, so I work in persuasion. What's coming out now is that our subconscious minds, far from dreaming Freudian images of trains and tunnels, is a formidable mathematician. Stop reading if you like, but the evidence is mounting that our subconscious makes decisions before we are aware, and that the conscious mind then invents the reasons for that decision, giving us a veneer of rationality. That's not to say that we are unable to act independently of our subconscious, but the evidence says that when we do, we don't feel happy about it.

Our subconscious summarises and then assesses the current situation against a summary of past experiences. So we get: blondes have more fun, youths are up to no good, Italians are expressive and so on.

Your Subconscious Doesn't Know The Difference Between TV and Reality. So again: what's going to be the effect of pouring all those 'experiences' into your subconscious brain? It's going to change our behaviour.

We have an alert system, flight or fight. When that system kicks in, we are focussed and we do what we need to do (eg. to escape the burning building). While this is running, we can't think about anything else.

We have mirror neurons, so that imagining playing tennis makes us better tennis players because imagining how it would feel to do the movements is almost like actually doing them. Rehearsal.

So when we see shocking and upsetting TV footage, or read graphic details, do we not partly live it? Do we not plan how we would have acted differently, putting ourselves in that situation? Living the world's worst events every day.

And fine, we should rehearse. But we can do that without the trauma. If I say the FTSE is down, you can say "pfft, who cares", or you can mentally check your money for a couple of seconds. I don't have to call it "Terror Tuesday".

The thing is, if we are in an alert state, we can't be creative, or loving, or dream of big things. That's an incalculable loss to society. I'm not going all lovey dovey or tantric about it, I'm a very down to earth guy. I'm just saying .. wouldn't it be nice if this world was a bit nicer?

When a 'bad' army goes to war, they often create scare stories, trying to frighten their enemy into surrender, presumably the roots of psy-ops. I opened a Sunday Magazine a few years ago to see, without warning, the grimmest of war pictures. I think a constant barrage of mayhem delivered to us through the media makes us scared of life, makes us want protection and safety. Who has the task of protecting us? It's the first task of government. Is it outrageous to think that the more scared we are, the more we feel we need those at the top? "Please, sir, could I have a little bit more stability?" Watch Adam Curtis' Bitter Lake for more on that.

Essentially, to get news from almost anywhere nowadays, we are paying for it with our free will. We let the media fill our heads with traumatic ideas that change our subconscious and drive our behaviour in ways none of us can sense, but that suit the media. I know that sounds way out there in woo woo land, and I'm not saying there's some Dr Evil somewhere pulling levers to make you buy more Starbucks, but I've worked in persuasion for 35 years. I do know something about how it works.

Remember the study that said we are built to live in groups of about 100 people? If that's true, and if news organisations send out teams of people to record in graphic detail the worst things happening across the whole world so they can beam them back onto our diamond-sharp, overlarge TVs, woofers booming, and pour all of the world's trauma into our heads more than once a day .. well .. we haven't really evolved to deal with that. We're never going to be happy living that way. It's going to harden us, make us not care anymore. Do you trust Apple more than your neighbour?

What I'm not advocating is positive news. That's been tried. No-one wants soft-news, good-news happy mush about establishment figures and kittens. Nothing wrong with a good kitten video, but it's not for us.

The problem with withdrawing from news is that you lose touch with society. If you don't know what's happening, that's not so great.

So the idea of SimpleNews is really this. We'll tell you what's happening in a relaxed way, just a minute or two each day, and that's that. Once you've read our news, you can escape the whole thing. Throw away the TV and do what you want to do.

You may even find yourself more informed because we'll give you the gist of all the key stories from a wide range of sources, without fireworks.

This is not about being a wuss. This is about finding your own power. Centering yourself. Stepping forward with conviction.

That habit you have of checking for news, checking social media, checking for messages. Stop it. Be you, and let SimpleNews be your aide.

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