In 2004, I read a book that saved me from a miserable life of addiction and dependence. The dark road began when I was in college during the Gulf War. If I can save one person from traveling the difficult road I was on, publicly revealing this will have been worth it.

I was a cable news junkie, totally and completely addicted to 24-hour news on CNN.

I stayed up late and got up early to make sure I didn’t miss anything important. I missed classes. My grades suffered. Although I did graduate, my addiction continued after I got married. My poor wife was aware but didn’t know how to help me.

Then I read “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton, the famed author of Jurassic Park. After I read it, the spell was broken and I was free. In fact, I have been CNN free for over 16 years.

I briefly dabbled in another choice drug called Fox News. But I am happy to report I broke free of that and have been completely clean since 2016.

For all those years, I was under the impression that I would miss something important if I didn’t tune in. I am only half-joking when I say that I was addicted to emergency alerts, breaking stories, and warnings; it turns out brain chemistry is altered, and it is literally addictive.

Crichton broke the spell for me when he pointed out that there are at least three groups of people in this world that have a vested financial interest in keeping the public in a “state of fear,” including the news media, the government, and the “experts” in academia.

Each of these groups modifies the behavior of the public not for our benefit, but rather to suit their purposes. This new understanding allowed me to try to find the underlying and often unasked question of motive.

The news media, now including social media, make tremendous amounts of money the longer they can keep your undivided attention. The more you watch, the more money they make. It is a simple business model, and it works.

Governments and the bureaucrats and politicians that run them have a vested interest in keeping the public in a state of fear because they are able to achieve greater control and greater power if citizens are fearful. 2020 might be the best example of the truth of this premise.

And the “experts” in academia benefit both financially and socially from a nonstop state of public fear because they, too, earn huge amounts of money in their incestuous relationship with government and the news media. Again, 2020 provided the best example I have seen yet in Dr. Anthony Fauci’s rise to prominence.

Michael Crichton exposed the game to me, and I will be forever grateful to him.

Specifically, he pointed out that the words used are fear-inducing: catastrophe, pandemic, crisis, disaster, accident, total deaths, crash, devastation, emergency, fiasco, meltdown, radical, destruction, tragedy, confrontation, alert, warning, dilemma, calamity, and hazard. All have an exclamation mark behind them and are generally accompanied by graphics and warning sounds. All are used for the express purpose of luring you to tune in longer.

To see if I am right, turn on CNN or Fox and time how long it takes before one of these words is used. I just did. Apparently, “pandemic” and “deaths so far today” are now permanently affixed to the screen.

Once the spell was broken, I was never again able to watch the news on TV or, for that matter, read any news article without being on the lookout for fear-inducers. I now (some might say pathologically) question the motives of reporters, our elected officials, and their experts.

My strong recommendation is to read “State of Fear.” Once you become aware of the game, it is impossible to go back to being unaware.

Once you realize your addiction, I hope you are able to become fear free. It changed my life for the better, and I hope it may for you as well.

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Jon Francis

Jon and his family are Eastland County residents.