I know. I know. Maybe I shouldn’t have said it out loud. At least, not is a place like this. But somebody has to say it so here I am. Don’t consume Sri Lankan news. It’s ruining your life!
Now don’t scroll to the comments and start blaming me, my dog, and my dog’s mom without reading the entire post. First, hear my argument. Then you can do whatever you want.
To build my case, first, you need to know how the news industry works.
How does it work?
How does a TV channel, a newspaper or anyone who publishes news makes money? They make money from advertisers. If they have more advertisers, they make more money. So what do advertisers want? They want more viewers. More eyeballs to watch how a toilet should be cleaned or what cream moisturizes your face.
With so many TV channels, newspapers and other media, there is heavy competition in the news industry. Everybody’s fighting against each other to get more viewers for their news. So eventually (because of the economics of how the industry works) their objective becomes getting more viewers rather than putting out valuable information to the public.
So there is an inherent problem in the industry (unless news publishers are not aiming to make any money or not owned by people with ulterior motives).
They are motivated to get more viewers. If not, they will eventually lose the competition for the battle of advertising money.
This leads to the next problem.
What do they publish get more views?
Recently a TV news channel reported an incident where a policewoman has bitten another policewoman in a fight. Is it something important that the entire country should know about? Seriously? Don’t they have anything else to talk about?
Humans in their nature are drawn to negative stuff. It’s called the negativity bias. If you’re wondering why we’re drawn to negative stuff; the answer lies in human evolution.
When your great great great great grandfather was hunting for deer in the jungle, he always had to keep an eye for the hungry lion that can kill him. So our brain is wired for survival and survival mostly depends on how aware we are about external threats.
News “generators” know this. That’s why they fill their news with disaster, corruption, incompetence, violence. After all, who wants to read about slow improvements when there is a sudden disaster? Or murder? Or riots? Or strikes? The more negative news lead to more views. More views lead to more money.
I wouldn’t be doing justice if I at least didn’t say a bit about political news. Have you seen lately what politicians are saying? One is mocking someone for saying something stupid 2 years ago. One party is blaming another party for their policies. Everybody is so confident about how superior their ‘ways’ than the ones in the rule. They say they’re not going to stop their “fight”? What fight is that? Where is this fight happening other than on your TV screen?
They keep mocking and saying stupid things to each other and you keep watching them, mouth open and not knowing what curries you had on your plate! Next day you go to the office and argue about who’s right and who’s wrong with your friend who’s supporting the other party; mouth open, not knowing what you had in your lunch!
Politicians think that they can say anything and as the public, our job is to listen to that sh*t. They go on talking and we are supposed to listen to their rants. News outlets add salt and pepper to what they say and the entire country has to watch this. How dare they do that to our attention? Don’t we have better things to watch in news?
We get to consume this negative news and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
What’s so bad about news?
Now you’re aware that our news is filled mostly with negative news. So what happens when you consume negative news?
You feel like the world is doomed. You feel like everything is headed for disaster. Our country is falling apart. The crime rate is increasing. A woman can’t walk alone on the road. Your child’s future is darker than you think. Will there be an ethnic war? What about the drug dealers? Will your son be a drug addict? Now, WAIT a second there! Listen to yourself!
What happens if you put yourself in a negative environment? Imagine if you get to work with a bunch of losers who do nothing but talk about how sad and miserable their lives are. You’ll eventually become negative right? But you do this every day with news, without even realizing it. You consume so much negative news in a day. No wonder you feel angry, hurt and miserable every day after reading your newspaper.
For you to be happy in life, you need hope. You need to feel hopeful about a brighter future. You need to feel that you’re doing something for a better tomorrow. That’s the secret to a happier life. But when you consume negative news, you feel hopeless. Why? Because you really can’t do anything about what’s happening. Could you have saved all those people that died from that car accident? Nope. So you feel hopeless and miserable. And that’s not helping you to live a happier life.
What if the world is actually going to a bad place?
If you’re in this camp, you need to check the stats. Is there an ongoing war in Sri Lanka? Nope. What about the crime rate? I just checked it and they have decreased over the past years. I know it’s hard to fathom because of all the negative stuff that you see on media but the world is actually going to a better place.
In fact, you’re currently living in the best time the world has ever been. Period. If you’re not so sure, read Factfulness. What we tend to believe and what’s actually going on is far different.
Because of the availability of news at your fingertips, we have more exposure to negative news than we have ever had before. So we feel like the world is crumbling down when the actual problem is we are more aware of things than the past. The same things would have happened before but we just didn’t have a way to know about them.
Because that’s not the way the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, because then you’re watching television, you’re watching the news, you’re being pumped full of fear, there’s floods, there’s AIDS, there’s murder, cut to commercial, buy the Acura, buy the Colgate, if you have bad breath they’re not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl’s not going to fuck you, and it’s just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that’s what I think it’s all based on, the whole idea of ‘keep everyone afraid, and they’ll consume.’ – Marilyn Manson (American Rock Artist)
So what now?
I don’t consume news. I don’t read newspapers offline or online. I don’t watch news on TV. So what has changed in my life? A lot.
I don’t worry about many things that others worry. I’m happier because I don’t listen to all the accidents, the murders, the rapes or the political “fights” happened every day. And since my mind is not occupied with negative stuff that I really have no control of, I get to focus on the things that I can do to make this world a better place. Like writing this post.
Now like most things in life, either you get this or don’t. If you feel like you have a civic duty to know what’s happening in the world, be my guest and make your life miserable. But if you’re at least willing to try a news diet, the following is an action plan.
7 day trial
You don’t have to give up consuming news for eternity. Just try it for 7 days. See if you will starve to death without knowing what’s happening around the world. Make sure not to consume any news piece whatsoever. No TV, no newspapers, no browsing online.
After 7 days you will realize that you haven’t missed anything important. It’s just the Fear of missing out (FOMO). Then hopefully you’ll continue your news diet, for eternity.
But what if there is a petrol strike or something? How would I know that? Trust me. If it’s worthwhile news, someone somewhere will eventually tell you. That’s how the world works. There will always be that person who will know what’s going around and when something important comes up, like a zombie attack in your office, you’ll know.
Once you start your news diet, you will start feeling hopeful again. You’ll realize that world is actually good. Of course, there’s going to be crimes, accidents, and political drama. But they will not consume your piece of mind.
For all the nonbelievers who are not satisfied with my opinion, check out the below posts. After reading those, if you’re still not convinced and feel a dire need to consume news, I wish you good luck.
For everyone else who’s willing to give a try to a news diet, I promise you. Your life will be better. Do something today that your future self will thank you. I know I’m thanking little Nishan right now for making that decision.
News is bad for you and giving up reading it will make you happier (The Guardian) – News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether
What do you think about this post? If you liked or hated it, add a comment and let me know. If you loved it, share it with someone who will benefit from this. You can click any share button in this post to share it. Help me to spread the message.
Disclaimer: The intention of the writer is not to put the news industry in jeopardy. The writer does not intend that all news outlets are bad. There can be some good ones too. The writer is thankful for all the good ones and hopes the rest will be good too.
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