Avoid the news.

Friday May 31, 2013

We live in a culture obsessed by news. But is it really good for us to be constantly exposed to world news 24/7?

Studies show that it's generally not a great idea, which isn't really surprising when you think about it.

Mankind spent many, many more years (thousands of them) living in small communities of a few hundred at the most, receiving news from a geographical area with a radius of, say, five to ten miles. That's the level of news we are designed to cope with. When an event occurs the news is immediate and we can respond in a meaningful manner.

When terrible things happen on the other side of the world, we generally feel powerless. We may be able to contribute funds to help, but we can't really do anything. It's not a particularly positive place to be.

The feeling is even more acute if we are exposed to visual content. For the past couple of years I have made a point of avoiding the news if I can and never watching it on TV. If something important happens, I reason, someone will let me know. But the last time a neighbour rushed round with a "have you heard…?" it was regarding a neighbour who had broken her leg. Now that was something I could take action on. I could visit and take her flowers. I could offer to help.

We need to take responsibility for our wellbeing, and often, being well-informed is counterproductive to that wellbeing. Is the price too high to pay?

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