I stumbled across this summary by Rolf Dobelli of his thoughts on why 'the news' is bad for us, ironically, whilst catching up on dreadful events unfolding an ocean away in Boston. Dreadful events that I have no personal connection to and can do absolutely nothing to alleviate, yet felt enough of a mix of compassion (good) and morbid intellectual curiosity (not good) towards that I was reading a live blog about it.
An awareness of world events is useful up to a point; and once upon a time that would have meant a morning newspaper of yesterday's news and a 10 minute evening radio bulletin. Now we have 24 hour news channels, online newspapers updated every minute and a plethora of DIY media where anyone can put their experience out there (including me). And sometimes, this is a force for good. Mostly, we don't see the wood for the trees.
Whilst I disagree with many of his assertions, I can't disagree with the thrust of Dobelli's article regarding 'the news' . We haven't had regular access to TV news for several years now - and when I do find myself watching it, I find it overwhelming. Too much graphic detail, so much negativity. Horrible things happen every single day and humans can be complete shits to each other. But I also know that good things happen, every second of everyday, and humans can be awesome. That experience is not reflected back to me in the news. In the wake of Boston, the speculation surrounding the mechanics, the motives and dynamics of the plot and plotters far outweigh the coverage of the people that came together to help. This stuff is bad for our mental heath.
The day we realised the TV aerial on our new house was not wired in changed our lives. We watch less news and instead of mindless channel surfing we watch a handful of shows and films on DVD. We get to choose where we focus our attention - even if I do occasionally get sidetracked by live blogs. I have more time to be a productive kind human. I am taking a break from my remaining news outlets - one week, cold turkey, no 'news'. I have done it before and after a few false starts (it is an almost automatic reaction to check a news website in the morning with my coffee). I suspect that I might enjoy it more this time and extend it for a little longer.
Happily, this gives me more reading time to devote to my favourite blogs - the majority of which catalogue human adventures in trying to be productive and kind human beings. Keep them coming please :)