Since I’ve made the conscious decision to choose knowledge over news, my quality of life has been drastically improved.
I’m no longer constantly exposed to fear mongering, misleading narratives, opinions disguised as facts, and negativity.
Instead, I’m able to spend much more time and energy on bettering myself. There’s not a single day that goes by that I don’t learn something new or somehow improve myself.
Being retired in my early 30s and living in Thailand, as I lay out in 5 Steps To Retire In 5 Years, has left me largely ignorant to US media.
However, I don’t live under a rock.
I still see occasional headlines, much to my chagrin. As an investor in more than 100 different businesses, simply keeping abreast of business updates means I end up getting some news exposure.
And one thing I’ve taken notice of somewhat recently is the fact that a lot of content being pumped out of mainstream media is apparently designed for a singular purpose.
Mainstream media is trying to keep you poor.
I think I’ve always known this. But I’ve been given additional perspective now that I’ve limited my exposure to the news cycle.
Being away from it, no longer immersed in it, gives me a 30,000-foot view.
Seeing the big picture in this way, I’ve concluded that mainstream media is obviously intent on keeping Americans poor.
I’m going to tell you how they’re doing this, why they’re doing it, and how you can avoid this trap.
How Mainstream Media Is Keeping You Poor
Their strategy is quite simple.
Pump out story after story that plays to your victim card. Even if the stories aren’t based on statistical facts.
In fact, it’s better when they’re not based on statistical facts.
Mainstream media wants to make you think you’re a “have not”, while simultaneously bashing the “haves”.
Make you feel poor because everyone else is apparently “poor”.
If everyone is struggling, you must therefore be struggling too.
You already know what I’m talking about.
The endless stories about people drowning in debt. The headlines that demonize capitalism. Criticism of evil “shareholders”. Nonstop coverage of wealth inequality.
Let’s totally forget that when criticizing evil “shareholders”, the mainstream media is actually criticizing the majority of Americans – anyone who buys a fund in their plain vanilla 401(k) from their job is a… drum roll, please… shareholder. Mind. Blown.
If everyone is so poor, and if income doesn’t move up, someone should explain why the the 2017 real median income of family households increased 1.4 percent from 2016 – up to a monstrous to $77,713!
Moreover, the poverty rate in the US for 2017 was 12.3%, down from 12.7% in 2016. That means an even smaller minority of Americans are “poor” now than before.
There is some volatility over shorter periods of time, sure, but real median personal income in the US increases significantly from one generation to the next.
I was born in 1982. Real median personal income back then was around $22,000. It’s now over $31,000, according to FRED. That’s a 40%+ move up just in my lifetime. And I’m not even old. Not yet.
Americans are wealthier than ever. America is richer than almost any civilization to ever exist on the planet. Earning just that $31,000 per year puts you in the top ~1% of the entire world.
Capitalism is evil?
But people have free will. And it’s a free market. Capitalism doesn’t force you to spend your money unwisely. Likewise, it doesn’t force you to save and invest your money. It’s up to you.
You can buy a too-expensive car. You’re free to spend $100,000 on a liberal arts degree. A McMansion doesn’t know or care who’s buying it. Nobody will stop you from lighting money on fire.
But the ability to grow your income and wealth within a free-market system is almost limitless.
If you waste your money on useless crap instead of investing it, you’ll see your wealth gap widen between yourself and those who are smarter with their money. It’s an inevitability. That’s the nature of compounding, folks.
Warren Buffett once said this:
The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.
If I had to add to this, I’d say that capitalism is a device for transferring wealth from those who make unwise choices with money to those who make wise choices with money.
I once made extremely poor choices with my money. I was broke as a result.
Then I started making better choices with money. And I became wealthier and freer as a result.
It’s not rocket science.
There’s no boogeyman out there. It largely comes down to choices and consequences. It’s about personal accountability.
But the media would have you believe otherwise.
They want you to feel like a victim. A poor one, at that.
It’s “the system” keeping your poor. (But mainstream media isn’t part of “the system”. Of course not…)
The boogeyman is taking advantage of you.
Just tune in every hour to hear more about it!
It’s easier and more lucrative to focus on the negativity and play to people’s fears than it is to spread positivity and empower people.
It’s easier to blame others than it is to step up and admit that maybe, just maybe, the person in the mirror is to blame for their troubles.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with all of this is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Say something enough, even if it’s not true, and you run the risk of making it true.
Truth can’t get in the way of a good story. False narratives built on fear-mongering headlines that suck in readers and viewers are preferable to a feel-good story about what’s really going on. Hammer a false narrative home enough, and one starts to wonder what’s truth. Politicians are particularly adept at this.
A hyper-focus on anecdotes, feelings, opinions, and convenient narratives over hard facts is something that is truly wrong with the world.
It’s the same thing with economic recessions. If mainstream media keeps saying a recession is coming, enough people might believe that and actually lead themselves right into one (by lowering spending, reducing investment, etc.). Professor Robert Shiller has talked about this phenomenon, calling it “narrative economics”.
If you tell people enough times that they’re victims, they’ll eventually start to believe it.
And if you start to believe that and want a shoulder to cry on, mainstream media is unsurprisingly all too happy to provide it.
Why Mainstream Media Is Keeping Your Poor
It’s easy to see what they’re doing.
The more difficult thing to figure out might be, why they’re doing it.
But this is also a very simple strategy.
Mainstream media wants to keep you a poor victim so that you continue to need them.
It’s old-school divide and conquer, using hyperbolic propaganda as fuel for the fire.
Pit people against one another. If you’re a “have not”, you need the mainstream media to feed you the narrative and provide you that shoulder to cry on.
It’s all about control.
If everyone were “haves”, the current business model of mainstream media would be far less in demand at best, and it would cease to exist at worst. They’d have no control over people.
Just look at me as an example.
I don’t need mainstream media. Couldn’t care less for it. Don’t watch or read it. The headlines are so blatantly and completely false and tilted toward creating a powerless populace, I’d be silly to pay attention to it.
Paying attention to mainstream media hyperbole would only detract from what I’m doing in my life, by reducing the available resources I have to commit toward self-improvement, wealth building, and knowledge gathering.
I’ve become my best financial, mental, and physical self when I’ve spent the least amount of time consuming mass media.
And that’s exactly the point, people.
If you’re paying mainstream media time and attention, you’re not paying attention and time to that which will actually put you on track for greater success across all aspects of your life.
This is what they want.
Turning everyone into an empowered, wealthy person taking advantage of the free-market system makes for a very limited mainstream media audience.
Who’s going to eat the pile of lies when everyone is exposed to the truth? Who’s going to sit around and give in to fear mongering when they’re too busy building their wealth, doing big things, and enjoying their lives?
How To Avoid This Trap
So if we know what mainstream media is doing, and why they’re doing it, we should make it our mission to avoid this trap.
How do we go about doing this?
Again, it’s a very simple strategy.
Just. Tune. Out.
Ignore it. Ignore the noise. Don’t pay any mind to mainstream media.
Instead, educate yourself. Work hard on your endeavors. Be wise with your time and capital, and take advantage of the incredible system of capitalism. Make it your mission every single day to go to bed smarter, better, richer, and more successful than you woke up.
You won’t have any time for a victim mentality and defeatist attitude when you’re too busy empowering yourself and winning across almost every aspect of life. You certainly won’t feel poor when you’re rich.
There’s plenty of content out there that has nothing to do with the 24/7 news cycle.
Try out some books. Long-form articles from like-minded writers. Research papers. Annual reports. Documentaries.
Anything but tuning into some talking head who’s trying to make you feel poor and helpless.
Look, I’m not saying all mainstream media behaves this way.
I’ll even do interviews with certain outlets when I feel like they’re genuinely trying to push a more balanced narrative.
But the bulk of mainstream outlets are doing exactly what I’m laying out here. They know they’re doing it. And they’re profiting from divisiveness and negativity. Don’t feed into that.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
I know exactly how I like to use that limited time.
It’s up to you what you do with yours.
But I can tell you that if you devote a measurable amount of your resources to tuning into the hyperbolic and negative headlines that mainstream media pumps out, it’s almost certainly going to work against everything that will actually make you a happier, wealthier, freer, smarter, and more successful person.
So tune out mainstream media.
And tune into educating yourself, working hard, taking advantage of your opportunities, building your wealth, and becoming the exact type of person that mainstream media wants to crucify and use as an example for all of their “victims” out there.
What do you think? Is mainstream media trying to keep people poor? Why or why not?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re ready to educate yourself and become wealthier and more successful, check out some fantastic tools and services I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!