Avoid Downright Sensationalism, Embrace Upright Authenticity

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Sensationalism is downright alive and well in the world and some might say taking society to new lows. Masters at sensationalism are Jerry Springer, professional wrestling, and writers of the Weekly World News proven by headlines over the years:

  • Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack As Love Slave
  • Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby
  • Alien Bible Found! They Worship Oprah!
  • Chimp’s Head Put On Human Body

The good thing about sensationalism in these aforementioned examples for most people is knowing that this is “entertainment.” Intense thought is not required to distinguish reality from theatrics. The deceptive part is when sensationalism is integrated with enough reality, people become susceptible to accepting false information and considering it as truth.

Sensationalism can be integrated into academic circles, work, and society in general. Instructors / professors sensationalize knowledge by keeping classes complicated as a form of intellectual bullying. Managers belittle subordinates to maintain control and power. The Titanic is unsinkable, bloodletting cures most illnesses, planes could not be used to reign terror on the biggest city in the U.S., were sincerely wrong societal assurances appearing to be in everyone’s best interest.

A three and a half-minute video on YouTube is a good means of distinguishing the subtleties of downright sensationalism from upright authenticity. The video is based on the popular quote, “Hard work can beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard” and has well over a million views at the time of this article.

The sensationalism begins with the quote being altered leaving out an authenticating word and adding a phrase. “Hard work beats talent – ANYONE can win!” All use of bold and uppercase is part of the video. Only using the first half of the quote, leaving out the word can, and adding an absolute phrase with uppercase, the idea is sensationalized.

An eye-catching photo of a perfectly sculpted muscle-bound dude with hands raised to heaven indicates strength. As the video starts, deep, authoritative voice-overs of quotes flow onscreen with accompanying motivational pictures in the background. The impact of deep voices authoritatively bellowing great quotes lessens as time passes just as a speaker shouting continuously confuses what the emphatic point is that is being made.

The saga continues with an opening quote, “In the end, maybe not every time, but in the end HARD WORK always wins. “Maybe” and “not every time” contradicts “always” every time!

“The one who is HUNGRIER to reach the top will always get there before the talented guy.” Depends what “the top” is and using absolutes is usually an accident waiting to happen. Everyday life is not fair and exemplifies how there are a lot of “hungry” people who don’t always get there (wherever that is), let alone before, the talented guy.

“In the end HEART WINS, COURAGE WINS.” This is good, but in the next breath the speaker exclaims, “In the end, the one who is more dedicated to reach the top WILL WIN.” Again, what is “the top” and dedication might result in a win, but there are no guarantees!

Football coach Urban Meyer makes a point in a podcast interview when discussing what he is trying to instill in the young men he coaches at Ohio State U. The prime directive is NOT to win the national championship and suffice it to say the young men recruited are dedicated. The reason that is not the objective is because what happens if one or two losses occur early in the schedule, does the team just quit?

“If there is no way, I will make my own path” – is a good statement because it is based on personal drive and not a comparison to others. Next statement, “Because your talent doesn’t scare me, it drives me” gets into the danger zone. Another’s talent is not a healthy driver.

“This world is full of stories OF GREATNESS from nothing.” “It is NEVER too late FOR YOU to start your own story.” Both right on!

Oops! “WIN AT ALL COSTS” is a no-no! Lance Armstrong had seven wins of the Tour de France taken away because of illegal substances being used.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Avoid downright sensationalism, embrace upright authenticity.