I Have Bad News

THIS IS NOT click bait. This is what I would tell the doctor if such a condition existed.

“How are you today?” they would say to me as I sat down in their office, having waited for nearly an hour.

In my head I think to myself, that, is the stupidest opener I’ve ever heard in the context of a situation. I would then continue thus:

“Well, not great (muttering obviously at the end of it). I have bad news..”

“Well what is it?” they’d say, aware that there are at least fifteen patients waiting for their time after me.

“No, no, you misunderstand. I have bad news!”

Let me explain! Let me enlighten the illuminated! Let me transfer my thoughts without worrying about Bosman rulings.

To be fair I may have misrepresented what this post is about. It is not an earthquake, ground-breaking in subject matter but I feel it is not discussed enough in these modern times. And ‘modern times’ seems like a slightly empty set of words to use, because if I was writing this in 1678 that would be modern times…I digress.

The news: what is it to you? What value does it hold? Humans, being naturally curious, news represents something we need to know – but there lies the trap! – of all the news you have consumed (I personally eat the Independent, keeping me regular so to speak) what news did you actually need?

The fact that the residents of Okinawa in Japan have longer than average lifespans is interesting. The disappearance of a mammalian species seems sad, but quite inconsequential depending on your shit-giving for things other than us. The banking crisis is worrying, but we don’t feel the direct effects for at least months later. But then, there is the stuff that really hits home whether you want it or not. Dogs that maul children. Paedophiles around every corner. Missing peoples. Murders. These are human interest.

But news channels and sources really like to prey on the wider conflicts, stuff that doesn’t necessarily occur or affect you where you live. Islamic State are coming! Ebola is on its way making for the most paranoid plane journeys ever I’d imagine – people with flu getting persecuted. A hurricane just ripped up a billion dollars worth of damage! We’re in a recession!

Irrespective of the news items, from banal click-bait b.s. on Yahoo! to the BBC, the news they report is only news if it effects you, at least that is my interpretation of newsworthy. If an event occurs, technically that is new, therefore news, but lets disregard the semantics – what we are told is news is in fact the most sensationalist, scary, horrific, tragic, deadly, corrupt, brutal, and unusual events to occur in a recent window of time.

Nobody needs this in their lives on a continual basis if they are fortunate enough not to be involved in the bad news. When have you watched the news and switched the TV off with a smile on your face, feeling uplifted? It doesn’t happen.

Websites are equally as bad, even if you don’t set out to find news, it will find you. You have much more choice in terms of content and you can guide your own browsing, but the saturation of news extends to so many areas that escaping the stress inducing effect of news is a tough task.

What led me to post about this topic was partially inspired by Rolf Dobelli’s article in the Guardian that I stumbled on:

“News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether”

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli?CMP=share_btn_tw

The article is one of the most honest intelligent assessments of the harmful effects of news I have ever read, with no exaggeration. I will hand pick a few of the most salient points.

Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

So, even if you do watch/ listen/ read news that is relevant somehow, chances are you won’t even process it in a way that would be beneficial.

“Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books.”

The above point may not be scientifically proven (yet) but I have experienced this effect of inattentiveness. I’m sure it is widespread. If I play Xbox games, I don’t want to read books. If I watch films or browse the internet a lot, I lose interest in reading. This saddens me.

I didn’t want this post to get too essay like but that is how this puppy evolved.

In conclusion our minds are being bombarded with fragments and shards of stories which tend never to involve us or even people we know and care for. We never feel the actual shrapnel, but we are expected to experience it like we are the ones being reported on: often this means we feel biological changes consciously or otherwise through fear etc.

News permeates daily interactions, it is part of life, but that kind of news is personal, relevant, if not gossip, and has value in that it has some influence on your personal sphere – shape is optional! As Dobelli states if you consume news even periodically (puntentional) then it can easily add up to an hour of your day.

I’ll finish by saying that I’m not averse to news, I love finding out new things, but various atrocities are not something I need to know about or have shoved down my optical nerves daily. I’m not advocating ignorance through abstinence, simply a reductionist approach to finding things out. And with that I will continue my media blackout which I started several days ago – join me if you dare! – because frankly, I’m not sure how relevant One Direction is in the grand scheme of things.

 *I am also aware of the irony of this post, as it is in itself news.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been told off for ‘never knowing what’s happening’ because I don’t check the news very much… And in a sense, I do wish I could read the news and not come out of it feeling depressed, but it doesn’t work well for me. I also don’t like saying that I only care about the news that affect me, because real things are affecting other people. I just don’t know how to digest them, or learn from them, so it ends up being paralysing more than anything else.
    Also, this article I read recently came to mind: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/30/david-mitchell-protect-yourself-counter-terrorism

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