The negative impact of the news

24 May

news

The news is bloody depressing, isn’t it?!  And of course, it’s everywhere.  On my morning commute, I sit wedged between crowds of grey-faced commuters, flicking through their newspapers for some reading material to occupy them for the 40 minutes or so it takes to get to London Victoria.  With the rise in free newspapers, it has become commonplace to see old Metros and Evening Standards strewn about the place, helping to make London look just that little bit greyer (as it obviously needs help in that department).  Often, I find myself perched next to someone reading The Sun or some equally mindless drivel and my morbid curiosity leads me to scan what they are reading.  Perhaps this is a testament to my masochistic tendencies as the tasteless stories and shoddy reporting inevitably serve to depress me.  Recently, however, my aversion to newspapers has gone beyond simply loathing the tabloids.  Even the broadsheets, the supposedly more ‘respected’ newspapers, have started to provoke the same reaction in me and I am very seriously thinking about limiting my exposure to the media in general. But its ubiquity is so great that even through social networking and informal conversations, we are hit by nuggets of negativity.

As a personal development aficionado, I agree with many of the books in this genre that state that the constant barrage of bad news can be significantly detrimental to one’s mental state.  From an evolutionary psychological perspective, we can attribute our penchant for news of dramatic, negative events to the fact that our brains have evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment where anything novel or dramatic had to be attended to immediately for survival. This may be so but surely in 2013 we should have moved beyond this now?! Nowadays it seems that the more sensationalist style in which a story is reported, the more newspaper copies are sold. In our celebrity culture, it sometimes seems that society has reverted back to a more barbaric time.  It seems that the majority of readers love a good bit of gossip and there is nothing better than irrational emotive headlines to stir people up and unite them in their hatred.

I have always found the sadistic pleasure in which people read about tragedies slightly disturbing; however, this is something universal in all of us.  However, I feel that the way news is often reported serves to bring that horrible quality out in all of us, which is incredibly destructive.  Too much exposure to this type of writing distorts your view of the world and alters your perspective, often for the worse, on life in general.  Of course, I don’t mean to say that we should all be oblivious to what is happening in the world and live our lives wrapped up in cotton wool but the news is inclined to report on everything bad or sordid – whatever sells – that is going on, rather than providing a balanced view of the world.  If, as many people do, one only reads or listens to the news, rather than also exploring other avenues of literature, then I am sure the world would look like a very nasty, barren place indeed.

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2 Responses to “The negative impact of the news”

  1. khhsocratica June 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    I got rid of my television (not entirely accurate – I got rid of my cable/network news subscription – I still have a TV to watch DVDs and Netflix) – and now I never see television news. I used to turn it on, mindlessly, every morning. It made my life not a bit better to know the sordid details on a day-to-day basis of all the BAD news in the world. And that was really all they were reporting. I still read a few news articles online each day, but I have found my mornings so much pleasanter. And I can’t say I am a “less informed” person, really.
    We have so few hours in the day to spend reading and listening. Isn’t it better to fill those hours with Dickens and Austen and Homer and Beethoven and Ella Fitzgerald?

    • jadeinlondon June 6, 2013 at 8:28 am #

      Exactly. I wasn’t getting anything positive from listening to the news day in, day out. I would rather spend more of my time getting inspiration from some of the amazing talented people you listed!

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