Sometimes it’s easy to get swept away with propaganda and public perception. The media massively influence our lives with the information they provide but it’s so easy to read their interpretations of the facts as the unbiased truth, when in reality they are just trying to sell their product.
I love the line at the beginning of the film Love Actually, spoken by Hugh Grant, that goes along the lines of:
“General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there… When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”
I hear that line and I think about all the things the newspapers and broadcasters don’t talk about because it doesn’t fit with the theme of current perception.
I’ve always been interested in the media response to situations and how everything is interpreted by them. Sometimes it depends on which paper you read, sometimes it depends on what the ‘spin doctors’ have fed the newspaper. Often I think that this is how a juror might feel… having to read between the lines and trying to actually imagine the true reality between the omissions and the interpretations.
Recently I looked into why the newspapers mainly write about dramas and bad news and it was described like this – if you were walking past your newsagent and saw a headline that said “Great weather forecast today” you wouldn’t buy the paper. You’d think “That’s nice, I might go out with the kids this afternoon.” However, if the paper said “Damaging gales due to hit England” you’d probably buy the paper to see if it would affect you or someone you know. That’s how papers sell.
And the newspapers trick us sometimes too. There was a headline on a news stand a couple of months back “Katie Price questioned in drink driving incident!” You read the headline and you immediately assume that Jordan has been drink driving – which is what you’re supposed to assume. Actually she was the friend of someone who had been in a drink driving incident.
So sometimes it’s good to look at the actual facts rather than read others interpretations.
Case in point: The Recession
At the moment, everyone will have you believe that business is bad for everyone, that everyone is struggling, that recession means that we’re all doomed!
Well, yes, things are a little tough. There are more big companies going bust. However if you look at the facts, there are also a lot of companies posting increased profits:
Kingfisher Group (who own B&Q)
Severn Trent Water
Halfords (apparently because it’s become less ‘blokey’)
Youngs & Greene King (despite opinion that the pub trade is about to collapse)
So what’s the moral of this story? Always look at the facts. Money doesn’t just disappear – it’s still out there. People are just being a little more cautious with it. (It’s even worth reading about how a recession happens and what defines a recession.)
The world isn’t evil. Smile at a stranger, give someone your day’s parking voucher in car park and you’ll start to see the nicer side of human nature.
So here’s to a more positive and well informed 2010.