When Media Messes with Minds!

Did you know the morning news shapes and rewires your brain for the day. Yes, sadly in sync with its too often glum messages of doom and destruction. New research on the brain’s plasticity shows how human brains rewire and work with the focus we emphasize daily. Have you found that pessimism leads to more of the same?

Media experts mess with your mind whenever they communicate block after block of cynical, negative, or pessimistic news. Unfortunately, over time media can reshape the brains’ plasticity across entire communities. How so? Repeated negative news  rewires dendrite brain cells so that brains create cognitive maps for gloomy results nationally. It doesn’t stop there either.

In response to poor tone that portrays people who differ, for instance, you too begin to vent.  Your own pessimistic communication in turn rewires your brain further by creating new neuron pathways toward more venting. It can be different – as people begin their days by communicating with the brain in mind.

Start your day with a solution or for one problem the media tosses into your ring, for instance, and you begin to hard-wire mentally for more success and answers, than problems. Have you seen it happen? Act on this one solution created,  and your brain builds new neuron pathways beyond negative ruts toward further solutions too.

Are you wired for well being, prosperity and a sense of wonder today? Rather than focus on news that wires you for aggression, angry barbs, poverty from lost jobs, or broken schools, why not brainstorm over coffee for an answer to leave behind with your legacy. If you can imagine a unique offering from your corner of the world, you’ve already set the pathway forward, and your brain will do the rest.

Take the economic gloom that pounds us daily from many angles. Or consider news about broken secondary schools that fail our teens to drop out of learning altogether. Rather than read on without reflecting, why not suggest a resolution instead.

How about a partnership program between adults who need work and teens who need tutoring, with the brain in mind?  It wouldn’t take that much effort to rejuvenate a few dozen adults’ minds in ways that prosper teens’ learning success. Your resolutions could be far better than mine! Yet because I direct an International Brain Based Center,  and developed an approach to learn and assess with the brain in mind, it’s my 2-bits.  Approaches out there prove to get higher motivation and achievement for teens and adults – and I see the potential with clarity.

No doubt, your talents will take you to different solutions. The key is to take your unique mix of intelligences into any media reports of negative, in search of solutions that work. Think of how this nation could rewire to stem the tide of negative mental ruts created through the media’s constant negative bombardment. What do you think?

24 Comments

  1. Tie in the gloom to a snowy or overcast day, and you can also see how it affects the melatonin levels in your brain. I wonder how many people simply begin to resign themselves to the negatives and go into depression themselves.

    Good news is that by working with our brains we can surmount these negatives. That’s what makes the difference.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Tap Social Media to Spread Happiness

  2. eweber says:

    Interesting that you raised the SAD issue Robyn, http://www.brainleadersandlearners.com/serotonin/lighten-up-the-sad-story/ as I had not thought of that link. Yet it’s there!

    Interestingly, as we create solutions, the serotonin levels raise and that too adds well being even to those gloom days beyond our windows!

  3. Eva Ulian says:

    I have a most wicked idea. I suspect that the media’s campaign of doom and gloom is maneuvered, if not sponsored, by politics. It is beneficial to the opposition to create an atmosphere of pessimism so that the votes next time round will go the other way, if not altogether bring an end to the government in power at the time. Depending on which political party a channel or newspaper is siding- the accent on news is much different, one will paint a picture dark, the other light- and as we know light affects that part of our brain that produces optimism.

    Eva Ulians last blog post..106. Three Writers I Know Who Click

  4. eweber says:

    Thanks Eva, you make a good point about the media’s agendas and that certainly may be the case in different areas. I like the way you offer angles not always apparent at first.

    Would you agree however, that in spite of the reasons behind any media reports – readers can climb back into the helm of their own brain, in terms of how we respond and move forward. I like to think we are less dependent on the negativity and doomsday read, once we act in more hopeful ways, with the brain in mind:-) Thoughts?

  5. Manipulation of emotional tone may be as inherent in a massively-financed media system as it is intentional. I’d think both mechanisms are in full effect. I often recommend the McGill “Brain From Top to Bottom” site to anyone interested in the many levels and systems involved in daily experience. Info is presented by topic, system level (molecular through social), and beginner to advanced. Here’s a link that supports your comments: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/a/a_04/a_04_s/a_04_s_peu/a_04_s_peu.html

  6. Conrad says:

    GL has a piece over on his blog today that dovetails nicely with this entry. I think both of you guys are on precisely the right path. You both have the knack of making positive not come out like Pollyanna!

  7. eweber says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Michael. Interesting, especially as I used to teach for McGill’s northern program:-). A fascinating perspective! It’s so important that we gain tactics to operate the mind beyond the fears that get spilled out by any source.

    Some say the media simply reflects society’s negatives. Others say that media exacerbates negative and harmful thinking that holds us back as a nation. What do you say?

  8. eweber says:

    Thanks for your kind comment, Conrad. GL is a good friend of mine! How does positive come out “not like Pollyanna?” Now you have me curious about brain research, GL’s blog and Pollyanna, all in the same sentence:-)

  9. gl hoffman says:

    Hi Ellen…Conrad was right, we are on the same page. I used to actually care if my message was too ‘pollyanish,’ meaning I think that it was just window dressing and not based in the real world. Now, with age perhaps?, I just don’t care what others may think. It works for me.

  10. Conrad says:

    GL and I grew up together! You and I both have a good man as a friend.

    What I’m referring to is that ability to speak positively without that starry-eyed gaze and the modulated voice. That sense of unfiltered authenticity, that earthiness, intellect connected with body that has the courage to defy cynicism and despair with a full frontal assault.

    Gee, I got kind of dramatic there! Must be something I believe in…

  11. gl hoffman says:

    What Conrad just said.

  12. eweber says:

    Good to see you GL, you are such a good writer! When life is good and when brain cells are poppin’ things are using rolling forward at breakneck speed! I agree. Lately the Center is a bit too busy and the problem is that all the parts are good – so where to cut back. Yikes!

  13. eweber says:

    Wow Conrad – I like that description. Sounds like a brain on fire with life. We need to encourage media experts to heed your “ability to speak positively without that starry-eyed gaze and the modulated voice. That sense of unfiltered authenticity, that earthiness, intellect connected with body that has the courage to defy cynicism and despair with a full frontal assault.”

    Now that would move this nation in a direction that others would enjoy and engage again. Right on!

  14. Conrad says:

    Now it’s my turn to say, “Aren’t you nice!” :O)

  15. Replying to your kindly asking what I think on whether media reflects or enforces negatives: after having way too many years to watch and be a part of all of this, I’m pretty convinced that all things human, be they individual, social or cultural, are direct reflections of the endless dynamic balancing of our shared internal structures.

    Given that only self-sustaining systems continue or repeat, I see the repressive, negative reinforcements of our 5000+ years of class warfare as a self-sustaining system that survives because it is based directly on, and is a social reflection of, the universal, internal struggle/education we each face in finding a practical yet pleasing balance of our autonomic systems’ control of our mood, outlook and ‘analysis’.

    Our autonomic binary choosings throw us to trust or fear, glowing love of the universal brotherhood of spirit and heart or frightened withdrawl into a torment of suspicion and separation, enlightenment or hatred. As you no doubt know, we’ve found the specific chemo-circuitry the fear side has at its disposal to over-ride the trusting: a mechanism that once provided natural protection from rare threats has been mis-applied to curse us with the 99% of our time that we feel and see nothing but terror.
    That mis-used autonomic control is what we need to adjust to a healthier place as individuals and as a society. I think that’s just what your approach aims to do for all of us.

    I’d say our stable, war-mongering and war-fed social system is as much the product of the emotional status quo we’ve come to accept as it is an imposed cage that requires that stagnation. The cretins like Bush and violent games of all types that seem to ‘master’ us by controlling our autonomics, are accidental benefactors of a situation they barely understand, and couldn’t have invented in the first place. Inbred upper classes are our historic norm, and always amusingly crippled mentally and emotionally when we get to know them.
    Nonetheless there is always an ongoing ‘Shock Doctrine’, too constant over the millennia to be entirely unconscious or unintentional. If the inbred are to remain at the top, they do have to be able to hire the effective. Society, as our reflection, has a left forebrain, too.

    The autonomic caging process seems to be what we need to learn to grow past, internally and socially, growing as a single action we all do at once. It’s all autonomic to me.

    Forgive the length of the comment, please. This opportunity dominates my thinking, and your ‘positive life builds and benefits from the neural substrate of a positive life’ is an inspiring and practical approach to just the changes I think we all and each need.
    I thank you all for your efforts.

  16. And, Conrad, that was just beautiful! All hail unfiltered authenticity! That’s the only way we ever get to meet each other, or have a positive effect on our world.

    Thanks for your clarity.

  17. rummuser says:

    Media’s sole purpose is to sell their space to get readership/viewership, so that their advertising revenue goes up. There is no other purpose. To gain this outcome, they will resort to anything that will gain viewers/readers and retain their loyalty. So, logically, what they offer must be what the viewer/reader wants.
    By intent or accident they have achieved this.

    Overtly they offer what appeals and covertly they present subliminal messages that influence us.

    With the freedom of speech and all that implies considered as sacrosanct, this is not something that can be avoided.

    What can be done is to create awareness that this is what goes on and increase the percentage of savvy viewers/readers who manage to retain their sanity and perceptive.

    It is evil no doubt, but necessary all the same.

    rummusers last blog post..Susan Squire, Author And Person Of Her Word.

  18. eweber says:

    Mike I am deeply inspired by your call for a return to a healthier mode and given what we know of the brain’s proclivity to move forward in just such a mode – I take the challenge for myself. Thanks also for articulating your ideas – and for offering us the gift of tone in your keen writing – so that differences may arise to teach us all. Seems to me that with such unity and across differences we can find and move in the more mutually beneficial way you suggest! Nice challenge to start a new day!

  19. eweber says:

    Ditto – thanks Conrad, Michael, and GL for that authenticity you call for, model, and foster here:-)

  20. eweber says:

    Thanks for your insights Ramana, are you saying that nothing can be done to stem the tide of negative media – or the impact it has on human brains? Can you elaborate a bit more?

  21. rummuser says:

    Yes, I am. As long as negative media gains TRP ratings, I am afraid that there is little that can be done other than use forums like this to spread the message. May be one day we will get a tipping point from which people will say enough is enough.

    The impact that it has on the human brain as a consequence has to perforce go through the process that you have listed here. What other option is there?

  22. eweber says:

    That option seems wonderful when you realize the extravagance of the human brian to won, to prosper others – and to create spaces for growth in spite of negative forces. It’s a gift I find more and more enticing as I see it’s wonder unpack in lives like mine and yours:-) What more could we ask, and how can we not want to give back in ways that rejuvenate our communities to enjoy a better world, where ethics takes center stage and humans are valued because they are human. A miracle of humanity:-)

  23. Wally Bock says:

    I’m a student of Melvin Konner, which, in this case, means that I believe that a behavior that appears again and again in different cultures and ages is probably hard-wired into us humans. I leave it for people like Ellen to figure out the mechanism.

    In this context though, note that humans love negative news. Whether it’s the morning headlines or water cooler gossip, it’s the negative we seem to crave. The media just reflect what we do on the phone with friends, in this case.

    That doesn’t mean the negative consequences that Ellen outlined aren’t real. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t do something to change the way we approach the world.

    Saying thank-you seems to be a good way. There’s good research that indicates that you will be a happier person if you’re a grateful person. For me that grows out of my faith.

    When my mother taught me to pray, she said that every prayer should begin with thanks for blessing. Throughout her life she lived that by writing at least three thank-you notes a day.

    I once asked her, “What happens if there’s no one to thank?” She fixed me with that mom look and said, “Wally, there’s always someone to thank.” She was right.

  24. eweber says:

    Wally – your build an amazing case for thanks! Yet I have to say that it is your friendship and wisdom that often leaves me shouting thanks – and that fact makes me realize your mother was right! There is always a person like you who more than deserves our thanks! What a wonderful segues into adventure a simple thanks can offer — when firmly planted on a person who deserves it. THANKS!

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button