Over the past year or so, while the media has been feverishly scratching the word “recession” into our retinas even though there continued to not be one, it seems like they have finally gotten their way. That’s made me wonder about the role of media in this whole economic slowdown thing.
As a consumer, I am going to run my financial life a certain way unless either experiencing directly a habit-altering event, or if the threat that such an event could happen is made more severe.
As a 24/7 media outlet, I have to attract eyeballs as much as possible for as long as possible. Feel good stories give people the warm and fuzzies, but disaster, doom and peril are good for ratings, especially when it’s close to home for enough people. Just ask the Weather Channel what happens to their ratings in Virginia Beach when a hurricane is heading up the east coast.
The problem here is that unlike a hurricane, an economy is an ever-changing thing. A hurricane’s path isn’t influenced by the media the way that human behavior can be.
As Live Science points out:
“Warnings about a recession create a similar self-fulfilling prophecy — or, thought of another way, an anti-placebo effect. Just as a placebo (a non-effective "remedy") can make people feel better simply on the basis of their belief and expectation, recession worries can make people panic because they feel like they should.
In fact, much of the expert advice for how to survive a recession (save money, reduce debt) actually perpetuates it. Later this year the government will be issuing checks to taxpayers in an effort to stimulate the economy, but that will have little impact if those dollars go into savings accounts instead of being spent on consumer goods.”
Which makes me wonder if there's a way that media can be used to help correct the problem. Or is that too weird and Orwellian? Maybe it’s just a matter of waiting until something more interesting comes along and distracts us. Maybe our short attention spans will save us in the end.
Here’s hoping the election does the trick…
I don't know if this is more of an implication of our being desensitized to violence in video games or our cultural priorities being out of whack, but it seems to this casual observer that severed human heads should ALWAYS be ranked more offensive than what a man and a woman do when they love each other very, very much … no matter what the context. Am I wrong?
(via Water Cooler Games)