How NOT to Read the News

I worked with the media for many years. I know how the news gets made. I even wrote a book called American Spin. The media has changed since I wrote American Spin. Like many other institutions in the American culture, the media no longer abides by a code of decency or honor. Consequently, it is increasingly difficult to tell what is real from what is not. When no one can agree on reality, the world becomes a very scary and dangerous place.

All media outlets regardless of whether they are progressive, liberal, moderate, conservative, alt-right—however they define themselves—are guilty of throwing dust in our eyes to blind us from their true intentions (to make money at our expense).

There is something perverse and horrifying about scanning the news on our phones, seeing babies dying in Gaza, juxtaposed next to gossip about celebrities wearing wigs, and an ad for Scope Mouthwash. Dishing up tragedy, trivia and trash in the same screen creates ambiguity, a false take on reality, and it is eroding our consciousness. The news has become a trigger for anxiety, depression, anger, and despair.

Yet, it’s important for us to know what is going in the world, so that we can make informed decisions about how to vote, how to live and work, and how to best take care of the people whom we love. During the tumultuous times in which we live, there is a way to stay informed without sacrificing our mental health. The cure for what plagues us isn’t a prescription for antidepressants or intensive therapy. We can get together to share information. We can engage in our own talk therapy sessions by creating a salon.

Salon culture dates back centuries. Some notable examples include Gertrude Stein’s Paris Salon during the 1920s, or Mrs. Fields opening her home in Boston (148 Charles Street) to the best and brightest from law, theater, music, art, and literature. Salon culture is thought of as pretty fancy—scholars, scientists, academics, artists and authors coming together to delve deeply into the big issues. Hoity-toity and highbrow, indeed. Lesson learned! People from all walks of life can gather together to talk about what is going on in this troubled world!

Discover the reality of salon culture, a safe place for people to talk in depth about almost anything. Meet at a restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop or gather in someone’s living room. Get together with people who you know, and trust that they will give everyone a chance to talk, without incurring wrath or retribution. In-person discussion is the only way to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

We can no longer trust the media to dish up a healthy dose of reality, but when people get together in a salon environment to talk, they can compare important information to discern the truth. Learn what is true and what is not—so we can agree or agree to disagree about what is real and what is not.

Every individual regardless of their education, politics, religious faith, or income level has a wealth of experience to share. It’s okay to challenge someone’s belief. It’s also okay to shut up and listen—you might learn something. Every person has something to contribute, something to say, and can back their opinions with facts. Be bold. Have the courage to speak about what keeps you up at night—that’s why we live in America, because it is marketplace of ideas, a culture free and open to all, a true democracy.








Patricia Vaccarino

Patricia Vaccarino is an accomplished writer who has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, essays, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and ten books.

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