Say no to News

Kumie reading the evening newsphoto © 2010 jit bag | more info (via: Wylio)


If you are like most people, you consider reading/watching the News a good thing, an important thing. It keeps you in the know about the world around you. You might find my statement about avoiding News, contrary to the general flavor.

 

Since I was very small, I came to see the importance of News through my father’s actions. He subscribed to two newspapers and listened to at least one news bulletin on TV daily. It was a daily ritual for him. He spent a substantial amount of time reading/watching news. I emulated him and picked up the habit myself. I prided myself with being aware of happenings around me.

Some time in my youth, an article by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam caught my eye. He was a famous and respected scientist in India at that time and later became the President of India. His article gave me a different view of things. That article said how negative the view of the Indian media was. I thought about it. For the most part, I had never felt very good after reading News. It did feed my ego, but it seemed to do nothing to make a difference to my life directly.

When I went to the US, I saw a different view of world events. The same facts were presented in a different way. Writers there had a different opinion and the whole experience of reading news was very different. One thing was common though, it was the same kind of news in both places – one crisis after another. It seemed more things were going wrong than there were going right. I realized something important – What we see in newspapers and in News bulletins, is not necessarily true. What a newspaper says is the view of the writer and the staff there. This can be influenced by a number of factors, ranging from their capacity to understand events, to what they perceive would be good for their business and what would be received well by their readers.

What we see in newspapers and in News Bulletins, is not necessarily complete either. Majority of the people in this world, live under fear. They believe something bad is going to happen and need security against it. They need to be informed about the bad so that they can be prepared for it. There are very few who believe in a friendly Universe. Consequently, most people believe easily in a fatalistic view of things and hence, sensational, negative news is what sells easily and is most widely circulated. Even if the news we see is correct, its mostly negative news that will affect our minds and attitudes in a bad way. Whereas I saw a lot of obsession with Pakistan, China, bad politics and corruption in India, I saw an obsession with terror attacks, health problems and Afghanistan in the US.

I believe that we are affected by everything that we allow into our lives. To stop myself from getting affected by all this negative news, I stopped watching it. I haven’t seen news in over four years now and I don’t miss it at all. I do glance over headlines of e-papers sometimes, usually once in 2-3 days. That is a 5-10 min affair. I have a basic idea about most world and local events to some degree. I am not affected by any of this. There is some information that I do miss. People are surprised when they find me ignorant of some details or of some news altogether, but I shrug it off. I have a lot of time to spare since I stopped watching news and am doing more of what I really like doing, things that really matter to me and affect my life.

I am doing just fine without the negativity :)

4 Comments

  • Rakesh Rao
    November 9, 2010 - 6:32 am | Permalink

    I do something similar. Instead of totally stopping to read/view newspapers or the news channels i flip the channel or the page which does not bring a good feeling in me. I try to see things which bring out a good feeling, so now after some practice it so happens that whenever i try to watch something or read something i only get news of hope, growth and things which make me feel good!

    • Rahul
      November 9, 2010 - 6:57 am | Permalink

      Right on Rakesh. This is a very good point!
      I have different news feeds set into my google home page. I scan over them once in 2-3 days and open only those links that seem to have positive, interesting content.
      I guess what we can take away here is that we have to be very selective about the news we read. We have to read news with an aim to find more positivity in the world that we can connect to.
      I am glad I have some company in you!

  • Jyoti
    November 9, 2010 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    I agree with you and Rakesh. Infact I do the same. Earlier I used to try and read each article religiously but later I learned to be selective in this process. And being selective has helped me save a lot of time in addition to maintaining a positive temperament.
    But I would like to bring to focus how our education system in itself promotes reading newspaper blindly. For example, Current Affairs (or General Knowledge) is essentially a part of various competitive exams like IAS, which forces the young generation to take down all the information without processing it, just for the sake of clearing the exam.
    I believe that students should be taught to question things and their curiosity should be encouraged….so that they can think for themselves and then choose to say “Yes” or “No” to anything.

    • Rahul
      November 9, 2010 - 6:46 pm | Permalink

      I think a person appearing for such exams has to make a choice. If he believes the news is, in general negative, he may decide to read it only for the exams and leave it later. He may consult the exam board and ask why this is required, he may decide he doesn’t want to be in such a service, etc.
      Each person will have to decide his response to this situation. Once you are conscious of a negative situation, you have multiple ways out, as long as your focus is where you want to go, you will reach there, no matter which path you take. Your focus on the goal will lead you to the right path. Maybe you will find a positive newspaper, or maybe you will start one yourself, instead of going for that exam :)

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