Monday, July 21, 2008

The News is Bad For You

I'm going to put something out there and I'm not sure everyone is going to like it. Okay. Ready? Stop watching the news. There. I've said it and its a very important step to living an exciting and enlightened life.

Why stop watching the news? The simple answer is, "it's bad for you." Think about what is on the news: Murders, arson, robberies, etc.. Things you think you need to know about. Actually, you don't.

Lets walk through this together and see if you agree with me. So, you're watching the 10 o' clock news and a story comes on about a murder across town. Or better yet, lets say its in your neck of the woods. What do you do with that information? First, there is a sinking feeling that someone has lost their life. Then a moment of "I need to be careful!" Then onto the next story. So far, its really not affecting you to deeply ... or is it?

In our example, what do you do with that information? Nothing. Nor can you. If you want to know what parts of town to avoid, the news will not tell you, because it reports crimes seemingly at random. Look at but even that is a pretty poor way to see where to go and not to go. So all in all the news doesn't help you in the least. Oh for the weather people out there, go to Yahoo, Google, wherever - weather reports are plentiful. Don't use that as an excuse to let them ding away at your sense of freedom and security.

Now, since the news doesn't help you, lets see how it harms you. A report in Psychology Today found out that our brains were invented before television (big news, right?) BUT, as such, our primal brains see the TV as a window not a delivery system. This means, when they are showing you a crime scene or an arson, your brain (along with the logic centers that tells you this is real and not a movie) informs you that this is a "real and present danger" to you. After all, its right outside "your" window! Really. Its true. This is how your brain works. Want proof? Talk to an old person who sits around watching the news and listen to them tell you how dangerous the world is. Or better yet, watch the news (just for this experiment, mind you) and notice the feelings you get when you see a drive by shooting. Admit it. You think, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

The pure and simple truth is, you can focus on the positive things in this life, or focus on the negative, ie, the news, but not both at the same time. The truth is, unless you are involved in a dangerous occuspation or activity (such as crime) you are not likely to be shot. Even if you are, watching a news story about someone else will not lessen your chances of being shot.

Some might say I'm advocating ignorance. On the contrary. I fully support you being aware of your surrounding, practicing safety at home and on the street, carrying a stun gun or whatever your local laws allow and generally being a very helpful and friendly citizen watch member in your community. The news cannot help you with any of these things. The news will make you scared and defensive toward your fellow men. The news is bad for you.

Now, what do you watch instead? Well, if you need to watch anything, make it entertaining or informative on a positive level. Im not advocating the avoidance of scary movies or action movies. On the contrary, for most people, these are good fun! You know those are fiction, and in fact, many studies claim they get you a good cathartic "scare" that allows your primal brain to exercise its fight or flight functions in a safe and secure environment. Or watch sit coms or ... I dunno ... go out and do something else entirely. All I know is the news is bad.

So, yea, I'm advocating not watching the news. Not only that but tell others about this if you agree. They'll agrue possibly, but in a friendly and cooperative tone, let them know why you think they might lead a happier and better life if they just watched something else.

I do have one caveat to this advice and that's morning shows. Morning shows are great. No murders, no robberies. Just what's going on in the world. That's my two cents on the news.