I hope you had a great year, I really really do.
But for many of us, the year was hardly a good one – consider the many celebrity icons who left us; all the political battles, insults and turmoil; the heartbreak of Aleppo; and the fear for our planet and ourselves.
Years ago I started this blog with the vision of “using the media to make a difference.” I remembered when I was young how some of the first shared television experiences brought such unity to the world as we watched together: everything from The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Kennedy assassination, the moon landing, and even when Baby Jessica fell down a well and was rescued on national TV (followed by the coal miners rescue, and of course 9/11).
Well, the media does make a difference; we know that now.
Unfortunately, the media is infinitely more powerful than the people using it are skillful. Far too often the conversations promoted in media snowball into something far more nefarious, misleading and confusing than anyone who simply was doing their job, trying to make a buck or get a click, might have imagined.
So how do we wrest the awesome power of the media to use it for the betterment of humankind?
Here are my Five Tips to Using The Media To Make A Difference
- Recognize the awesome power of media. Words really do matter. Images matter. What else forms the basis of all our thoughts and beliefs than what we hear and see projected outside of us? Reporters can tell stories and provide context to help us better figure out our world in a meaningful way. But why wait for the media to fix themselves? You can make a difference with every post you make and each story you share. Did you fact-check? Are you providing meaningful context?
- Don’t fight fire with fire. The only thing fighting fire with fire accomplishes is burning the whole house down. Back-and-forth blame, shame, and told-you-so doesn’t help move us forward. I’m not saying you can’t address what concerns you, but just consider finding the skill to do so in a way that unites us, even if we agree to disagree. If there is something you can do to sway the other side, do so. But remember, there is an art to persuasion. Use it wisely.
- Don’t label people. See the bigger picture. I’ve seen far too many bullies break down and cry with the deepest remorse to not believe there is a higher goodness (potentially) in everyone. Yes, everyone.
- Find something you have in common with another – the world needs more happy, kind and generous people than people who think they are “right.” Remember the Cubs celebration; be like those 5 million people and gather to demonstrate “that human beings can accomplish more for others and for the group than they can for themselves.”
- If all else fails, at least be professional – it can be very disarming. When faced with an opposing viewpoint, treat the other like a valued client or friend or whatever can help you muster the respect to bring out the best in them. And if they don’t want to hear you, acknowledge that point. Maybe we need to do more listening, too.
At some point we all might be asking ourselves, Is this enough? What more can I do? What am I willing to do? How can I change the minds and reach the hearts of people whose actions harm innocent people? How can I fix the world?
As Wayne Dyer said, there is a spiritual solution for every problem. Can we find it in time?