I’ll let you in to a secret; I haven’t watched the News or read a Paper in as long as I can remember. I have already shared here, that we are nearly a year in to being a TV free household. You are possibly just about despairing of me- surely it’s only a matter of time before I pack up and move to a Yurt (alla Lula-if you don’t watch her youtube channel you should she is fab). So why the Media blackout? Do I not even care? Maybe I am sticking my head in the sand?
Do I NEED the News?
I heard a Lady speak publicly recently, about how she was criticised for the admission on her social media channel, that she didn’t watch the News. She had been labeled as ignorant, and it had been implied she was perhaps uncaring, or unintelligent. This criticism led her to religiously watching the News every night. But does watching the News mean you’re all of a sudden educated, empathic and going to save the World?
A Friend of mine frequently expresses exasperation and frustration at a Family member who doesn’t read the Newspapers, to her it is a truly terrible thing, and something to be ashamed of.
Another example is how I used to rant and rave at how frustrating I found parts of Australia for similar reasons. There could be a a major World event, and yet it would often barely make the News. National papers were very egocentric, rarely mentioning anything on the front page beyond their own shores, and local chat invariable revolved about local issues. I found it equally baffling and infuriating; when there were tragedies across the globe and no one seemed to know, nor care. And would often share this rant with other Brits I encountered over there; that people lived in a little bubble.
However, having moved back to the UK, the land of possibly even more offensive right wing Press, I have begun to change my tune. Perhaps if you live tens of thousands of miles from an event, worrying helplessly about it day and night, rather than addressing the issues in your home town, which you can more readily support-makes a lot more sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely applaud those people who give up their comfortable lives to cross the globe to support those in war torn regions. I regularly donate to Charities in places that I may well never go, and to people I will never meet. Please do not mistake my Media backlash as uncaring. I truly care, and I do not believe I am just sticking my head in the sand. But you are entitled to disagree.
Here are the nine reasons I chose to avoid Newspapers & TV News:
- I recently quotes Mother Theresa in a post; when asked how to created more peace in the world, Mother Theresa replied; go home and love your Children. As the saying goes, charity begins at home. I think it is sometimes very easy to get caught up in issues far away and ignore those on our own Street. We absolutely have a global responsibility, it’s purely a twist of fate I was born in a wealth country into a home of security and someone else wasn’t. But that doesn’t take away from the powerful good we can do in our own Communities. Little acts of kindness in our own little Worlds can create big change.
- I used to be very aware of ‘Current Events’, but is awareness worth anything if not accompanied by action? Are we instead guilty of ‘tragedy porn’? Slowing down to get a better look at the car crash on the other side of the Motorway. I used to argue; ‘we owe it to these people to be aware of whats happening to them’. But I would imagine in the vast number of cases, if we speak with the Mother in the War torn village, the starving Child, and let them know that there are lots of people across the world who know what’s happening, and think its very bad…but are not actually doing anything. Well, I am not sure how much reassurance that might offer.
- Does the Media desensitise us to tragedy? Do we have such an influx of horror on a daily basis that human suffering doesn’t affect us in the way it may have in the past?
- I think a lot of us have been brought up with the idea that the Media somehow know more that us, or speak with great authority. Sure they might have the audience, the podium, and circulation, so of course with that comes influence and power. But I think it was only truly for me once I got to an age where I knew people working in Media, that I realised they are just PEOPLE. And quite often people not necessarily the most Worldly. They have their own agenda (be that good or bag), and at time that agenda is to sell papers via a salacious headline, insight fear to promote a Political result, or just keep their job by producing whatever their Boss has requested). There is a huge difference between commentary and fact, yet I think the line gets blurred. I have touched on here, my views on ‘experts’ when it comes to babies, about the power of selecting your sources, and the same applies. Do not be fooled that the paper you read is a neutral unbiased source of fact.
- Who choses whats News anyway? Even what the papers and TV shows opt to highlight massively controls what is in my consciousness. It’s incredible how frequently one act of ‘terror’ won’t be reported because of who the victims were or where in the World it occurred. Or when one of the Countries best sellers decides the leader of this Countries’ legs are more worth of coverage than what she’s discussing?
- There are times when I feel particularly anxious, that I feel I need to shelter myself from the onslaught of doom. Some days, the horror in this world feels too much, so feeding that anxiety with stories which reenforce that fear is neither healthy nor productive. I feel that i am taking responsibility for my own wellbeing by option out of the circus.
- I am not going to tell you that twitter and Facebook are far more trustworthy that the National news, they certainly have their fair share of ‘alternative facts’, but with information as readily available as it is today. i prefer to pick and choose my sources, and read direct accounts, over editorial commentary. Opting out of Mainstream Media does not mean I am sticking my head in the sand, nor leaving me uninformed. In fact I believe I am possibly more aware or certain situations because I have read from a broader and more balanced source of information..
- There is so much good in this world, and yet invariable the mainstream media focus’ on the bad, the evil, the scary. I know the world sadly isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, but seeking out those stories of human kindness, those miraculous medical recoveries, those joyous moments, they are just as valid, even if they have not made the headlines.
- It damages our Kids. There was lots of conjecture after the events of last weeks terror attacks (I wrote here about my feelings) about how much should or shouldn’t we be telling our children. And I feel that is the decision for each Family to reach themselves. But the newspapers flash scary headlines from the shelves right next to the Cbeebies mags, the news throws out statistics we might not be ready for our babies to hear. I know we cannot shelter them for ever, but I feel it ought to be our role to decide whats age appropriate and when and how we explain these big concepts.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and how you manage your families intake of Mainstream Media, and how you feel it impacts your life.