Media Hype & Dis-Information Bombardment (aka: Fake News)

Each day we wake up all giddy and chipper, with well-intended plans of hopping out of bed excited for the day’s adventures. Not so fast! I need my coffee first. Do not attempt any form of communication with me, nor make any gestures, before I have had my coffee, and not one minute before. I will notify you when I become civil.

We may sip our coffee, tea, or latte, in front of our iPad, computer screen, or television and look forward to being bombarded with at least 2,000 nauseating advertisements from media outlets promoting products, goods and services. How many home refinances, garage doors, new-and-improved investment strategies, whiter teeth, cosmetic surgeries, or new mattresses do you need . . . not to mention, gold jewelry purchases or shirts that don’t need to be tucked in?

I am amazed when talk radio broadcasters talk for only 13 minutes per half hour, but play advertisements for 17 minutes per half hour. And, part of the 13 minutes is wasted on self-aggrandizement. How about watching an old classic movie? A one-and-a-half-hour movie can take over three hours. 10 minutes of watching the movie, then watch 20 times/30 second segments of advertising. On a two-hour film showing you may very well spend an hour on advertisements. Why would anyone put up with it? But, I guess I am in the minority, since the average American spends 8 hours per day in front of the TV.

The most irritating of all are the unwanted pop-ups on my IPad. Someone (help me please!) refer me to a pop-up blocker, before I lose my mind. Even worse, the bottom of the barrel, are the robo-call advertisers who openly and gladly use fraudulent tactics, and get away with it. Never mind a “no call” list.

Additionally, there are estimated to be 90,000 new daily media blitzes, tv segments, and articles designed to get your attention, and/or sway you to modify your thinking, or to stimulate you to purchase.

Watching the news is no longer about information gathering, but rather, watching a collection of spin masters, because so much of their presented material is false—or at best, a biased spun-illusion. Very few media blitzes are intended to inform, but more to misinform. The more sensational, the better! Media frenzy is at an all-time high and is clearly designed to misinform and to inflame emotions. If the media repeats false or unproven illusions enough times, the gullible public will accept it as fact.

Mark Twain had humorous explanation: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

Some quotes are catchy “It is Putin’s fault!” “The Russians hacked our emails!” “You didn’t earn your own success;” “I’m with her!” “What difference does it make?” “You have to vote for it to find out what is in it;” “The big new leak;” “The spin stops here;” “He did it/she did it/they did it;” “Go get them for what they did/didn’t do!” And, most recently: “You can keep your doctor.”

Lastly, you have a choice of reading a few of the approximately one million new books written each year on every subject imaginable—20,000 introduced each week. The average reader could not even keep up with a catalogue of subjects like: “self-help,” “religion,” “business,” “politics,” “geopolitical,” “fiction,” “travel,” “athletics,” etc., much less just read the titles.

I can tell you from experience that the 80/20 rule applies

  1. 80% of the books have 20% of the quality or value
  2. 20% of the content of each book has 80% of the quality or value

If you are a good and obedient student in the system, can play along as the system intends for you to play, you can become one unimaginably well-read, well-listened, and well-misinformed participant. Very few of the purveyors of information are interested in your developing the capacity to think critically, challenge assumptions, and act accordingly. Otherwise, they might lose their false sense of value, and their advertising income.

You can absolutely find articles to reinforce your preconceived opinions, no matter how far out they may be. Yes, the aliens are watching us closely!

Learning to sift through the noise and find the real value in all of this is a process, and requires focused effort. I review about 20 different news sources each day. I do not ever bother with sources like CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, or MSNBC, who are willing to test boundaries for ratings. I read the name of the article and stay away from the “he/she said” and “he/she did it and is guilty.” I look for articles that reflect some business, political, or geopolitical wave, that will change the course of the future.

Two examples are the McDonalds franchise now installing kiosks starting with 5,500 stores for ordering and paying for food. McDonald’s restaurants are found in 120 countries and territories around the world and serve 68 million customers each day. McDonald’s operates 36,899 restaurants worldwide, employing more than 375,000 people as of the end of 2016. The magnitude of this change with one single employer, much less all its employees, is staggering. And, at my favorite sports bars I can now pour my own craft beer and pay from a self-service tap, without the need of a pesky bartender hustling for a tip. I am particularly excited about this. The gig economy, which is characterized by the prevalence of short-term or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs, will be the first to be disrupted.

On a national and international playing field these types of massive changes will replace jobs for entry level workers. You can be very sure that there are 100s of disruptive changes through technological improvements and medical break throughs coming that will change the way we live. Implications include economic, socio-economic, cultural, and mental health. Tax-paying consumers may think they will be the winners, but with diminishing (or elimination of) income by the entry-level workers, the tax-payers will eventually be required to pay for safety nets such as single pay health care. Unskilled, and low skilled workers will suffer over the long haul from these changes. Other than subsistence stipends, real consumer demand requires earned income.

Excuse me now, I must get ready to watch Dr. Phil, then Judge Judy. I will round out the night with Jeopardy. I miss Lawrence Welk, and the guy who said: “Really, really big show!” –Ed Sullivan, and my favorites: Archie and Edith Bunker!

Dan Harkey
Business and Private Money Finance Consultant
Bus. 949 521 7115
Cell 949 533 8315
dan@danharkey.com

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