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Warning – Bad News!

“Oh my god, you are going to travel in Central America isn’t that rather dangerous? Aren’t you afraid for your safety?”  This was the most common response when we told friends and family of our plans to spend a year travelling in Central America.

 It is not that any of them had any personal experience in the region – for the most part their fears were based on what they had heard in the media.

TV should come with a warning label especially when it comes to broadcast news…………

 Warning:

 The Surgeon General has determined that watching broadcast news is dangerous to your psychological well-being.

 Watching TV can distort your view of reality and cause negative moods such as anxiety, depression, anger and disgust (especially when watching political coverage).

 Excessive amounts of TV news can seriously distort your view of the world and the people who live on it.

 Use with Caution!

Our reality was after travelling in Central America for almost a year, we never once felt threatened or endangered. We did our homework before travelling, researching specific countries we were travelling to on government websites and better yet talking to people on the ground.

You have to admit with over 7 Billion humans roaming the face of the earth a whole lotta bad stuff is going to happen such as terrorist activity, crime, war, famine, violence, political unrest etc etc….

The problem as I see it, is that news broadcasting appears to be more about “horror movie” style entertainment than impartially reporting what is happening in the world. The news has to compete with everything else that bombards us on a day-to-day basis. Apparently war, chaos and mayhem sells better than the positive things happening in the world.

Another reason not to consume too much of this diet, is that like extra calories, it stays around.  Some people’s impression of a country is based on sensational news they consumed 20 years ago

Yes, there was civil war in Nicaragua 30 years ago!

Yes, Panama was run by a self-serving dictatorship from 1968 to 1989.

Today, these countries are very safe to travel in. In fact, they are rolling out the red carpet for investors (do your homework!) and retirees from other countries. Nevertheless, for some reason the news of 20 years ago still lingers in many people’s minds.

One of the most enjoyable aspects about my first extended period of travel in 1995 was going on a media fast. After only a few weeks of being unplugged from media scaremongering, I found I was much happier actually experiencing the world!

Although unplugged from the media myself, when something important or significant happened, details would be  passed onto me by fellow travellers.  During this year of travel, I was informed of the following major events:

  • More than 5,000 dead in Japanese earthquake
  • Criminal trial of O. J. Simpson opens in California
  • Nerve gas attack in Tokyo subway kills eight and injures thousands.
  • Scores killed as terrorist’s car bomb blows up block-long Oklahoma City federal building
  • Death toll 2,000 in Rwanda massacre
  • Fighting escalates in Bosnia and Croatia
  • U.S. shuttle docks with Russian space station
  • France explodes nuclear device in Pacific; wide protests ensue
  • Los Angeles jury finds O. J. Simpson not guilty of murder charges
  • Quebec narrowly rejects independence from Canada

Did any of these events affect my life directly? Not really.

Was I able, personally, to do anything about these events? No.

Then why would I need to be bombarded by a constant chant of “the sky is falling” hype?

It has been said that no thought or information lives in your head rent-free. The cost of consuming broadcast news is the negative way you feel about the world around you and eventually yourself.

It is up to each individual to carefully choose the information that resides in their head to and to take responsibility for the quality of life they live. The trick is to be aware of the real information not the sensationalized emotionally charged “news”

After visiting over 50 countries, many of them in the third world, I can honestly say “the world is not as scary as the media would have us believe”!

Happy Trails

 

Isla Palenque_-19

About the author: Apparently born under a wandering star, Michael spent hours as a kid poring over maps, atlases and plotting where he wanted to travel when he grew up. Sadly Engineering school got in the way….. “it takes 5 years to complete and a lot longer to get over”. He still considers himself a “recovering” Professional Engineer. He escaped the rat race at 44 and now pursues his passions for travel, photography, Tai chi, scuba diving, cooking and sampling the world’s wines. Michael is also… Fiercely independent, a bit of a rebel, is on a self-imposed media diet & married to an incredible lady.

2 comments… add one
  • Barry

    Michael, I had to chuckle a little at your article. It did however bring a smile to my face as there is a ton of truth in what you are saying. I sometimes think that a big part of “feeling like you have been away and rested” is exactly as you suggest, just getting away from all the media and realizing the world will turn with or without my being aware of all that is happening. Good article!

    • Michael Bauche

      Glad we made you chuckle and smile!

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