The $180 Billion Investment in Conflict and Hate
We invest ~$180+ billion dollars each year into anger, conflict, and hate. As much as we want to blame Barack Obama or Donald Trump for dividing our country, their respective impact on our societal brokenness pales in comparison to the influence of what I’ll call the ‘Conflict Economy’.
Where does the ~$180 billion come from? That is the amount of money spent on advertising each year.
Advertisers spend on high performing television shows and other media outlets that have a significant number of eyeballs. Unfortunately, these eyeballs tend to be glued to stories of gotchas, failure, brokenness, violence, hate, and ultimately conflict.
$180 billion may be a bit of stretch, since not 100% of media focuses on these topics, but the fact that the fundamental business model of the advertising industry is built upon investing in whatever captures human attention, is frightening.
News shows lead with murders and natural disasters. Sports talk shows generate more interest after a bad loss. These aren’t new phenomenons — however, the comment sections on ESPN.com after the latest national anthem protest, or tweets after every presidential statement are relatively new and relatively devastating.
The anonymous, quick, one-sided, short form, low-researched, and overall prideful responses to events are adding fuel to the fires that were already started by the types of content outlined above that attract attention and ultimately sell ads.
If the money from advertisers allow this content to exist and thrive, is there a way to reverse it? It certainly doesn’t seem like it. In addition to advertising, we have spent over $100 billion dollars in the last 10 years on the mar-tech industry — which is essentially an industry designed to meet people with this content wherever they are, meaning serving content across TV, radio, print, email, mobile app, or smart home. Now ‘Alexa’ can tell you how broken the world is.
Apple invests heavily in developing perhaps the most influential and disruptive technology in the world and it only spent about $10.4 billion on R&D in 2016 — isn’t it kind of scary that we are investing 18x more than this every year into negative disruption? Is it any wonder that we are where we are today?
Things are getting worse at at exponential rate, and unless we attack the way that we consume media, things are not going to get change.
Romans 8:5 says “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
We live in the most prosperous times in human history, but if we are spending $180 billion per year setting people’s minds on the flesh, and starting to better target those minds with an additional $10 billion per year, we are eventually going to have no room for the Spirit to fill our hearts and ultimately heal our broken society.
(please ignore grammatical errors since I am posting on a daily basis)