I think in the US, you feel like you have to keep up with the news. Our nightly ritual was to eat dinner in front of the evening news on TV. There are also multiple sources of information on the internet, so there is no excuse to be uninformed and unaware. That would make you look pretty ignorant and stupid, right?
But, how useful is all that news, really? I recently came across an article – Is There Any Reason to Keep Up with the News? that brings up some very good points. Why do we keep such a close eye on news? What do we get from it?
The news is truth and reality. But, is it? It’s only a narrow version of someone else’s truth and reality and if you believe everything you see and hear, the world is a very bad and dangerous place.
We will have more empathy and compassion. When this was studied it was found that we are able to have empathy and compassion for an individual. But, when it’s about a lot of people, especially far away people from other countries and cultures, it’s more than we can deal with so we tend to just tune out.
We are well informed so we can take action on important issues. How many times have you actually taken an action because you saw something on the news? Chances are if you did, it wasn’t very often and your actions were prompted by your own research, conversations with others, and many other factors beyond what you saw on the news.
In reality, news is mostly entertainment. It’s exciting. There is drama, action, suspense, comedy, and it can usually get your blood pressure up. Sometimes they talk about good things happening but more often it’s disasters, death, destruction, and with the upcoming US elections, politicians behaving badly.
I have cut down on the news a lot over the years, and since coming to Panama I follow almost none of it. As the years go by I have become more and more careful about what I put in my head. I think it all becomes a part of you in some subtle way. If there is something big, someone in my circle of friends and family is sure to mention it. I’ll scan a couple sources for local news (and Spanish practice). Otherwise though, if I feel the need to know about something I can do my own research. Most of the news doesn’t add anything positive to my life and I feel a lot more peaceful without it.
I will continue to vote though. I feel strongly about that. I may not live in the US but I’m still a citizen of that democracy, and what goes on there affects me and mine.