It was always burning,
since the world’s been turning.
We didn’t start the fire.
No we didn’t light it,
but we tried to fight it.”
– B. Joel
I want to invent the Chill Pill. It’s a product many need, though not many would want. That means this product would be an utter failure. But still, I want to invent it.
Every time I watch the U.S. news, it seems like the world is falling apart. Reporters don’t say this outright, but they bombard viewers with murder after murder, travesty after travesty, horror after horror. It feels like we live in a dangerous society where death and tragedy is imminent.
I once read a story about a European tourist traveling through the U.S. While at this hotel, he turned on the TV to watch the local news. From the reports, he concluded that the city he was in was full of violence. However, the city he was in was one of the safest in the nation. The media was just doing what it always does – report on sensational deaths and traumatic crimes.
In such an environment, all the extreme emotions don’t surprise me at all. It’s a Chicken Little paradise here. Hypochondriacs are running the asylum.
It’s a fact that we are living in a safer time than ever before. Can you imagine your parents taking you as a kid to a public hanging? Or to participate in a public stoning? Or to watch someone being hung, drawn, and quartered?
There was a time where the men in a family had to carry a sword because raids and rape were common. Pestilence and starvation ravaged entire villages too. Before 1847, doctors didn’t know they should wash their hands after working with dead bodies. Can you imagine delivering a perfectly healthy baby, then to die from puerperal fever yourself? That was a regular occurrence in some hospitals.
Playing violent video games is one thing. Experiencing violence at your doorstep is another. Just ask any child living in a war-torn country or gang-ruled neighborhood.
Despite those current-day examples of violence, the majority of the U.S. populace does not live with such violence or crime every day. Yet, the news media portrays a very different picture. Even in an age of ambivalence towards advertising, people still tend to believe the media.
The Chill PillTM would combat the negative effects of media sensationalism. It would suppress the urge to stay at home for the rest of your life after watching how another family of three died in a car accident on your regular work commute route. Or the urge to avoid life-saving vaccinations after a celebrity claims it caused autism in her son.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, the Chill Pill is not marijuana, medicinal or otherwise. The core effects might be similar, though it would not carry the side effects of potential mental health issues and the munchies. My version of the Chill Pill wouldn’t, at least. Competitors would no doubt sprout.
It would be even better if such a product was not necessary and the news media shifted their reporting structure to a more balanced view. Alternative news sources such as Twitter and positive news sources such as the Good News Network, Happy News, and AOL’s Good News Now are all examples of the positive reporting that the traditional U.S. news media could adopt.
Then there’s Michael Moore’s assertion that the news media in Canada is much more tempered. In his documentary Bowling for Columbine, he features several Canadian news clips. Then he contrasts what he calls a climate of fear in the U.S. media to a more – for lack of a better word – chill climate in Canada.
I haven’t seen enough Canadian TV to verify this personally, though he makes an interesting assertion. If it’s true, the U.S. media has a working model they could easily emulate – our neighbors up north.
Unfortunately, I have a negative outlook on such a future. Perhaps I’m colored by all the negative news too, but I just don’t think these corporations would be able to change their structures. There’s too much company inertia, shareholder concern, operational overhead, and, of course, profits from the current status quo.
I don’t think any investor would read the Chill Pill’s business plan and see a bright future either. “The U.S. news media has created a climate of fear and fostered a sense of pessimism in the U.S. society. The Chill Pill would restore a sense of calmness and positivity and lead to a happier society.”
Yea, not a killer product. I think there’s a need, but not a want. That’s not a recipe for success. But still, sometimes after watching the news, I totally want to invent this.