News overload numbs mind, heart
By Pettus L. Read
Tenn. Farm Bureau
I keep having people ask me if I have adjusted to retirement. Since it has only been just a month since I turned off the office light for the last time and I’ve never retired before, I’m not really sure what the adjustment should feel like. I do know, so far this year, summer may have been a better time to have done so. This global warming is giving me cabin fever, and if the ground hog sees his shadow, I’m declaring war on all whistle pigs.
Cold weather, satellite TV and more time on my hands to start the days have caused me to develop new routines. One thing is as I rise each morning, I turn on the TV to check out just what happened over the hours I rested, and sure enough, things are pretty much the way I left them the night before. Oh, there have been a few more people senselessly removed from this Earth due to violence that we are becoming too accustomed to, due to instant reporting, but as far as the rest of the happenings, not much changes. You see the same news anchors reporting about the markets having all the analysts confused and some groups of people with too much time on their hands protesting somebody else because they are at work doing something rather than protesting. It doesn’t take you long to realize that it is just another typical day in the news world of America.
During this short month, I have found it is not the best way to start off your day if you want to begin the day feeling good. It is sort of like having someone tell you as soon as you get up in the morning that you look sick. You may not be sick at all, but if people continue to make the observation and tell you all day that you do look sick, by afternoon you may start thinking it yourself. I wonder if we have spent so much time watching 24-hour news stations, local news at all hours of the day and now news tweets on our phones, we just may be making our economy and ourselves “electronically” sick with news overload. I know you have heard me say this before, but now I believe it more than ever.
There are some news channels that have reported news so continuously to the masses that we don’t even hear them any longer, requiring all their reporters and anchors to holler at us to get our attention. They have overused the term “breaking news” so much that we don’t even turn our heads anymore to see what they are talking about.
I heard someone use the term “collateral ignorance” the other day, and it seems to be a term that sort of sums up what is going on around the world lately. All it takes is one instance of group ignorance happening somewhere in this country, and before you know it there are other groups out there supporting and reinforcing those efforts, plus calling it a “cause.” Before long, it is a collateral effort that people join without even knowing what they are becoming a part of. Given today’s ability of social media and the Internet, many causes may spring up without even having a real purpose.
The same thing is happening with the weather. You can’t even enjoy the seasons anymore without being frightened to death with warnings and large colorful blobs being broadcast for hours on your TV set. I do appreciate the help for pinpointing tornadoes and major storms, but it has gotten to a point where it seems like the duration has increased with the use of elaborate computer equipment as well. We have become a society that wants to know everything, even the timing of when a raindrop or snowflake will fall from the sky.
I wonder what would happen if we turned off 24-hour news for a while and went back to the way it was a few years ago, when it was 30 minutes in the morning, at lunch, dinner and bedtime. In those thirty-minute broadcasts, you would also include not only the news, but also the weather and sports, plus advertisements. It could require detailed news reporting, and stories covered could become more newsworthy rather than something suitable to catch the viewing public’s eye.
The A.C. Nielsen Company reports that we watch more than four hours of TV each day. That is about two months of watching the one-eyed monster per year. And if you live to be 65, that means you will spend nine years watching Fox News or CNN. I just don’t think that is on anyone’s bucket list, but if it is, they are sure to reach the end of their list a lot sooner than they ever thought they would.
Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. Contact him at email@example.com.