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Choose a gentler approach

Where do you get your news? If your news resource is internet-based, as opposed to radio, print or traditional television( and even then!), take a hard look at the verbs and adjectives in your headlines, or the top-line message intended to get you to click for more. Because, no matter what source you follow, no matter what philosophy or point of view they espouse, I would bet the language in the headlines is . . . what's the right word? Inflammatory? Incendiary? Overblown? Misleading? Suggestive? Exciting? Enticing?

Here's a sampling of headlines from a variety of internet sources just this week:

  • Terrifying footage shows collapse of Arecibo Observatory's massive radio telescope

  • Powerhouse Ida slams into Louisiana

  • Frantic rescue as fire engulfs 20-story apartment building

  • Now the U.S. government is acting like Nazis

  • Secret JFK mistress breaks her silence almost 60 years after assassination

  • Theranos founder claims abuse by ex-boyfriend

  • Unvaccinated, unmasked teacher caused community-wide outbreak

  • Covid vaccine complications dwarfed by virus risks

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student intervenes during an arrest and you won’t believe what happens!

  • The 30 most shocking government secrets

  • NASA releases series of shocking satellite images

  • The shocking numbers behind Lake Mead crisis

  • A hiker was lost and desperate

  • Shocking video shows out-of-control brawlers

  • Furious crowd forces Justin Trudeau to cancel event

  • 34% of Baby Boomers Are Making This Massive Social Security Mistake

Look at those words: secret, dwarfed, shocking, slams, terrifying, desperate, furious, frantic, Nazis, the world of the internet, the only thing that really matters to the creators of content -- even those who position themselves as "news" -- is that you click on their headline. So, they use very strong language. I mean, what normal person doesn't want to know what terrifying thing is happening? "Shouldn't I know this?" you ask yourself, quite logically.

The reality is that most of what's happening is not terrifying or shocking or done by Nazis. Life is full of scary events. Hurricanes like Ida currently hitting Louisiana are bad. Fires happen. Buildings collapse. People are lost or left behind. All of these things are bad. But when every headline screams at you for your attention, then it begins to feel like the entire world is collapsing all at once. It is not.

it's very challenging in the world of screaming headlines, of grasping clickbait, of partisan extremism, of nationalistic furor, of but-what-about-this-thing conspiracies to remain calm. It's hard to take a breath. It's hard to separate the noise from the real need, the real pain, the possible solutions, the what-can-I-do-in-my-world-to-help.

I'm not saying things aren't bad or there isn't a need to be engaged. Things can be bad. You can do your part to help the cause you believe in.

I'm saying go gently. Think carefully. And go gently. Of course there's a time and place for everything and you can choose to be frantic and loud. But over the long run, that's difficult to sustain and eventually, like the boy who cried "wolf," people will ignore your.

Or you can choose to go gently.


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