Much of the news media is designed not to inform, but rather to intimidate. This is not restricted to talk radio, fringe "alternative media" websites, or purveyors of blatantly fake news. The established media outlets who are generally deemed "responsible and objective" are equally guilty. Yellow journalism is alive and well, no matter how slick and sober the presenters may seem.
How can you avoid this perverse addiction yourself? What are the signs that a news piece is really just more paranoia pornography?
You are being told that something is scary.
It may be related to partisan disputes, foreign policy, or just the latest fad that caught the eye of news editors nationwide. When something is presented as concerning, frightening, or otherwise in need of your full attention, it probably is just paranoia porn.
"Authorities are concerned about..."
Who cares what some self-righteous authoritarian control freaks find to fret over? Usually, these stories really just mean, "ohmygosh, people are exercising some vestige of liberty without permission," or, "those consequences of our authoritarianism mean we need to double down instead of reconsidering!" That's paranoia porn masquerading as public policy.
Misrepresentation of facts
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." At least, that's what a famous phrase of unknown origin popularized by Mark Twain asserts. The more specialized the subject, and the more complicated the data, the more likely you are being bamboozled by the media when they report it. Reporters aren't experts in the fields on which they report. Their job is to get a sensational story that will in turn get attention from an audience. Even when quotes are not taken out of context and facts are not grossly twisted into parodies of themselves, the inherent biases of the reporters and editors will necessarily skew what actually gets published. And what publishers want is often paranoia porn.
There are bad things in this world, and sometimes media accurately portrays that bad news. It is good to be somewhat aware of world affairs, but never forget that your sphere of influence means you need to devote attention to things you can actually control. Paranoia porn distracts from responsibilities, relationships, and recreation. It encourages us to feel outraged over things we cannot affect, and often are not even real problems at all. It is toxic to the soul. It poisons the mind. Be careful what you consume, lest it consume you.
What do you think? How do you weigh the veracity of news, and choose what is worthy of your concern? What warning signs signal to you that you are reading or watching sensationalist trash masquerading as news? Comment below!