This is outrageous!!

You’re being played for a fool, and that’s simply unacceptable! You have rights, you treat people right and you expect the same in return, and now they’re doing this!!?

No, this is simply indefensible, and yet, they keep doing it, and they keep getting away with it!

At what point will it end?

Having said all that, can I just start by apologising to you right now? Yes, everything above is true, but let’s be honest here – you’re reading this purely because you’ve no idea what outrage I was going on about, right?

At the same time, over time, you probably have been outraged by some news, or social media posts, haven’t you? And that is why you’re here now, reading this.

In 1982, Don Henley had a hit with a song called Dirty Laundry and the lyrics include the line “people love it when you lose, they love dirty laundry”. The song deals with the media’s obsession of dishing up dirt and horror  – “We got the bubble-headed bleached-blonde, comes on at five, She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye, It’s interesting when people die, Give us dirty laundry”.

Why did I apologise, and what does an old Don Henley song have to do with anything? It’s quite simple, really: news outlets don’t sell news – they sell advertising, and to sell advertising, you need site visits. The easiest way to do that these days is by using click-bait. You know, the sort of link that reads “This man tried a new hair dye, and you’ll never guess what happened next”.

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We both know you clicked links like that often enough before, and the fact that you’re here, right now, reading this proves you still do. Yes, I deliberately wrote a clickbait title and first few sentences, knowing it will trick you into visiting this post.

That’s what I apologise for, but to my defence, I have a valid reason to do so. You see, I needed to hammer a point home: you are being played for a fool, and you are being manipulated. The only question is this: what are you going to do about it?

Make no mistake, “doing nothing” simply means you will continue to be manipulated. Specifically, you’ll be manipulated into reading material you would probably never have chosen to read. Don’t be tricked into reading things designed to slowly poison your mind. Learn to recognise such things, and avoid them.

There’s an old story, quite probably fictitious, though that doesn’t matter. It tells of an old native American speaking to a youngster, telling them that inside of each of us there are two wolves, fighting. One is a good wolf, and one is a bad wolf, and the one that’s winning influences our actions and choices.

When the youngster asks which wolf wins in the end, the wisened voice replied: “That depends on which one you feed the most”.

The sentiment of that story is true, and we all need to carefully vet what information we feed our minds. This absolutely means you need to make conscious decisions about what you want to read. I really good place to start is to install a the Kitten Block web browser extension (if using a Chromium-based browser).
Kitten block will redirect you to pictures of kittens and tea, should you inadvertently click on a Daily Mail link.

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That alone won’t be enough, and you’ll need to do more. Carefully vet who you follow on social media, and ditch people who are constantly angry or negative (while recognising that the occasional rant is normal and healthy). Equally, remember that you have a responsibility towards those that follow you. Before simply sharing something, ask yourself if it’s true. Can you verify that? Some things we have to accept in good faith, but a healthy dosage of scepticism is always good. Even if something was true, should you share it? Remember the heart-breaking images of that drowned toddler refugee in the Med? Well, I do, and I honestly wish I never saw it.

Focus on what you can control. This is one of life’s greatest secrets. Let the things beyond your control go, and you will feel increasingly in control of your own destiny. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!

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