First, my apologies. It’s summer, which is my Very Busy Season. Things will slow down after September. I’m trying to drop this quicker than I normally would, so you have something from me.
When you sit down to read a book for fun, would you rather read something like Hammer’s Slammers or Monster Hunters Inc… or a diatribe on the health of oatmeal for breakfast?
I choose books based on whether they have things in them that interest me. I like science fiction, fantasy, some detective things. Sign me up for Heinlein novels, Harry Potter stuff, Sookie Stackhouse and Merry Gentry. I love the Cadfael series. All of these have characters that may have started out seeming normal, but very quickly showed they were not.
That’s because books aren’t written about the normal people. After all, who would read it? It would be boring.
I got up this morning at 7:32am. I read news on my phone for ten minutes while waking up, then stretched for a few minutes, and headed down to make breakfast. I was very tired after a long weekend camping, so I decided to take a nap. I napped for just shy of two hours, and I’m feeling better. I did some paperwork for a company I work for. I made eggs for lunch.
Isn’t that dryer than a popcorn fart? I mean, really.
News is the same way. During the physical newspaper era, we got around that by having a “page one” news blast, and then putting the less interesting stuff inside. People tended to read the majority of the paper, knowing that there was information of use inside, even if it wasn’t a headline. After all, when your news only comes once a month (in the early days of America) or once a week (at the beginning of the 20th century), you eventually read every article. Why? Because it’s there. And newspapers did their best to keep it interesting, with articles for men, women, and younger readers. Most of the news, though, wasn’t Front Page News. Nor should it have been, really.
Most people no longer get newspapers these days. You’ll probably notice that those who do tend to be much better informed, and less “opinionated” and more educated. The print newspaper, however, is going the way of the dodo.
The only news being read these days with any regularity is headline news, page one stuff. That means our view of the world is not predicated on reality, but on splash. It’s skewed. And it’s wrong. Having only headlines as your reading material makes you begin to assume that everything IS a headline.
This is how we get a relatively low number of school shootings equating a huge movement to “stop the violence against kids”. This is how we end up thinking that every abortion is late term and due to people being stupid. This is how Trump got castrated (and crowned) by the media.
Our “news” isn’t actually news anymore. It’s just a series of splashy headlines designed to cause you to be enraged. Heinlein talks about how the media (in his case, the media controlled by a religious zealot running America, in one of his books) twists the mind by using phrases and sounds and similes that bring about emotional responses. He talks about how people who are very good at writing that kind of thing will, in that society, never lack for work. I submit that it is happening right now, among all of us, by both sides of the current America’s Great Divide.
I challenged myself during the last couple of weeks. One week I spent reading only “page three or later” type articles. I read things about gardening, and how 18th century lighting is changing how we light our homes today. I pursued information on my local community. Another week, I read only “social media” – articles gotten online, and basically “just the headlines”, the big noise that is always clamoring for attention. During my “page three” week, I felt very calm, relaxed, and I slept better. I still heard the headline news, because various people in my life shared pieces here and there, but my stress level was down. During the week on social media, I felt hyper, stressed, over-tired, and worried. I got into more arguments. I felt unsettled.
Was I less “educated” during the “page three” week? No, not really. I heard about things, and if I felt they were important, I could have people forward them to me to read. I’m on FaceBook, so I was going to see SOME news, no matter what. I could have come here, too, though I did not end up doing so.
It’s an interesting thought. What does it do to the brain, to be constantly and unendingly bombarded with front page slasher news? We long ago banned people from being able to use subliminals in advertising. Is this akin to another level of subliminals? Only worse, because we tend to be smothered with our own algorithm…
Something to give considerable thought to.
Yours in deep thought,