“Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you —“
Emotionally triggering headlines are standard in modern news media.
Headlines like this are designed to make you feel the way you do, right now.
The media companies know that emotionally-triggered people are far more likely to take the click-bait and spread it, making them more money in the process.
But you don’t have to be a pawn in their game.
You know what’s worse than someone taking your hard-earned money? It’s the feeling you get when you realize you’ve been duped. By giving yourself time and space to let your brain process information, you will be able to make better decisions and react more appropriately.
Our brains think in one of two ways – one logical, one emotional.
The emotional path is through the amygdala and it is built for speed. It is the part that reacts when a snake surprises you and you need to move quickly.
The logical side runs through the prefrontal cortex and it is built for processing power, but it takes a few seconds longer to comprehend a given situation.
They are both equally useful, however they are useful in different circumstances.
This means that when your brain responds to a stimulus – whether it be a tiger jumping at you or a disturbing news headline – your emotional side fires off first. These leaves your logical side trying to play catch-up.
The simple answer to not being duped is to take a breath.
Before coming to a conclusion or making a decision about what a headline may mean, give your brain the time and space to comprehend the information in a logical way.
The brain chemicals produced by your amygdala from any given stress response take approximately 6 seconds to dissipate. SIX SECONDS. That means that if you take that deep breath, then think through what you read again, you may find yourself coming to a different conclusion.
Let’s try taking that breath now, and unpack this headline to give our logical brains a chance to understand what is being said.
The first part we see is the word ‘Democrats’ . This communicates a clear divide between Democrats and the reader.
Next, we read ‘army of 87,000 IRS agents‘ which is a vague reference to a large, force of people. The word “army” can imply that the force is armed and potentially hostile to the reader.
Finally, we focus on ‘coming for you‘. This phrase uses highly directed and threatening language to further hijack your emotional brain. When reading this part, you can almost feel the author point a finger and saying “you”.
Just 6 seconds and you’ve taken power back from the alarmist headline.
Now that we have effectively dissected this headline, we are in a better position to ask follow-up questions.
Questions are so important, that I’ll be making a second post in this series about them. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, if you want to learn how to unpack the news in your inbox everyday, check out EverydaySpy’s Special Report.