Are you swamped with information? Confused by the news? Wound up by the commentary swirling around? Do you feel like a pawn in a game?
Who’s naming that tune? Is it you, or the people hidden behind the stories? If your mood takes a dive when you turn on the TV or fire up the Internet, do yourself a favor and take control with some critical evaluation. Here’s how.
Get the whole story, not just a snippet of text or a three-second sound bite. Words may take on a different meaning when they’re quoted out of context. Dig deep. Look beyond the surface for the true source of the story. Understand potential bias of the source. Expect the broadcaster to be loyal to their financial backers just as employees are typically loyal to their employers. Consider both sides. Find a source that presents both alternatives. Consider the details, but focus on the big picture and long-term effects of each alternative. Apply the old adage, “Only believe half of what you see and none of what you hear,” with a little reserve, of course. Some skepticism is healthy, but pure cynicism is counterproductive. Consider the receiver — that’s you! Be honest with yourself. Are you biased so that you only hear what you want to hear? Are you uneasy with the unknown and unwilling to explore new alternatives? If you have thoroughly evaluated the issue just unplug. Turn off the TV. Change the subject of conversation. Avoid people who can’t talk about anything else. Remember the marketers and politicians are well educated on how to manipulate the public for their own purposes. Don’t expect them to be looking out for you. That’s up to you!