Are we immersing ourselves in toxic emotions, stirred by the media which are regulated by government elite?
I was watching a particularly harrowing episode of a television adaptation last week, tears streaming down my face, fully engrossed in the moment of sexual and emotional torture when I stopped and switched it off. I could feel my pulse pounding, the tremble in my gut, my stress levels increasing with the story line. Excellent writing, certainly. Brilliant acting, most definitely. Entertaining? I’m not so sure. Every week seems to allow us access to a worrying escalation of drama that pushes the boundaries to illicit our emotional response. The more extreme the reaction, the greater the viewing figures. Are we so desensitised that only the most aggressive violence can provoke empathy?
What is all that doing to our body chemistry? Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress or fear, is known to interfere with learning and memory, lowers immune function and bone density, increases blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease, to name but a few influences. Another, more commonly known hormone, adrenalin, gives us the fight or flight response. Both of these chemicals are critical and useful in short bursts, allowing us to seize the day, be productive under deadlines, or flee from danger. Soon after the stressful event, cortisol and adrenalin return to normal levels, unless we expose ourselves to perpetual and continuous high stress factors. This can lead to depression, other mental illnesses and some statistics suggest, a lower life expectancy.
Are we inadvertently making ourselves ill with our viewing habits? Do the millions of advertisements for disease charities train our brains into thinking that we are all going to die early from Cancer, therefore we must donate until it hurts. This being despite the fact that the biggest killer continues to be heart disease from our stagnating lifestyles.
I look at Facebook, to see video after video of abused dogs, horses or children, many demanding money to pay for their advertising. I watch the news to find reports skewed away from the causes of tragedy to focus on the suffering instead. I answer my door to find people selling guilt, asking for my direct debit details. I am bombarded with blame. All designed to single out the individual. I should be in Eastern Europe rescuing dogs. I should be in Ethiopia, helping the starving. I should be in Syria helping refugees escape. At what point do we take a stand and point the finger of blame to those in power who cause the problems?
There needs to be a balance. One whose maintenance is too important to leave to the meddling of civil servants. While the charities are doing a sterling job in funding research, providing end of life care, rescuing critters, feeding the hungry, re-homing the refugees, and so on, our governments are busy spending our taxes on funding foreign militia, to perpetuate wars over resource rich lands. They prop up banks who have overstretched themselves with greed, or ‘oversee’ pharmaceutical giants raking in our donated funds to cure cancer or pay for drugs that the NHS can no longer afford. Our media rich lives are quite literally washing our brains in cortisol, distracting us from the real stories behind the scenes.
I am starting to think that the more I switch off from the world, the happier and healthier I will be.
Sam Nash is the author of the sci-fi conspiracy thriller, The Aurora Mandate. Release date TBA. You can find her at https://www.samnash.org or on Twitter @samnashauthor or Facebook.com/samnash.author.