The news is very odd when you think about it
Human are creatures of habit. Every day I wake up to music. Every day I eat. And whenever I eat I watch a TV program which is 95% pure misery.
The news is so strange and we’re constantly surrounded by it. Radio, internet, TV. Bong: the world is a merciless ball of hatred and death. Bong: Humans remain a ruthless bunch of bastards hungry for death and destruction. Bong: Why even bother?
Yes, most of the news consists of horror stories and sometimes there are so many that it can be easy to slip into “fuck this planet” mode.
It’s interesting to remember that the order and selection of stories has always been a human process. It has been decided that nasty stories are of greater relevance than the nicer ones because people are way more likely to take interest in potential threats.
Maybe this is a little dark, but whenever a nearby terrorist attack occurs I imagine news studios around the world start bouncing with glee. Terrorism is a guaranteed draw. Time to completely terrify viewers and make them think it could be them tomorrow.
When the Nice truck attack happened I switched straight to BBC News. They were talking to a witness about his experience of the event and the news presenter kept directing the witness to talk in detail about how scared he was. Did you see the truck hitting bodies? Did you go into a blind panic? How loud were the gunshots? The news presenter kept pushing the guy to state how he was caught completely off guard and vulnerable. Then that dream phrase: “It could happen to anyone at any time.”
I’m not going to take the moral high ground here and pretend I switched channels. I was completely swept up in the emotion of it all. What would I do in such a nightmare situation? How might I react? The witness’ account was enthralling.
But the more I watch the news the more I realise that it contains little of use, especially when it comes to the local news. X stabs girlfriend after quarrel. Y punches police officer in the face. So? So it’s an interesting story, and that’s what most news is. The news helps maintain a sense of change in people’s lives.
Sometimes I think, wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of spreading fear all the time, the news offered useful information applicable to everyone’s lives? At the moment I often find myself watching stories and thinking, “So what? I can’t do anything about this.” The NHS is a good example at the moment. Apparently this brilliant system is just falling apart, but all I can do is shrug my shoulders. It’s like someone chaining you down and having you watch as they take your favourite toy/DVD/piece of clothing and have it slowly burned before your eyes.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the news balanced some of the misery with some useful tips and tricks? They could have a segment featuring newly verified science on healthy living for example. I know they do those stories about how bacon/cheese/breathing MAY now cause cancer, but these are often scaremongering stories from inconclusive experiments. How about spreading proven tips on improving and expanding your life instead? I think people might tune in for that.
As I said, I’m not taking the high ground on this and just because a story is disturbing doesn’t mean it’s always irrelevant to my life. Terrorism often leads to new dodgy laws affecting people’s privacy (didn’t hear much about that Snoopers’ Charter on mainstream news though), that dumbass truck driver who killed an entire family because he was texting while driving might lead to harsher penalties, and hopefully one day we’ll hear that all cancers are now officially dead thanks to science (and it had better be the head story, even if there’s a terrorist attack on the same day.)
Ah, the news is the news, isn’t it? Stories, gossip, hyperbole turned to the max. When I was in university I’d go weeks without watching it and I can’t say I missed it. But it’s something to watch, something to bitch about. It can be useful to remember that it’s an exaggeration of reality. The world isn’t really this bad. If it all gets too much, you can always YouTube puppy videos. Go on, you know you want to.