S2 E2: The Crisis Cycle

January 22, 2021 @ 6:30 p.m. Livestream via Streamyard to YouTube

The Crisis cycle: what happened, who’s to blame, further investigations, how to talk to your kids — the media-infused Model for our ongoing outrage and disquiet.

Legit, just Google “the crisis cycle” and you’ll get where we’re going with this. Many of us operate at the baseline level for the majority of our day and life. We may have some idea of an event brewing, the potential for conflict. We might be mitigating the impact with preparation. Then the crisis occurs and we have 1) recognition & response: short term, medium-term, and long-term, then 2) the fallout from our own actions — emotional, mental, in our relationships, work et al, then 3) the recovery from crisis and actions — maybe it’s a “new normal.”

When we talk about the media’s crisis cycle, though, we mean that two important factors are contributing to a toxic media environment (read more):

  1. Media companies — be they digital (FB, Insta, Twitter, etc) or traditional (network news, publications, etc) — are fed by advertisers who are buying facetime with viewers. This means the media companies need our attention to make money.
  2. There is a formula for getting and keeping our attention and the media knows it and a lot of us do not — which is why we’re exhausted.

(additional notes on the types of stories media chases — evergreen, seasonal, and timely or breaking)

The media crisis perpetuation cycle looks like this:

  1. Hints, rumors, and implications that could become a thing shared in a casual way
  2. Something adjacent to these hints actually happens so the media covers it
  3. Get responses from people to the event itself
  4. Interpret or explain how the event matters or is important
    1. How to talk to your kids about this
    2. What it’s doing to our (mental, emotional, financial) health
  5. Get responses from people to your analysis
  6. Dig a hint at the next crisis out of that and build it into the next cycle.
  7. Repeat.

And it’s making us sick. Here and here and here we’re told that consistent exposure (i.e. 24-hour news cycles coverage and social media amplification of that coverage) is making us sick.

There’s a word for this, it’s called “doomscrolling” and it means rolling through your social media and news feeds looking for the meanest, dirtiest, doom-and-gloomiest headlines. Do you do this? 

Questions for discussion on this (from this article):

  • Can we blame the media? Is it a broken business model?
  • Why do we do this? — why do we watch horror movies? Ride roller coasters? The thing that scares us also attracts us.
  • Is it biological? — research suggests it’s part of our psyche to identify threats so we can neutralize them.
  • Why is it problematic? — too much negativity can affect your worldview, making you believe the worst is the most
  • How much is too much? — research suggests 2.5 hours is the tipping point between “informed” and “addicted.”

Published by kasiewhitener

Author of After December, host of Write On SC, YouTube channels for both and blogging like it's my job at http://kasiewhitener.com

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