The way our media portrays the news about Coronavirus may be more dangerous than the actual virus, at the moment.
In other words, the tone of fear that pervades every news story about this virus is creating more harm than the virus itself.
For example: We read about the NBA shutting down all games, and the NCAA playing to empty stadiums; Disney closing their theme parks; certain states have shut down restaurants and bars; movie theaters are closing down, airlines are cancelling flights, Church services cancelled, etc.
All of these facts should make everyone feel one thing: Safe [not Fearful].
Because these proactive steps are all how we work together to defeat this virus and keep it from spreading to the most vulnerable among us.
So, these closures should create feelings of protection – like a big warm blanket wrapping around our shoulders to add yet another barrier between us and the this virus.
Instead, the media reports this news with a tone of fear. They broadcast with glaring headlines that put us into “End of the World” mode, rather than assuring us that these measures keep us safer than we would be otherwise.
And the people most impacted by this media fear frenzy? Those who wrestle with emotional and psychological issues on a daily basis. People who struggle to get through an ordinary Tuesday afternoon without having a panic attack or anxiety issues are especially paralyzed right now. Not by the virus, but by the way our media has weaponized their reporting to accentuate the dangers and downplay the appropriate measures we’re taking to keep everyone safe.
Simply put: Fear sells, and make no mistake, our media outlets [Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc.] are selling fear 24/7, 365 days a year.
If you’re fearful, you’re easier to manipulate. If you’re afraid you’ll keep your eyes glued to the screen for constant updates of your impending doom and rely on them for life-saving information that might help you survive this surreal apocalyptic doomsday we find ourselves in right now.
But, this is not a doomsday. Not yet. [And I’m not trying to downplay the dangers here at all. Believe me.] I know this virus is potentially deadly. I understand that we have to take these things seriously. One hundred percent.
However, the news media is acting as if we are already at Defcon 5 and we really aren’t.
Just take a step back and ask yourself: “How many people do you know who actually have been diagnosed with Coronavirus?”
I asked this on my Facebook page yesterday. I received 136 comments. The majority of answers were “No”, but surprisingly, there were about 15 people who said “Yes”.
Now, my point [once again] wasn’t to say “See? This isn’t really anything to worry about” as much as it was an attempt to put our situation into perspective.
Is this something to worry about? Yes.
Is this something to freak out about, yet? No, it’s not.
Should we take these warnings seriously – to wash our hands, avoid large crowds, cover our mouths when we sneeze or cough, stay home if we’re sick, etc.? Yes. Absolutely, yes!
And having said all of this, let me also stress: We need to stop and realize that this pandemic pandemonium has created a lot more toxic stress for those who are struggling with emotional anxiety than we could ever know.
If you have a friend who wrestles with fear or anxiety, please take some time to check in on them, often. Let them know it’s going to be ok. Talk to them. Help the keep their minds off of the endless news cycle which only stirs up their fears and increases their anxiety levels.
Also, please remember to take a step back whenever you read something on social media or hear something on the news. Ask yourself if what you’re hearing is true. [That’s step one]. Then ask yourself if it’s really something worth sharing with others or not. Consider how it might impact those who wrestle with anxiety or struggle emotionally. [Not everything is worth sharing]. Are you adding to the fear-storm? Or are you actually helping to share helpful information?
Most of all, try to keep in mind that whenever you hear about closures, these are positive stories, not negative. Regardless of how the media wants to portray it, these things are how we’re all going to survive this thing.
Of course, we should also do our best to keep an eye on our neighbors, [you know, the people who actually live next door or across the street from us?], because at this early stage of the game, the more we can show our faces and smile and offer to share what we have with them, the easier it will be to maintain this smiling, sharing, “how can we help each other out?” tone if and when things ramp up to the next level.
In other words, it will be better for us tomorrow if we start sharing what we have today.
If anything, this global pandemic may actually turn out to be an exceptional opportunity for us to “be the Church” in our communities [especially since “going to Church” isn’t much of an option anymore]. And this is what will matter the most: Are we truly Ambassadors of Peace and Reconciliation?
This is the time to prove it. This is where we get to find out whether or not we love God – by loving one another as we have been so loved.
Remember: Perfect love casts out all fear.
And, I don’t know about you, but I really think we need a lot more love right now, and a lot less fear.
Don’t you agree?
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Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife have returned to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure. They hope to start a new house church very soon.