The News: Still Boring After All These Years
When I was just a little lad, I always wondered why it was that adults seemed so fascinated by the news, why they would stare at the screen in a zombified trance and only answer any of my childish queries with a cutting "Shhhhh!" until the commercials had come on (which, granted, was often). I could never figure out what it was that was so incredibly engaging.
The cycle would go something like this: The anchor would bring up a story about something that happened somewhere that was not here, and that didn't affect anyone in the house at all, then my father would say something loud in feverish indignation about the injustice or stupidity of whoever it was that happened to have done something unjust or stupid somewhere else in the world, then my mother would agree with him, then the next story that had nothing to do with our lives personally would come on.
Whenever I asked them why they watched something so tedious, they'd tell me that it was important to know what was going on in the world. This seemed odd because, even in the unlikely case that one of these news-worthy events was about to affect our household, there was almost never any way to control or change it. Most of high blood pressure-inducing stories were so global and relied on so many random things that there really was undeniably nothing we could do about it. The President's going to do whatever he wants, whether you yell at the TV or not, right? You wouldn't know it by watching my father carry on.
(It could be argued that it is only by the populous knowing about certain injustices or key events that change comes about, but I disagree. The people who have the power to change something will know about it, and I don't see the point of giving oneself unnecessary stress and digging oneself an early grave over things that one needn't worry about. If something is important and world-altering enough, one will find out about it eventually without having to see the news. The stuff that's actually important will survive and rise to the surface--most of the news is slush that won't matter tomorrow, anyway.)
I figured that maybe one day I would "get it" and join the ranks of news-addicted adults. I figured it was a rite of passage--that one day, as hard as it was for me to fathom it, I would lose interest in my toys and in having fun, and learn to sit and watch other adults on the screen talk at me about things that I didn't care about. Maybe one day I would learn to not only stress about my own personal life, but to also be so terribly nosy that I would want to hear what was going on with everyone else so I could develop sympathy stress.
The years went by and when I was somewhat older, taking government or politics courses in High School, most of my teachers would stress the importance of being up-to-the-minute informed about all that was going on in places that weren't here. Many of our assignments involved watching the news or watching political debates. I had strong political and ethical beliefs, but they were not at all tied to any specific party or specific movement, so I still found it all to be terribly boring, but figured that maybe one day I could bring myself to care.
As it was, I only cared about patterns--the overall picture--and was bored to tears by having to examine tiny, specific random events that may or may not have had any meaning in the long run. I don't remember what most of those news-related assignments were about, or any of the specific stories. I doubt anyone else remembers them, either. That was yesterday's news, and most of yesterday's news doesn't matter today.
Ignoring the News
These days, even in this "connected society" of sorts where I could find out anything about anything that's going on, as it's happening, minute by minute if I wanted to, I still haven't found it in me to care. I'd rather sit outside and listen to the birds chirp, quite frankly, or to bask in the moonlight if I'm ignoring the 12 o'clock news. I think this is a healthy attitude to have, both mentally and physically. (Speaking of the physical, by the way, my father now has high blood pressure. He still watches the news. His ears turn red when he watches his political opponents speak.)
So my best advice to most people is to just ignore the news. (Or you could just stop watching TV altogether...)
If you must know something about what's going on, take it in a condensed, written form and don't take it every day. Once a week or even once a month is more than enough.
Don't let someone tell you that it's important to "stay informed" all the time in this general sense. That's too vague and ignores that different people have different values, different missions, and different specific things to know about, and that most of the rest of the information out there that is outside this personal scope will be useless to any one given person. What's important to one person might mean nothing to the next. "Important" is what's important to you and nothing more.
So spend less time learning about other people's problems (unless it's your job) and spend more time living with yourself, here, now, in this moment.
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