For the last six weeks I’ve only seen headlines and heard the main points of news stories because being on Holiday I’m not sitting online on the BBC or making small talk with colleagues about the world at large. While I’m aware of the basics I’ve deliberately stayed away from the news as such – and I’ve been happier for it. You’ll have noticed if you look back over the blogs I’ve written this summer that most of them are fairly positive and upbeat compared to the rants before that. Also I’ve only blogged once or twice a day compared to my three or four before that. It’s funny that one of the blogs I wrote earlier this year was about a survey that found people were happier not knowing the news, and I claimed that this avoidance could lead to ignorance – I was wrong, t leads to happiness.
I sat down today to write my blog and thought I’d do something topical and ranty about an issue I felt strongly about but all I found were stories that upset me or brought me down: the on-going tragedy in Egypt; the cyberbullying and suicide of the young lad from Dunfermline; youth and long term unemployment stats; four men/boys of 21, 19, 18 and 16 arrested in connection to the murder of a 57 year old man; Putin’s continued attacks on the LGTB communities in Russia; the sinking of the Ferry in the Philippians and on it goes. I understand that news is rarely good and that if it is it doesn’t make for good ratings, sales or hits on your website. Yes these things have to be published or broadcast but I’m coming round to the Martyn Lewis idea that maybe we should pop a couple of good news stories.
There are arguments that being a news junkie leads to depression, lack of creativity and ultimately tells us things about issues which we cannot have any control over. These now make sense having stepped away from it – but we need to know the basics so we have an awareness of a world outside ourselves and our own social and work groups. That awareness is one thing but there are stories that can drag you down with them like the cyberbullying one which is a tragic loss of life and a nasty manipulation of a young man. Your brain starts thinking about the repercussions and possible effects on society and your own children – and while that is a human response it is largely a futile one because we cannot do anything about the young lad that died and my own kids will grow up as the technology advances and their online issues will be different to current ones.
So why do we open ourselves up to this negativity that the world has to offer – to keep informed and understand the world around us? Possibly but how does it help? Does it help? With 24 hour news, news flashes on social media from news outlets and friends commenting on stories we have a general awareness of these things because they are all around us. Perhaps we need to look at just how important the news is in society and whether we are constantly building it up to be something important when in our day-to-day lives 90% doesn’t matter or have a direct effect on us as individuals.
I know that once I’m back at work I’ll be back in the news loop, but perhaps rather than trying to find the details and full story I’ll settle for the headlines and broad knowledge and maybe I’ll be happier.