How the news is destroying us
I used to be an avid news follower - but after 2016 I just couldn't take it anymore and, surprise surprise, I'm much better mentally. I don't talk politics anymore(especially not on social media) to anyone other than my significant other and a few good friends. There is much more to life than 24/7 news cycles. Thanks for this piece, Matt. Have a great day!
Asking why the media (digital and social and cable) make us angry is like asking why fast food is fatty, salty and sweet. They sell more of it when they push the buttons embedded in our nature.
I needed a re-set. I’ve served my time and should know by now that it’s become a news whirlpool that can literally drown you in a morass of bad feelings. Enough with that. Remember. Easy does it…
Matt. I think you should become a religion. Or a movement. Or write a creed for a lawn flag. Something like: "In this house we don't believe in, fox or cnn three hours a day, term limits, an absolute right to abortion or guns, Alec Baldwin Ted Nugent"....you get the idea.
Fantastic insight into where we are. The great thing, as I tell my students, is that each of us has the ability to fight for our minds. When we take a step back from the edge and look around we can see so much beauty surrounding us. If you get a moment check out Teach to Unite, a project that I started with my former students: https://teachtounite.substack.com/p/choosing-hope?s=r
My probably idiosyncratic view is that we’re spoiled. Never mind the simplistic solution “if you don’t like the news, make some of your own;” there’s the more profound question of why we think we’re entitled to a world in which what we read and hear is completely anodyne. Since we’re pretty sure to be disappointed with a lot that is said and done, anger seems like self-indulgence. If one feels overwhelmed, back away:
“To make an interior act of renunciation and become a stranger in the world; to watch one’s fellow countrymen as one used to watch foreigners, curious off their habits, patient of their absurdities, indifferent to their animosities—that is the secret of happiness in the century of the common man.”
—From the diary of Evelyn Waugh, March 26, 1961
A problem as old as the "news" itself.
As the 12th century philosopher Maimonides (most famous for his words "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.") wisely noted:
"Men frequently think that the evils in the world are more numerous than the good things; many sayings and songs of the nations dwell on this idea. ...Not only common people make this mistake, but even many who think they are wise."
Thanks for a great piece! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Robert Heinlein:
"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. The title is 'Gossip Unlimited' — no, make that 'Gossip Gone Wild.'"
And to think he wrote that in 1961! I couldn't imagine what he'd think of our current predicament. I think we'd all be much better off without 24/7 cable news (to say nothing of Twitter et al).
Thanks for a lovely piece. What was the old song— blow up your tv and eat a few peaches. Peaches are ripe and delicious right now.
Thank you. I spent all morning and part of the afternoon trying to talk my husband down from a white-hot rage about gas prices and “greedy oil company executives”, somehow culminating in “why do I even bother to vote!” All fueled by reading the online news on what should have been a beautiful Sunday. I get angry too, believe me, but for my own sanity, I’ve learned to walk outside, breathe the air, look at the forest surrounding our house (we’re blessed to live near Taos, New Mexico), and do my best to maintain my equilibrium. Okay, curmudgeon rant (I’m 61): we as a country were better off when we could only watch the network TV news once a day in the evening and read a printed newspaper once a day in the morning. It let us keep the news in perspective to the vast majority of the rest of our daily lives, instead of constantly threatening to overwhelm us through our phones, tablets, and laptops. I’m tired of being angry all the time.
Great post. You and so many of your readers know what’s important in life. If only we could pry some people away from the hate merchants. I’ve never seen them make a life better, but I’ve seen them ruin a few.
Beautiful finish to an unsettling piece! Thanks again for what you do.
Wow! I was returning to NJ for summer vacation from Florida ( no it's not an oxymoron) and went the long way to see some friends in Toledo.Myhome there sat on the Maumee and I fell in love with it !Had a chance to spend some time sitting by the River - the 600 mile detour was worth every gallon of premium gas !! It was simply transforming.
Thanks for the great reminder for those of us who do get overwhelmed as news junkies.
I cut-and-pasted your last paragraph and the following quote from Nelson Bryant into my Evernote app. I will read often and pass the advice to my adult children and my three granddaughters PRN. Thanks once again, Matt.
Few better than Isbell.....in my mind he picked up where Prine (RIP) left off.
I have never been an anger junky. Just wasn't ever in my nature. I think it is an immature emotion and I do my damnedest to act like an adult (at 63). In my opinion, everything springs from either fear or love/joy. I choose the latter.
Oh, and, nature is the gift that keeps on giving.
Music and Beer (in moderation) don't hurt either.