Should you read the news?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I don't write much about current affairs on this here blog of mine. There are precisely seven posts discussing the events of the day, and of those, two are about hair, two are about the Royal Wedding, and one is about whether an independent Scotland would have a separate Eurovision entry. Hard-hitting stuff.

A couple of people I know and respect, both online and offline, have recently stopped reading all but the occasional story from the mainstream news media. Not because they don't care what happens in the world - far from it - but for personal, thoughtful reasons that make a lot of sense to me.

There are plenty of arguments in favour of being aware of what's going on around us. It helps us to participate fully in society, and expands our understanding of the world we live in. Sometimes a story is more than just a story and compels us to act: to vote in a critical election, or offer aid in times of crisis. The news informs us, educates us, broadens our horizons.

But there's a dark side to news, too. The ill-informed malice spewed forth in comments on news articles. The blatant bias, and - worse - the stealthy pushing of partisan agendas under the cover of respectable impartiality. The obsession with tragedy and horror, the need to report in infinite detail on horrendous events that, really, teach us nothing other than that the world for many is a hard and hostile place, and people can be really bloody awful. Do I need to know that some poor mad woman has murdered her children? Will it do anything other than depress me?

I don't know the answer. What do you think?


P.S. As if to prove that the news isn't all bad, while I was writing this post I found a link to this picture from the Guardian picture desk of a newborn Kirk's dik dik antelope, which is being hand-reared by keepers at Chester Zoo. It is without doubt the most adorable thing you will see all day. You're welcome.


French bulldog by Denise Fiedler

14 boats moored

  1. I got very excited when you popped up a link, I thought 'here is someone else who gave up some of their news reading too!' And then it was me! (Thanks for that.)

    I do know that it helped. It's now about 9 months since I culled my news reading habits and I am better for it.

    Have a cute video: http://gawker.com/little-girls-first-time-walking-on-ice-will-melt-your-1464631286

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fin's thinking of doing it (his bad habit is deliberately reading news stories that he knows will make him angry, weirdo) and I bet others are too - interested to hear what people have to say...

      Delete
    2. Thank you for that video Moz. You have made my life complete!!!

      I don't read the news. I used to get very angry and sad at all the things I read and it just wasn't worth it.

      Delete
  2. I try not to read stuff I know will make me spiral, and not to read the comments. Sadly it means I've temporarily had to mute a colleague on Facebook as though his campaign is one I agree and am supporting I need to do so in a way that does not hurt me. I'm getting better at that, caring, properly caring, but not in a way that leaves me unable to function in any way. I think if the news destroys my ability to do anything other than roll up into a ball rocking slightly terrified of everything then it is not good for me or society.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh this is good. I've had to stop for awhile after the Iraq war broke out as it really was driving me mental. I think if I followed Moz's rules I would be happier, for instance I should never read anything about adoption ever, but their are some things that make me really upset that I feel compelled to pay attention to and spread the word about. We SHOULD be upset about these things (ex climate change, internet surveillance, drone strikes, income inequality, etc.) and I think it is crucial to be aware, to raise awareness, and to have uncomfortable conversations about these things as long as there is the slightest chance that the democratic process can do something about them because otherwise we are complicit through our own willful ignorance, indifference, & inaction. That is how I feel anyway, but I do spend a significant amount of time feeling really fucking anxious about things that I have very little control over and I probably would be a happier person if I were just like "La la la what climate change apocalypse? La la la"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I know. I've really got to tone down the rhetoric. It's just that after Wedding Photographer my next dream job is Propagandist for the (Peaceful) Revolution. If only I could spell and use Illustrator.

      Delete
  4. This rings true for me too. I have wasted many a lunch break getting angry at a comments feed - usually the ones commenting on feminism articles in the guardian - GRRRRR!

    I think there's a fine balance when it comes to accessing the news. The internet enables us to pick sources which reflect what we already think, and this isn't always a good thing. I try to challenge my own opinions and I sometimes find it really interesting to hear from the other (dark?) side. But it can be infuriating too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That antelope looks Smidgen-ish. No wonder it cheered you up.

    On topic: I skip televised news unless there's some sort of immediacy that adds to the story (e.g., the earthquake and tsunami in Japan). Otherwise I've whittled down to a list of US and UK sources that I read erratically, some with confirmation bias and the Economist.

    My tolerance for human cruelty stories vanished when we had children. Vile, vulgar sensationalism intended to increase ad revenues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, ad revenues. I forgot about that part. Another nail in the coffin.

      Delete
  6. I actively limit my news intake, sometimes I feel out if touch but the news so often saddens and angers me and I find the insistence of reporting the minute detail of a disaster distasteful. And don't get me started on 24hr coverage that covers much at all because nothing has actually changed in the last 5 minutes!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a love hate relationship with the news. I would be very much happier, and less worried if I ignored the news, but I think that the desire for understanding what is going on around me is slightly more overwhelming.
    I should probably stop reading stories about things that I know are going to upset or anger me but I think that part of me (my inner 19 year old History and Politics student?) quite likes having my opinions challenged in a nicely distant way where I have time to reflect - as opposed to the friend I have who challenges them in my face in the pub after one too many shandies.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Im the type of person that just collects information, i love knowing and just knowing (which i never blog about funnily enough...) But recently i've started stepping back, because of the comments and even authors of articles, i can not stand naive and bigoted people who think its their job to be ridiculous, i have given up! xE

    ReplyDelete
  9. Something about the last handful of years broke me. I can't even watch humorous "news" ala the Daily Show without feeling like I'm going to hyperventilate. But as you pointed out, it's useful to Be Informed. Basically, I want to know without knowing. You know?

    Sorry, I think I may have to go flap my hands in the corner for a bit after all this talking about talking about the news.

    ReplyDelete

Blog archive