We choose to consume bad news, and then we complain about it. Bad news has always been there, what;’s changed is that we are now fed a daily diet which is, without doubt, psychologically harmful. But, you can take precaustions.
A few minutes ago some nice people came to my door. They told me that they wanted to share some good news with me. I’m generally up for that, but in this case I had started this post a few minutes earlier and want to get back to my writing.
I excused myself, and wished them well, saying that I hoped the rest of their day would be filled with people who are more receptive than I had been. Then it occurred to me that they might be messengers, sent to me at precisely the right moment. It was certainly ‘coincidental’ that they should choose that particular moment to call.
Having declined to have a conversation along the lines they had intended, and since I was already working on the same theme, I launched into a sermon entitled ‘Don’t listen to the news because it does your head in’ (working title). And we had a lovely conversation.
And the point is…?
We live in an age of plenty, but as I’ve written before, more is not necessarily better (see Muzak to My Ears). We tend to think of over-consumption being related to a plague of material things, including food and drink. But the same is true of information. Over-consumption of news is a bad thing for our health and welfare.
I first learned about this while reading Emile Coué (1857-1926), the French pharmacist and psychologist who developed auto-suggestion as a means of healing and self-improvement. If I remember correctly, he said that we should protect our children form the news by preventing them from reading newspapers (the only medium during most of his his lifetime).
Creatures of habit
As adults we’d do well to heed the advice for ourselves. If the news is important enough you’ll get to hear about it anyway, there’s certainly no need to over-consume it by looking and listening out for it. Remove bad news from your diet and feel the difference.
It’s always struck me as a daft habit to watch the late night news just before we go to bed. We wish for sweet dreams but fill our minds with the acrid ingredients of humankind at its worst. On TV they tell us in advance that the images might disturb us, yet there’s no comparable health warning for the content in general. ‘Consume in moderation’ would be good advice, and ‘never before retiring for the night’, could be added.
Some months ago I bookmarked an article about this, there’s a link below. The writer is far less circumspect in presenting their views of how harmful the news is for us. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether, they say.