COLUMN: Enough with the hype!

At the beginning of a new year, I want to address something that’s been weighing on me for quite some time now. It’s something that we’d all be so much better off if there was a whole lot less of it in the world.

I’m talking about hype.

It blares at us from every corner. From the endless “breaking news” slogans on cable news, to the click bait on websites, to nearly every commercial made, from radio, TV and billboards the endless avalanche of hype continues to crash down upon us. It deafens us and deadens our sense of what’s really important. Who can tell when everything is being presented to us as either the greatest or the worst thing ever?

When national leaders describe new bills as “Armageddon” then you know that hype is king. Sadly I don’t think most people even realize how exaggerated our language has become. We just sort of accept it and so live in a state of constant – and phony – alarm.

Take the recent bad weather on the East Coast. You’d be excused for thinking it was an unprecedented catastrophe that would end in the deaths of thousands when the weather people started using the term “bomb cyclone.” Oh my Lord – it’s a bomb! Well actually it was really cold, windy and it snowed a fair amount. In January. That’s right, apparently having very cold and snowy weather in January is now a bomb cyclone!

Silly me for thinking snow and cold are normal in January.

Of course hype works the other way as well. While bad things are the worst ever good things are also incredibly new and quite possibly the best ever! While making no comment I’ll just refer you to the recent speech by an entertainer at an awards show for an example of that.

There’s a reason for all this hype in our media of course. And the reason is money. That’s right, follow the money. Everything is hyped up so that we’ll click that link and make them money. TV shows and movies are hyped up so we’ll watch and they’ll make money. Elections are framed as the most critical ever, so that the right people will get elected and spend money.

Hype is used to manipulate and control us. When it works, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Hype preys on our hopes and fears. It’s usually pitched to fear because that’s easier to arouse. And so clever people, hidden behind their computer screens, pitch us loads of hype that all too often is swallowed whole.

Hype, like all fear, exaggerates what’s happening and all possible consequences. Fear always does that. And if we listen to our fears then we don’t even try to fight back, because things look hopeless. So we cave in and follow along like good sheep, which is of course exactly what the merchants of fear on all sides of the issues today want us to do.

So don’t do it.

Stop the hype by thinking things through as calmly as possible. Dump the hype by trying to do what everyone says you can’t do and just see what happens. If you fail, guess what? Failure isn’t fatal, you’ll live. But more often than not you’ll discover you can actually do what fear said you couldn’t.

So stop the hype in your life and, if enough of us do it, maybe we can cut it down to size! That would make this new year a whole lot better.

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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.

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