“Remind me … to write a popular article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers.”
Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
4 thoughts on “On the compulsive reading of news”
It’s a tough problem though. We live in a world that is very connected, and it’s not exactly smart to simply try to ignore the world. Our actions can have an impact on the world, such as who we elect into government, and the world can have an impact on our own lives. But it’s difficult finding the appropriate balance and avoiding getting too sucked in by frightening and troubling minutia. It doesn’t help that most news media organizations seek to use emotional manipulation for ratings and revenue.
I believe our potential for impact is a lot like the strong nuclear force: very powerful within a tiny radius and exponentially decaying outside of that.
I think Jubal Harshaw has it right. And it’s not just the bias of what gets reported; it’s also the inaccuracy of that reporting.
In my life, there have been perhaps half a dozen times when I was intimately familiar with the details of a situation that got significant media coverage. In every case, without exception, the press got the facts badly wrong — not just failing to provide all of the facts, but making assertions that were simply false. I have to conclude that the chances of getting useful details or nuance from the press are negligible.
I agree with the sentiment. This is not to say that we can remain disconnected with what is happening in the world. However, knowing what’s happening in the world every minute is not going to help. A 15 to 20 minute summary of the news is better than all the “breaking now”, or “live”, etc. of the news media. The need of the hour is deep thinking, and then action that makes a difference. Else, we are doomed to opining from the sidelines and never stepping into the fray t to make a difference on the ground.