We news folks would tend to become desensitized to some of the emotional impact of such stories, because they were such an integral part of our daily jobs. About the only time we'd escape a daily flow of murders, fires, burglaries, and disputes was when there was a bigger, national story taking precedence, such as on election nights, or when we were working on special feature pieces about various interesting and hot topics.
Since I left that field, news shows have blended even more with the tabloid mentality, so that now a serial murder doesn't even have to be recent to be retold again and again through one of many "serial killers!" type series. With these somewhat numbed-out producers, writers, and anchors trying to grab the viewer with intense and enticing stories, teases, and intros, the viewing public eventually also becomes more numb to this massive flood of negative images and words being paraded on their television screens, every day and every night.
If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.
It is nearly impossible to escape this media blitz of destruction, sorrow, grief, loss, devastation, frustration, and sadness - with only occasional stories about the many who are doing something good. Avoiding negative stories and images in today's world would be nearly as miraculous as parting the Red Sea. It's as though everybody now lives a traumatic childhood, witnessing an ongoing series of horrors, cruelties, and heart-wrenching scenes from an early age. You can't really exist in today's world without knowing all the pain, sorrow, and trauma that exists all over the world.
As with everything else in life, much of the benefit or harm from the media comes from how we choose to use it. For example, becoming aware of troubles and pains across the globe can be a blessing if that inspires us to heal those problems.
Personally, I consider it a blessing to have life lessons ready to view on television any time I might want some material to enjoy or consider. With television, I can enjoy my peaceful and somewhat hermit lifestyle while still being able to keep up with the world, the news, and current trends. It also gives me an abundance of material for contemplation or writing, with the flick of a channel. As the humorist, Swami Beyondananda, likes to say, the purpose of this material world is to give us good material!
Remember, this media explosion is still a fairly new development on the human evolution scene. Television wasn't even close to being around at the turn of the twentieth century. Why, I'm not all that old, and TV's were rare and only black and white when I was very young. The last few generations are the only ones that grew up having scripted friends and extended families on television.
Only in recent decades have the network and cable stations turned to so much negative fare, although recent years have also shown some promising possibilities for using television and film to actually uplift people and our society - what a concept, using the media for good!
The proliferation of media can also bring other benefits, including entertainment, emotional release, humor, education about many cultures, and - especially with the move toward reality TV - countless lessons about the human experience, from the honorable to the pathetic. Quiz shows, talent and survival competitions, personal exposés, court battles, dating shows, and other kinds of reality television not only catch our voyeuristic attention, but also offer living models we can watch and study to learn more about how human beings act and react in different situations. With these observations, we can learn more about human nature, and can also begin to look more closely at understanding and improving our own personal natures.
Nevertheless, if you find yourself feeling unhappy while watching too much of certain kinds of shows, then by all means, do make use of that remote to change the station, or to turn the television off and do something more constructive with your time. Meditate! Contemplate! Write the book you've always wanted to write! Learn to cook a new dish. Help your children with their homework. Sing a song. Have a friendly conversation. Take a class. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. You know your life and your preferences -- find some good inner or outer company that will uplift and inspire you with greater happiness.
Do your best to be around people who are good company - who want to be happy, and who want to see you be happy. And, most importantly, be good company for yourself, because that is the company you have for life.
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Table of Contents
by Sharon Janis
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Section One: Exploring Happiness
Section Two: Introducing Spiritual Happiness
Section Three: 39 Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
3. Know Thyself
14. Choose Happiness
28. Be a Blessing
38. Enjoy the Trip!
39. Be Optimistic
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