Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Published 11:45 PM by with 6 comments

Should We Stop Reading the News?

News headlines have been screaming. The Boston marathon bombings are another heavy tragedy in the wake of other recent national calamities. My heart aches.

But the gory, horrendous photos of the incident found on the front pages of newspapers and emerging online make me sick. What is the purpose of displaying blood and terror, especially where children can see it? I remember, as a child, catching glimpses of awful events happening, like the Oklahoma city bombing, the terrorist attacks on the world trade centers... these things shook me for months, even years. Although my parents reassured me that I was loved, cared for, and kept as safe as possible from harm, fear still wound its way through my thoughts.

It seems like all news features are turning into sensationalism. Yet I feel guilty if I don't read the news. It makes me feel like I don't care what happens in or to the world.

The worst part is knowing that I can't do much to change the outcome.

As I got older, I turned to prayer as a way to channel my worries, fear, and sorrow in the face of tragedy. Prayer is a form of intercession and a way to plead for mercy and peace beyond human understanding. My adult mind is also able to rationalize and process information more calmly. But I hate reading article after article about all the wrong happening in the world, knowing that I am still virtually helpless.

The media is everywhere: paper news on street corners and check-out lines, websites by the millions, half the television channels, the radio stations, pop-up messages on smartphones... you can't escape it. Or can you?

Am I burying my head in the sand to admit that I'd rather not be inundated at all times with the fear-mongering, melodramatic, often explicit news stories that the media chooses to showcase?

Author Rolf Dobelli lists reasons here about why the news is bad for you. "Society needs journalism," he writes, "but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don't have to arrive in the form of news."

What do you think, after reading the article? Please let me know in the comment section below.


Unknown said...

Alyssa, I have often thought that we were not made to take.in all the information about all the worlds tragedies. I don't think our hearts were made to bearthat much sorrow. -melissa (pardon the typos)

Tahaile said...

I joined the military due to another national tragedy. When the Wolrd Trade Centers fell I was hurt and incensed. Friends and familys crowded around the TV set for weeks at a time waiting for the world to end. I saw the footage of horrific things happening that are now buried in some archive. I was 20 and ready to change the world and try to make it a better place. I turned to the USAF. Thinking that I would be able to be the change I wanted to see in the world. I couldn't have been more wrong.
This time around, with the Boston bombing I am once again hurt and incensed. My friends and family are crowding around TV sets waiting for the world to end AGAIN. I saw pictures and footage of horror and gore that, in all reality, don't compare to the filth that is in the movies and video games these days. My only solace Lys is that this is not my home, this is not my final resting place. We have victory through Jesus Christ. Because of that fact, Satan is going to try and worm his way into our heads and try to make us lose the Faith. It really doesn't matter what form he uses. It is everywhere from TV, movies, social media, books, newspapers. Everywhere you look there is some manifestation of the Enemy. But Jesus is the victor. Jesus Christ is Lord.
Pray about whether you should stop watching or reading the news. Ask for conviction one way or the other. And watch for the heroes!!! The men and women that when everyone else is running from the scene of horror are running towards it to help. My heart and prayers go out to Boston and all those hurt by this sensless tragedy.
In Christ,

Christian Hendricks said...

"He who reads nothing at all is better educated than he who reads nothing but newspapers." (Thomas Jefferson, I think)

I'm fairly certain that the news has always been about sensationalism, even before "yellow journalism." News has also rarely been about objectivity: everyone know which way Fox News leans, or the kind of attitude the New York Times espouses. I'll keep abreast of events, but I won't plop down in front of the TV and be washed in bathetic, sensationalist misinformation. It is far more important to spend that time discussing what has just happened with anyone willing, or better yet, to continue on with your life: few news events are so seismic that your life must change from them.

I do think, however, that regardless of how much sorrow our hearts are made to bear, the world will continue to inundate us with troubles, and we must respond accordingly, with strength, courage, a will to understand, and perhaps some exasperation.

Greg Kern said...

I have pondered some of these same ideas myself for a long time now. Because of Technology, humanity is increasingly besieged with a tsunami of Information, News, Ads, Tweets, Likes, etc. etc., and the more sensationalistic, the better (in terms of capturing the attention of the masses).

A few thoughts, if I may, that I try to live out:

(1) Find Quietness
I used to commute to Chicago for a job, every week; taking the "EL" from Midway into downtown, I would often jack in to my iPod and listen to music for the 22-minute train ride. Sometimes, especially as we entered and circled round The Loop, I would take out my earbuds in order to get ready for my stop... One minute I'm enjoying a quiet Chopin nocturne, in a peaceful "world" "all by myself", and the next minute, my ears are flooded with the cacophony of noise in a bustling metro rail system...

So I try to find Quietness in this broken and noisy world.

(2) Look for the Heroes
As has already been pointed out, whenever there has been human tragedy, there has also been an almost immediate human triumph... People helping people, coming to the rescue, offering their muscles and kindness and resources...

I try to look past the death and then blood and the broken and twisted bodies, in order to see, instead, the Heroes as they come out of seemingly nowhere, and offer help... And I pray that I too will act quickly whenever it might be my turn to "be a Hero" to someone...

(3) See the Bigger Picture
I often wonder if I would feel that deep, rage-driven Hatred if I were ever in the position that Polly Klaas' family was in, throughout the murder and trial and infamy of their daughter's gruesome murder. I can only HOPE that I would choose to focus on the fact that (1) my daughter is in Heaven with God, and with His Son Jesus, eternally happy and safe, and that (2) I will see her again there, some day, and that (3) God will remove all tears and all wounds and all hurt, in His appointed time, and finally that (4) He will, in some sense that we perhaps cannot understand yet, "punish" the evil-doer who killed her and establish His Justice, once and for all.

There are clearly demonic forces at work in this broken, pathetic world. There are also, clearly, forces of God's Angels -- indeed, the Spirit of God Himself -- at work, too... In the End, when "Reality" as we know it is turned Upside-Down and we all see, for the first time, what was REALLY going on here on Earth, we will see God SETTLE ALL THE SCORES, Right all the Wrongs, and establish His Sovereignty in plain view for all the Universe to see.

That thought should fill us not only with excitement and peace, but also with a certain dread, since we, too, will be exposed and examined, clinging to the Promise of Glory as our only way to survive it.

Sorry for the long post.
Blessings to you and your sweet family.

MammaC said...

I am a browser and you can be one, too. I do not watch the news every night on TV. I do not read a newspaper every day and I still try to be informed.I will go on a news site every few days and browse the headlines. If something needs to be investigated in more depth I choose the sources that seem the most even knowing that every source has a bias. When significant events happen, I read a few sources and watch a few sources for a short amount of time and then let it be. I always pray for those affected and ask God to watch over the victims of a tragedy and their families. I remember them specifically the next time I am in church. Later, I try to find sources that have analyzed the situation with less drama, sensationalism and knee-jerk reaction. Don't let the news control you. You can control what news you let in and the way you respond to it.

Lyssa said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful, kind, compassionate words, everyone. You have really eased my heart on this matter! Finding a balance of how much information needs to butt its way into my life is a tough one. I feel more confident in establishing boundaries now.