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Speculation in the news: Could it be getting worse?

I DON’T think a day goes by where I don’t see some kind of speculative news story. Headlines such as “Could this be the hottest July on record?” and “Could Britain be hit by a deadly Tsunami?” are just some examples of stories that I have spied across the Internet in the past week.

Unsurprisingly the answer, as it is to 99.9% of headlines that are posed as questions, is no, but for some reason people don’t seem capable of stopping to think about the story, it’s just shared on their Facebook page with some inane comment about how concerned they are that we might die from a heat wave/tsunami/whatever else happens to be on their minds that day.

I’m just surprised that more people haven’t cottoned on to this tactic of scaremongering yet. Instead of printing these ‘terrifying’ stories on the front page of their newspaper, media outlets are wording them this way to try and drive traffic to their websites. If I see one more person share an article with a headline that goes something like this: “This man went out to walk his dog. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!” I’m probably going to have to lie down in a darkened room for the rest of my life.

When you think about how many global crises we’ve been through, from bird and swine flu to Ebola, think about how concerned everyone was that we would be next. And what happened? Absolutely nothing. We even had cases of these viruses HERE IN THE UK and the population numbers didn’t even see a dent.

So what’s the point? Why are the media so obsessed with trying to scare us into believing stories that aren’t true? Is it to sell papers and drive traffic to their websites? Probably. Is it because they want to prove that they can control us, like they are the organ grinder and we’re just a worthless bunch of little monkeys? I don’t know.

What I do know is that they’re never going to stop doing it, because it works. So what needs to happen is that we all just need to sit back and relax, and maybe just take a minute before hopping online to yell about how furious we are about the “fact” that 78% of Britons over the age of 65 are going to be wiped out in the coming heatwave. You don’t have to believe everything you read, and you probably shouldn’t, because in all likelihood, it’s total crap.

Maybe it’s because we’re all becoming desensitised. Videos of people being beheaded and pictures of animal abuse regularly do the rounds on social media, so perhaps the news outlets feel like they have to up their game to churn out stories people are going to believe to be true? All I know is that every single time I hear or read a news story, my ‘bullshit’ filter goes into overdrive and I find myself picking holes in it everywhere I can.

Incidentally, if that tsunami thing happens to be true, then I fully admit to being wrong about that one.

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Iona St Joseph

Written by Iona St Joseph

PR exec who likes finding funnies and cool stuff online. Print journalism graduate.

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