In my 30 years as a self-improvement coach, the most important insight is that where you put your attention is where your energy goes. If you find that hard to believe, try this: Walk through a crowd. Put your attention on the people. Then walk through the same crowd again and put your attention on the gaps between the people. More of them will now make way. Try it. It never fails. Here’s another experiment: Stand at the corner of any city street and look upwards for a while. You will notice people around you also look upwards. They want to know what you are looking at, and for that brief period you determined the direction of their attention.
If I tell a group of people to think of a red car, there is a great likelihood that all of them will do it. And if I tell them not to think of a red car… they will also think of a red car! They could have chosen to think of a blue mountain instead. From that you realise how easy it is to steer mass attention.
Rarely will anyone form their own thought or choose different than what they are told. In fact, if you do not make decisions and intentions, someone else will do it for you. You know this from your own life: If your spouse asks you where you want to go for dinner and you don’t really have any specific preference, then they will decide where to go. The same applies on a mass-scale.
Due to a general weakness of will and awareness, most people have their reality decided for them, with merely the illusion of choice given – such as being able to choose whether you will pay your taxes by credit card or bank wire.
In school, children do not learn how to think but what to think. They do not learn how to steer attention but instead various things they are supposed to steer attention to.
It is humbling to realise that most people on the planet do not practice focusing, guiding, re-directing, shifting, retrieving and un-sticking their own attention. Thus the life-experience of most of us is determined by external agendas as given by mass media, schools, our parents and countless other sources that have very little to do with our innermost heart’s truth.
We are lucky that at least some of the direction we get from outside is benign. We are lucky if we have parents who say, “You are highly talented, intelligent and beautiful,” thus directing our attention in the right direction. Have you ever heard a newscaster tell you, “You are safe, talented, intelligent, beautiful, empowered and able”? Not hardly. You’ll hear you are the victim of horrible circumstances that you can do nothing about.
Through directing attention, you become a mini-reality-creator. But the mass media is the grand sorcerer of reality manipulation as it directs the attention of millions. It’s not generally understood to what bizarre extent the news media actively participate in the creation of our reality. It is thought they only “report” what is “happening,” but that’s not the case.
The following are different levels of mass-reality-creation by the news media, sorted by the degree of manipulation:
Level 1: Filtering
When I create a movie for my work, I usually choose an outdoor location. I make sure to set up the camera in nature so the scenery looks really good. By choosing what to point the camera at, I am excluding everything I don’t want viewers to see, anything that does not fit my agenda.
I recently filmed breathtaking natural scenery… or at least that’s what it looked like in the final result. I excluded an adjacent parking place, trashcans, roaming dogs, public signs, ugly houses and anything else that disturbed the illusion of me being in paradise. Any filmmaker understands to which extent the filmmaker distorts reality.
From the millions of events that happen every day, the reporter filters which ones to report. This is a normal process. I do it for my own website by presenting only information relevant to its overall topic. People do it on Facebook by presenting themselves in a certain way and excluding pictures that might put them in a bad light.
News media, however, tend to apply several filters. The first one is the filter of negative bias. Why? Because at Earth’s current level of consciousness, fear, drama and hatred still capture more interest than peace, prosperity and harmony. Desperate to sell ad slots on their news program and their declining newspapers, most reports are filtered by how much upheaval and action they contain. In addition, televised news media follows the creed, “if there is no footage (video), it doesn’t matter.” When I was younger I worked for a well-known news station where I was told exactly that. I tried to get the editor to cover important angles of a story, but if there was no footage of it, it was as if it didn’t exist…