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I just heard Robin Roberts (GMA) say this regarding last nights debate, and it’s effect on voters:

“Later we’ll hear from the people who might decide this election.

Um…will decide this election”

I’m not usually one to buy into conspiracy theories, but I have to say, this got me wondering.   Did she mistakenly let it drop that the media is controlling our election process, then realize what she had done and backtrack?  That’s what it seemed like to me.

This got me thinking.  Not just about our election but about our entire national conversation.  What are the hot topics today?

  • Trump versus Hillary
  • Black lives matter; cops lives matter
  • The 1% versus the rest of us
  • Guns
  • Local murders, robberies, car accidents
  • Pop culture

The issues we are talking about are the one’s the media has decided we should be talking about.   All of the media.  They are all covering the same stories, each with their own personal bias, but they are all talking about the things.

I know some really smart people who will claim that they are not puppets to the media because they read many different newspapers/news sources.  Certainly, they know more about each subject than I do, but they are still talking about the same subjects.

I spent a long time with a covert narcissist and here’s what I understand (in retrospect, of course):  those with no compassion, no concern for their impact on others, are masters of distraction.   Media outlets, television news, newspapers, online news sources, are not concerned with the impact they have on we the people.  They care about 1 thing and 1 thing alone:  financial survival.   I don’t mean to criticize them for this.  Clearly if they are not financially solvent they won’t be in  business, so they have to think about this.

What difference does it make, you ask?  When we are distracted from the real issues, we get into trouble.  I know this because I spent 25 years in trouble, paying attention to the wrong problems.  Instead of working on whatever issue I might be trying to address, I was forced to look in a different direction.  For example, if I said “I really need you home for dinner to help with parenting” I was met with “you have no right to ask this.  I’m paying the bills, you aren’t, and I have to come and go as I want”.  Now, instead of talking about a parenting, we’re talking about his job and how difficult it is.  The conversation has changed, and I learned 2 things:  1 – I have no right to ask for anything, and 2 – his needs/wants are more important than me and our children, at all times.  Once this message was delivered enough times I got the message, and the discussion of his schedule was off the table; it no longer came up.  He had changed the conversation and I hadn’t even noticed!

How does this apply?  I believe that we have the 2 Presidential candidates we have today because of our media outlets.  I believe that they focused on these two candidates because it was good for business.  It boosted their ratings and their readership.   And it wasn’t just one media outlet.  Once it was clear that these two candidates boosted ratings while the other candidates didn’t, each media source was on board.  The other candidates simply had no choice, because they weren’t good for ratings.

The issue of “black lives matter” versus “cops matter” versus “all people matter” is crazy!  All we hear about are the shootings or other abuses inflicted on black people by white cops.  This is horrendous, but it is not the Real Issue.  The real issue is that there is still racism in our country.  The real issue is that we still have ghetto’s, our inner city schools don’t have books, our poor have to work 2 or 3 jobs and even then still don’t have health insurance.  That is the issue, but it’s not going to boost ratings.  If anything, it will make the average person change the channel – not because they don’t care but because they realize how helpless they are to effect change.

The issue of guns and our “rights to carry” is also ludicrous.  We are not the only country with violence and mass shootings.   Other countries have daily bombings, or stabbings, or glory killings.  People are violent.  Human nature is messy and unpredictable.  Psychologists have yet to pinpoint a factor that leads one to become a mass shooter.  We’d like to look at the Columbine shooters, or the Sandy Hook shooter and say we should have known this was going to happen because of x, y & z.   We can’t.  We can’t predict what people are going to do.  We don’t have a grasp on the interplay between human nature, DNA and external factors.  There are too many factors to make humans predictable, and that is scary as hell!  So instead of talking about how unpredictable people are and how little we understand them, we talk about how important it is for schools to have safely systems.  What we end up with is simply ridiculous.  My public high school has locked front doors and a computer system which “prevents entry” until the person has scanned their license and taken a picture.  Come on now.  Am I the only one who gets that if a shooter comes to the school, he/she isn’t going to stop to scan their license, they are going to shoot up the door and go in.  I don’t know how much was spent on that system but I assume it was a lot.  I personally wish they had spent that money hiring another Psychologist to work with the students, but neither option would guarantee safety.

I won’t go through the rest of what we are told to talk about, but I think we, as smart, capable people, need to start redirecting our conversations.   We, as caring, concerned citizens need to stop being told by our media outlets what to talk about.  We need to start talking about the real issues, like poverty and racism. We need to talk about how to bring people together instead of tearing them apart.  We need to talk about all that is good and how to build on that, instead of focusing on what is wrong and how hopeless it is.  We need to stop pointing fingers and start embracing each other.    We need to accept that a different perspective is not necessarily wrong, and there might be something we can learn from listening.

We need to go to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia and read the newspaper articles and letters written 200 years ago because they teach us an important lesson:  we are arguing about the same things we were arguing about 200 years ago.   While we are busy believing that we have evolved and have come so far, we are overlooking the fact that there are two driving factors to everything we do and say:  the 1st is human nature and the 2nd is money.  These are the 2 issues that were being discussed then and they are still being talked about today.

Imagine what might happen if we all stop listening to the media and spent that time doing something good in our community.  Where might that lead?  I don’t know what that would look like, but I’d so love to see it!