We are completely saturated with noise. The average American adult spends over 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to, or interacting with media according to a 2018 Nielson study. If you have ever disconnected for at least a few days, then you probably realize how much of an impact media has on your outlook and decision making.
As someone who helps people make financial decisions for a living, I get to see firsthand how common it is for media to influence investing decisions. You would think that seemingly unlimited access to information would help, but with the amount of “fake news” and misleading information, you may just be better off investing from off the grid.
They are motivated to constantly bring up issues in the market or make it seem like urgent decisions need to be made because otherwise there would be no reason to watch. In my opinion, the best investment show would spend the first 30 seconds telling you to stay calm and focus on the long-term, and then have 29.5 minutes of dead airtime and no commercials.
They present primarily stories and narratives as opposed to strictly facts and tend to jump from crisis to crisis because that is what captures attention and keeps people watching. Their expertise and focus are on entertaining and engaging the audience because that is what makes them money. When it comes to good financial advice, they can be way off the mark.
If your feeds look like mine, 90% of the posts come from 5% of your connections and the posts that get shared and commented on are the ones that represent one extreme or the other. Social media does not accurately depict what is happening in real life.
I know completely disconnecting may not be realistic for most people, so here are 3 questions to ask yourself before acting (or reacting) as a result of what you hear in the media.
- Does the person or company have a vested interest in me taking a specific course of action?
- Is this an accurate depiction of real or normal life, or is this a rare, isolated, or extreme event?
- Is this person qualified to give advice?
There are a lot of voices out there communicating information and giving advice. Many of them are helpful, but many of them are biased, narrowly focused, exaggerated, or just incorrect. Be careful who you let influence your decision making and take some time now and then to disconnect and live your life off the grid.