Is Mass Media Feeding Your Anxiety?


How Do You Feed Your Anxiety?

I mentioned in a previous post about the fear of the unknown. It occurs when we’re faced with something that’s unfamiliar or something we don’t understand. 

We become anxious about what that unknown thing means for our lives; most of us cope by exercising, listening to music or connecting with friends. However, there are some people who seek out information in an effort to resolve their anxiety; it may or may not be true and sometimes it ends up being misinformation that causes us to become more anxious toward that unknown thing they fear.

Misinformation refers to false or inaccurate information. Sometimes its due to errors or inaccuracies caused by false rumors, insults, pranks or embellishment; other times it’s due to disinformation caused by the deliberate falsehood by design and this includes malicious content such as hoaxes or propaganda.

If you’re feeling anxious please click on the link below and download my free anxiety expert guide:

What are the Sources of Misinformation?

Misinformation along with disinformation and propaganda has been around as long as mass communication; which began with the development of the printing press at the end of the 14th century. 

In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with mass media including the mainstream media and social media.

The mainstream media consists of news organizations and their websites. They are always competing with each other for ratings or views and they’ve always embellished news stories.

To embellish something is to add something more interesting or entertaining to add extra details to a news story, especially the ones that are not true.

Due to the rise of internet news organizations along with social media mainstream media news organizations have seen a decline in ratings among the coveted 18 to 49 year old age demographic. Not only news media, but television viewership in general. Declining viewership had meant declining quality in the form of embellishment.

Social media is emerging as the main source of news online; along with other digital technologies. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have allowed journalists to instantly report just by using their smartphones.

Over 77 million Americans have a social media profile. Being on social media allows you to easily connect with a large audience. It’s an effortless way to connect with like minded people regardless of location with just a single click.

Observers often lack the skills and motivation to interview participants to get the full unvarnished story. This can lead to the reporting of news that’s often distorted by the observers built-in bias (prejudice), intended to inflame public opinion or to play down the impact of an event known only to the observer.

More often than not social media will only give you news and information tailored to what it thinks you want to read about.

What are the Consequences of Misinformation?

The effects of misinformation on your mental health is the same as gaslighting.

Gaslighting is described as a form of manipulation and control in which a victim is systematically and deliberately fed false information that leads them to question their own self-worth and even their sanity. It can occur as a form of emotional abuse in our personal and professional relationships, but overtime misinformation  from the media can have the same effect.

Constantly being fed false information can contribute to a victim’s sense of hopelessness and confusion and lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

An example of gaslighting by the media has been the news coverage of the Coronavirus.

According to scientists we know that the Coronavirus is officially called COVID-19; it comes from the same family of viruses as the common cold. 

COVID-19 is a new strain that has not been identified in humans; it’s zoonotic meaning its transmitted between animals and humans.

It’s recommended that to prevent the infection from spreading you need to wash your hands more frequently, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and to avoid close contact with anyone showing any of the symptoms listed above.

Since COVID-19 is a disease that was not previously known it’s only natural that people all over the world are experiencing anxiety and fear. I mentioned in a previous post about the fear of the unknown; it is a human instinct intended to protect you from potential threats. 

The amount of anxiety people are experiencing varies widely; since there’s an absence of clear cut resolutions many people are worrying and trying seek out more information in an effort to relieve their anxiety.

However, people seek information through the news; whether it’s through mainstream media or social media. The news is either embellished to exaggerate the story in order to get you to watch it more or the information is full of errors and inaccuracies that cause you to be in a constant state of confusion and make you feel hopeless as your anxiety worsens.

The constant negative news coverage has led to a form of collective gaslighting that’s making us more anxious than we have to be.

Don’t Want To Feed Into Your Fears? Here’s What To Do?

Focus On What You Can Control: If you’re feeling anxious and you’re seeing to resolve those feelings. Instead of using news media to try to resolve anxious thoughts you refocus your attention on what you can control, because to tell you the truth you have no control over things that are either happening or will happen. However, you are in control of how you react to what’s happening or to what you fear. 

Be Mindful That You’re Not The Only One Feeling Anxious: It’s comforting to know that you are not the only ones feeling anxious. If you’re looking to resolve your anxiety you’re better off talking about it with other people.

Mindfulness Meditation: The misinformation spread by the media can make it feel like reality is being distorted. Mindfulness Meditation helps you stay aware of what’s really going on; it protects your mental health and increases your attention span, along with helping out with slowing down racing thoughts and overwhelming feelings of anxiety.

Limit The Amount of Time You Consume Media: Limiting how much media you consume has many benefits including having a better ability to focus, having a greater sense of self-awareness and improved mental illness. It’s estimated that more than half of Americans experience stress and anxiety from watching the news, so reducing how much you watch is a positive.

Be Mindful About The Accuracy of The Information You Have: Start by empowering yourself with accurate information by fact-checking every piece of journalism you read and every headline you share on social media.

Have You Ever Felt More Anxious Trying To Find Answers To What You Fear?

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3 thoughts on “Is Mass Media Feeding Your Anxiety?

  1. I really appreciate this article. I avoid most media because of the embellishments but I have family members that seem to thrive on bad news from TV news stations. The Corona Virus was this week’s topic and after the family member pushed everything he learned on me and my daughter (in an effort to ‘protect’ us), we both had an anxiety attack. What we did to relieve this was look up the facts about how many have gotten the virus, how many had survived, what the percentage was of the people that got it compared to the population. Those facts and a few others gave us the relief we needed to work out of the anxiety. It was a lesson to know that any story that anyone tells us is told through their lens in how they see the world, or what news station they are listening to and to not take that information in as fact. In our situation it was an elder ‘smart’ person that relayed the info so we took it in. It seriously sounded like the end of the world was here.

    1. I was the same way. The bombardment of negative news about the corona virus sent my anxiety through the roof. On the other hand any major thing going on in the world the media will blow it out of proportion to get more people to watch their show. I think its dangerous how we’re purposely misinformed.

      1. I completely agree that it is dangerous. Just one point on the danger on this subject is that if someone does get it and believes they are going to die because of the news blowing it out of proportion, they probably have more of a chance of dying because of the belief the news has instilled. They are stressed with lowered immune systems to fight it off among other things.

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