Have you ever noticed the expressions of a newsreader when they talk about finance? In what is such a dry topic they do their best to convey some emotion so that they can convince you to get involved in their article.
If the currency is up then the facial expressions are up with eyebrows raised and shoulders back but if it’s down then the opposite applies with some choice words like ‘disappointing’ and ‘sold off’ thrown in.
When share prices are up the same applies with liberal doses of droopy lips and sagging sentences.
What about how the economy is having a negative effect on the property prices in your suburb?
Whether you like it or not, more and more of your future security is tied up in shares, property, debt and currency and the nightly news can have significant influence on what this means to you and how you react.
How many planes landed safely today?
There is something that all humans love to buy – bad news!
None of us want to admit it, we all say that we want to hear some good news, we all say that we don’t want to hear the bad news but the reality just isn’t the case.
The statistics that a news program displays to you are manipulated to game a reaction from you. A graph that shows a price decline of a chosen market or commodity is only a snapshot of time that best represents the bad news that they want to convey. There is no comparison of a bigger picture to help you feel better, there is no disclaimer to highlight their very limited and specific choice of data.
Nightly news programs give you just the right amount of data to get a reaction from you that’s driven by negative emotion. The reaction that is wanted from you is to make a choice to continue watching. They’re very good at this, current news cycles are a product of a very deliberate and efficient evolution.
It’s hard to see a news program giving actual informative data to help you make better decisions when the only positive-feeling part is when a segment is published showing off how good a certain other TV show is; that related show from the same network of course but, at least it’s upbeat.
I’m being overly critical as I’m well aware that there are times and genuine efforts made to deliver a good news item.
However, when was the last time you watched a news report raving about the hundreds of thousands of planes that landed safely today?
I’m going to guess your answer – none, not one, zero.
Whenever we’re confronted with the words and images of riots and murders on the nightly news it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the state of society.
Listening to the finance report is no different as pictures are painted for us showing just how grim the economy is, how ‘investors’ abandoned the market today and just how many points the market fell by.
I am constantly amazed at how successful the headline ‘the single biggest fall since……’ is. It gets trotted out at every available opportunity and manages to elicit horribly negative emotions that will almost always cause the viewer to voice a reaction about how terrible things are. These headlines sound something like ‘the single biggest one day crash since April’ or ‘….this year’ or ‘…..since the market peak’ which when taken into the context of time means their statements are nothing but verbal diarrohea.
All of this is delivered in a sombre yet forceful tone designed yet again to get you emotionally involved.
There’s never a statement reminding you that this is similar to another event in history or how what is currently happening can be considered normal when taken into the context of time.
Search for some newspaper headlines from 30/50/70 years ago and see if you recognise the words and messages written and you might just see how similar they are.
History repeats, not identically of course, but you get the choice of whether to dwell on the fear and limitations of that repetition or whether you recognise that time passes and take action that can benefit you and your family.
Bad News Sells
A great example of how much we love to devour bad news is the growth of the 24 hours news cycle.
It wasn’t that long ago that news was something we read in the paper in the morning, listened to on the radio in the car and then watched on tv in the evening. News was something that, whilst still negative, delivered its content in manageable chunks.
There’s no mistaking now just how hungry we are for bad news, in fact even when we vow not to pay attention to news for a day or two it’s very difficult to completely remove ourselves from it. News, delivered in a broadband of negativity comes at us on the tv, social media, clickbait, radio, newspapers, email alerts and text messages.
The fact that it’s so prolific points to the profits to be made from distributing it.
Anything that threatens our way of existence, for example those things that could impact our household finance, are absorbed by us in any way that we can get it.
Those areas that have a great impact on our household finances like long term investing, low debt levels and spending awareness just aren’t that interesting on a constant basis.
You can choose what news you buy into, be aware of negative news as it could be important however don’t buy into the unimportant bad news. It doesn’t matter to you.
How you respond
Actions taken by you that are motivated by unimportant bad news are likely to be damaging to your long-term financial health. Switching investments rashly in retirement funds, fixing loans for regrettable terms and buying overpriced assets because of a fear of missing out are all examples where I’ve seen actions erode long-term finances.
There will always be bad news and it’s likely to be delivered to you in an ever-increasing stream that will add to your worry and anxiety.
When confronted with this stream of unimportance, you can control the way you react by delaying the time until you act. Speak to a friend, a mentor, an adviser or someone else you trust before acting. Do a little research on your concern and keep in mind the bigger picture.
Rather than build up an arsenal of fear and worry, take a deep breath, turn off the news and then see what sort of experiences you’d instead rather accumulate in your life.