So a couple of weeks ago we here in the Southeast had a hurricane come for a visit. It was coming up the coast and was taking days to do its thing. Now, from living in a hurricane prone area like we do, I’ve learned NOT to watch The Weather Channel too closely. Yes, every now and again they will give you the actual expected track of a storm, but the rest of the time they’re basically telling you how bad everything is going to be and creating a whole lot of drama and fear. I get it, drama helps pay the bills. (That’s why reality TV is so popular…) But drama and fear are also dangerous. They spread like wildfire and they expand.
So mid week that week I had some downtime, and as I was avoiding “Reality Weather,” I jumped on Facebook to see what everyone was talking about. I found my way to our ‘Island Locals Group’…and it became instantly clear to me that they were watching TWC. They were all a twitter with our impending doom. And it got interesting. There was one woman that was, in my opinion, really trying to post factual information about the storm. She would post a photo of the latest storm track and state her opinion that she didn’t really think it was going to do much and that we’d all be just fine. Yes, we had to hunker down, but it wasn’t going to be HUGE. Here’s the interesting part. When she said that, she got attacked. “Whatever helps you sleep at night!” “Good luck with that!” “You’re crazy, we’re going to have a direct hit!” “You’re irresponsible and putting the rest of us in danger if you don’t evacuate!” And it went on…. It expanded. The people in the group started posting stuff like, “They’re closing the bridges down at noon tomorrow!” “They’ve called for a MANDATORY evacuation of the entire island tomorrow!” “The water is already up to the top of the bridge!” “The power company will be cutting the power off to the island Friday at noon!” And this one, “If you’re staying, authorities are saying to make sure you write your name and address on your arm in permanent marker so they can identify your body.” I kid you not. However, NONE of these things was true. And there was a very easy way to find that out….
So I decided to experiment. I posted and said something like, “Hey guys, if you’re interested in finding the correct info regarding the island, check out our local Channel 8 (run by our town). They’re giving all the necessary info there. Just the facts.” And that was true. That was the very easy way to find out what was really happening. And you know what I got from that post? Crickets. Not one response.
No one wanted the facts.
They wanted to roll around in the drama. They wanted to amp up and expand the fear in that group. And they did. They kept at it all week. Why? I’ll call it the “Woe is Me!” affect.
Drama makes you feel important. Drama makes people pay attention to you.
And, if you’re not important, if no one is paying attention to you, who are you?
The next time you’re surrounded by drama, figure out who you really are. Get the facts. There’s a Group for that too…
(My disclaimer: While the hurricane did do some damage to our island, we, for the most part, were unscathed. Those inland NC did not do so well. Please know I mean no disrespect to these people that are suffering and losing their houses and property to amazing flood waters. I feel deeply for what they’re going through right now….But that’s not what this blog is about.)