Fear mongering in particular on social media with a side serving of the news.
I think the main problem is figuring out what the agenda is for those were stirring up the fear. For politicians, it’s easy to understand. Fear will help them get elected and then they will have power and money. Powerful incentives to generate fear amongst the voters. “I will help you and ALL the others will make your life a misery.” Well, we don’t want misery, so we vote out of fear.
But what about others? In an example I saw just the other day - What did the authors get out of writing about how we are being lied to, their words, by those in charge of our food production? And how these five (read any number here) foods are bad for us? What is in it for them I wonder? I am addicted to NOT being in fear, so I didn’t read any further. But later I wished I had because I wondered if there was a reason I wasn’t been aware of, from the heading, for this kind of story. What was their expected result? Was there any expectation or was this just fear-mongering for its own sake?
I guess a cynic would not believe what is being written without some kind of background info check but the ‘great-unwashed’ (you and me generally) well, we often just believe what is being spouted and fear raises its ugly head.
Fear is Fear inducing
It's fear of fear as Timothy Ferriss implies in his book “The 4 Hour Work Week”.
Ferriss, Timothy. (2011). The 4 Hour Work Week. London: Ebury Digital
We become afraid of fear itself even if we have no particular argument with the topic. Of course, you would have had to read the whole article, but I for one have better things to do with the 20 mins it takes to read. I mean if I don't eat the foods they are bashing why am I frightened? Not sure. But I am.
Fear of fear again, I guess. The result is that we begin to doubt stuff in our lives, all kind of stuff. A bit like spooks around every corner and the Reds under the bed scare of the Cold War era and beyond.
Once we succumb to this fear of fear itself, positivity and our gratefulness for our lives are eroded and we are left in a sea of doubt, uncertainty, vulnerability and fear. No proof is needed. We are afraid.
That is really quite sad. Particularly if there is nothing to back up the stories.
Is the author selling us something? Other than his own insecurities? And his own unfounded fear? If you don’t question the likely truth, the background to the opinion, the credentials of the author, then you are letting yourself be sucked into the morass of fear.
I challenge each and every one of you. Next time you read an extremely negative story on Social Media or the TV or in a newspaper (online or onpaper) ask yourself the following questions:
True – Is what you are reading true? I mean is there some proof? What are the FACTS behind the opinion piece? What are the credentials of the person making the claims? How can we verify the so-called facts? Are they really only trying to sell you something and not letting the truth stand in the way of a good story?
Once we have answered these questions we will quite possibly have to discount the article right there, If it's not true or can’t be verified. Then forget it.
Logical – Does the whole thing make sense? Is it logical or perhaps just some sales pitch or wishful thinking. Do the arguments follow on from each other? Or is it only a disjointed series of pseudo-facts dressed up to look and sound good?
If our answers to these questions throw the logic of the comments into question, even if the ideas seem to be true as discussed above, then the article might not be worthy of any more of your valuable time.
Constructive – finally. Is the information constructive? By that I mean is it looking for the positives or focussing on mainly negatives? Nothing is wholly wrong. Right and wrong are two sides of the same coin. There are usually as many positive aspects of any situation than there are negative. If any article is not offering a way forward but is only tearing down an institution or person, or situation, idea or belief – even though it might be true (verified) and makes sense – it is again not worth time invested in it.
Most information we consume does not follow the TLC regime. If something we are reading or being told fails ANY ONE of these tests, it is more than likely fear-mongering.
We really ought to keep these questions/answers in mind when we share, like or repeat the stuff we read, watch, or are told. We might be perpetuating fear instead of imparting useful information.
*The TLC acronym comes from a book I read and loved a short while ago.
Estacio, Emee Vida. (2018). Imposter Syndrome Remedy: How to improve your self-worth, feel confident about yourself, and stop feeling like a fraud! (Psychology in your life Book 2). California, USA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
The Imposter Syndrome Remedy
Fear of Change eBook