Friday, October 10, 2008

Media-Induced Depression

I went to the spa today to get a massage due to pain from RSI (repetitive strain injury) from computer overuse. While there, I got an earful from the massage therapist about the economics of the spa business. "This week has been really bad, three people have already cancelled due to the economy, they said they just couldn't afford to come in." The broke callers were booked for the whole day for services, she said, and now they were left with many openings. Good for me, since they got me in quickly, but bad for business. I wonder how much the news and media is affecting people, making them feel sick and depressed about the economy, which in turn, is leading them to stay home and eat macaroni (okay, I just ate cheap pasta out of a box for dinner, but at least I was at the spa helping people earn a living).

Anyway, do you think the news is exacerbating people's depression and fear about the economy? Do you have any examples in your own hometown of similar experiences where people are staying home, bailing out or just plain frightened of what is going on, way beyond what is called for? I really think the media is driving much of the bad news out there. People may be right to be frugal at the moment, but I wonder if Obama wins how long afterward the positive media spin on the economy will take. I recently read that more people are going to therapists over the economy etc. recently. If Obama gets elected, will it be like national Prozac for the media?



Blogger davod said...

One example of media induced depresson is the way the media reports the default rate on home mortgages. You would think the sky is faling in because they always report the percentage change in the nuber of defaults. The never report that actual percentage of default mortgages is about 2.5 percent.

When viewed as 2.5 percent, it makes me wonder why the other 97.5percent of mortgage owners and the taxpayer is on the hook to help the, in the main, reprobates.

6:26 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I'm concerned but not depressed. The marketing research company I work for is dependent on other companies for business. We had to layoff some people a few months after 9/11 but made it through the stock market drop of 2003 just fine. Right now our business is booming.

It raises anxiety some but falling gas prices are helping me personally.

The media seems to have become a bunch of drama queens. Everything is exaggerated to the nth degree with Chicken Littles running everywhere. All the local money manager/investor types I read or listen to on the radio believe everything will be just fine.

7:24 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger LissaKay said...

Yeah, I am pretty much freaking out these days. Not constantly ... I can still enjoy things and have fun, but it sneaks up on me and plunges me into a bad funk every now and then.

But I'm kind of a special case ... for years I struggled as a single mom, always worried about paying bills and buying food. I lived in constant fear of losing my job, which I did far too frequently due to businesses closing, moving or laying off. And all this was during the so-called prosperous years from 1998 to 2006! The last couple of years have been especially bad, but it's been offset by my getting student loans and financial aid while going to school.

Just within the last few months, my life has finally had a major turn-around. My children have launched themselves out of the nest and are self-supporting and doing well. I am going to marry my best friend, who has a steady, comfortable income and is thrilled to share that with me, AND I have just started a very lucrative and secure job - at double my previous salary! Wow, huh?

But with this impending economic crisis which threatens to make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park, my seemingly lucrative income and new partnership with Rich, my fiance, might just be enough to get us through, barely. No home remodel, no travel, no retirement savings, no supporting children as they leave the nest, no spoiling grandchildren ... none of what we were just dreaming about just a few short weeks ago.

So yeah, I'm upset, depressed, frustrated, scared ... and angry as hell at the Democrats that brought most of this on to us all. I worked hard and have been amply blessed to get where I am now, but in a few months, I may again be scrabbling for food and worrying constantly about the future.

7:59 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

" you think the news is exacerbating people's depression and fear about the economy?"

Unfortunately, yes.

The news media are slavering over the prospect of worldwide suffering to "report" to us. They want a Second Great Depression. Economic crashes are like sex crimes: they sell air time and column-inches. Beside that, most "journalists" feel they're insulated against effects on their personal circumstances. Won't people always buy news papers and watch the evening news -- the more so when they need to keep up with the accelerating crash?

If I've made it sound as if "journalists" consider themselves a superior breed and our well-being a matter of purely consumable're right. I'd love to believe otherwise, but the evidence is what it is.

8:06 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger jabrwok said...

I swing back and forth between depression and glee. I worry that I should be stocking up on canned goods, ammo and firearms, and then I think "wow, what a great time to buy stock!"

And a nihilistic little voice just repeats "why so *serious*?".

8:11 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Well, if anyone wants some strong investment advice, buy stock in anti-depressants.

9:15 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Yeah, it's funny how the media and the politicians are saying we are in a major crisis and defamitorily crying "capitalism has failed"...while my bank, Wells Fargo, is strong and solid, and while some gas stations around here (Houston, Tx) are selling gas at $2.95 or $2.99 a gallon. If things were so bad, and gas&oil companies were having a hard time getting capital to invest in future drilling, then, naturally, prices of gas should shoot sky high. So...why's it $2.99??

Could the answer be that the ewspapers and politicians are wrong? Probably...

But they need a "capitalism has's time for the workers of the world to unite -- though power-lusting bureaucrats will do just fine, as long as they are willing to smash the skulls of capitalists and supporters of reason and rights" picture of the world to satiate the hatred of the good, of the productive, and of human life qua rational animal, that Marxism brings.

9:35 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger Murphy said...

Well, Dr. Helen, the media has a reason to report that the economy is doing badly. THEY have been suffering from declining business for quite sometime.

Maybe it's schedenfruede when the rest of the world gets caught in a downturn

11:14 PM, October 10, 2008  
Blogger Casey said...

Michael give an excellent example of the "everyone I know voted for McGovern" mentality. Since his bank is ok, and some of the local gas prices have fallen, stories of a troubled economy must be false.

Mikey, I hate to break it to you, but the banks all over Europe are tanking as well. The Russians just mortgaged Iceland's credit economy for $3 billion. Things are not going well.

I myself consider evidence of recent news "exacerbating people's depression and fear about the economy" to be lacking. Yes, there's a lot of bad news out there, but we need to consider something.

Modern media (a collection of profit-driven enterprises these days) thrive on bad news. It's less a liberal/conservative "thing" than a scandal/bad news/hideous traffic accident "thing." There's an old saying that "if it bleeds, it leads." Bad news sells papers (and magazines), as well as improves the rates radio/TV charge for ads.

Bottom line: no, I don't think (in this case) the media has a measurably negative effect. Most people don't stock up on mac'n'cheese & Krugerrands because TIME magazine and CNN have run scary stories about financial crisis.

11:33 PM, October 10, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad news sells papers, gets TV's turned to news channels, as casey has said.

As did many, I ignored the 1987 "crash". Worked right through it, and made a good amount of money through the end of the 80's and all through the 90's. As stated on another thread, it all got spent (and more) on health issues, but hey, Irish blood.

I had no idea I was doing poorly, earnings wise, until someone told me so. The market has taken a dump. But it is paper. Those of us in the markets do not actually realize it is so, unless we pull our money out and hold its current value in our hands.

6:02 AM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I'm not at all panicked--we're young so our 401ks and other investments will recover. We have a 6 month emergency fund saved up in case of job loss. My husband is the primary bread winner so if he loses his job and I still have mine, we can last for 18 months on savings plus my part time income.

We're not at all concerned about my job. I'm in a rather recession proof field--I conduct layoffs.

But, we're not buying the new furniture we want.

6:39 AM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Casey: Your respons to my comment was rude, presumptuous and condescending.

I presented ideas for discussion; you engage in ad hominem attack.

It is impossible to put everything one knows and believes in a comment to someone else's post, nor is it appropriate. So do not expect me or anyone else to do so.

Before you jump to conclusions about what a person knows and does not know, to keep yourself from looking foolish, ask the person what they know.

Please change your tone and perspective when addressing people -- unless they truly deserve a condescending tone.



10:12 AM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger John Holton said...

"Anyway, do you think the news is exacerbating people's depression and fear about the economy?"

Yeah. This happens every four years. I'm used to it. I know a lot of people with depression (I'm one of them), and they're finding that life looks better when they don't have the talking heads telling them how bad everything is.

I agree with both Michael (who said that the media is making things look worse than they are for political purposes) and Casey (who said that news is a commodity, the worse the better). The all-news channels have close to 8,800 hours to fill and an agenda to push, and if you make the mistake of watching them for too long, you're ready to slit your wrists, since, really, there's not that much happening, so they have to keep repeating things.

I think the point is that you have to concentrate on your own situation and ignore the bad news as much as possible, particularly if you're prone to depression.

2:01 PM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Please excuse my spelling mistakes and person-pronoun clash in my last comment (10-11-08 @ 10:12 AM) -- I was in a rush to get some things done and get to work.

I should have said "response" in my first sentence; "I engaged" in the second; and "ask the person what he knows" in the penultimate paragraph.

I don't like to make such mistakes -- but everyone does, some time or other. We have to deal with it, and be glad that reason is self-correcting.

5:22 PM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger vivictius said...

Dont worry about it, come november 5th the economy will suddeny start looking better (no mater what its doing). Same as back when clinton was elected, it went from the worst economy in 50 years to rainbows and butterflys over night. It works every time because 90% of the people in America are dumber then a box of rocks.

11:35 PM, October 11, 2008  
Blogger Wayne said...

"...this impending economic crisis which threatens to make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park,..."

I'm sorry, but WHAT?!?!?

It would take an enormous amount of work to make the recession we are facing come close to the Great Depression, and that's not very likely to happen. There are too many avenues today for people to earn a living, even if it's not as good a one as they are used to, for the fraction of people to be out of work as were during the Great Depression.

As far as the news goes, they have been trying to convince us for the last 6 years (during which the economy grew by something like 19%) that this is the "worst economy since blahblahblah". It had an effect even then, because polls have been indicating for years that people thought the economy was not doing well, even though unemployment was down and growth was up.

Now they have an actual economic downturn to report, so they are shoving it out there as loudly as they can. Of course it's affecting people. As far as the actual "crisis" is concerned, though, from what I've seen, this is more in the nature of a large correction in the market, because it had been inflated in recent years from the bad investments we all know about now.

Oh, and I'll echo what vivictius said - everything will look at least somewhat better after Nov. 5th, though it will be made to look MUCH better if Obama wins.

12:00 PM, October 12, 2008  
Blogger tomcal said...

evil hr:

Good for you. I wish I had been so responsible when I was of child bearing age.

I mean that seriously, you are the type of person this country needs more of...

9:53 PM, October 12, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...


Thanks! We've worked hard, but we've also been very blessed.

5:50 AM, October 13, 2008  
Blogger flambeaux said...

"It would take an enormous amount of work to make the recession we are facing come close to the Great Depression, and that's not very likely to happen. There are too many avenues today for people to earn a living, even if it's not as good a one as they are used to, for the fraction of people to be out of work as were during the Great Depression."

You know, I admire the optimism around here, but the truth is that we are in for a very rough time. Rest assured that Obama and his democratic congress will be busy making well-intentioned(?) interventions that will make this depression last as long as the depression of the 30's. Add in the simmering animosities from 40 years of welfare dependence and group identity politics and I think you could see significant violence in a year or two once the economy really slows down. Oh the irony that BO is coming into office as a "uniter"...

10:36 AM, October 14, 2008  
Blogger abenavides said...

Well, I think the media should not be telling 'us' the country how we are. I encourage everyone to send emails with a few words to the radio or tv station you listen for news to stop making so much fuzz about the issues. And send a copy to the county representative.

9:04 AM, November 17, 2008  
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