June 9 – Something You Have Heard
aka. Post 9 of Those 30 Posts in June Blog-Every-Day Posts
I do a lot of ranting about the modern media on this blog. Well… ok, if not a lot then some… and if not particularly about the media itself then ranting about how people here in the early twenty-first century tend to react to the media.
And then I was driving home, listening to a podcast (of course) and something one of the hosts said neatly aligned with my need to write this post this evening: it was simply, what’s the deal with the news? Y’know.. news. The News. The important stories of the day, broadcast, read by deep voiced reporters making everything sound important. Why the heck are we so fascinated with news? Or, why do I listen to the radio news, then read the newspaper, then scan the internet for more news, then turn on the television and watch even more news? I mean, what compels me to do that? What’s the point?
It’s the news, you say. It’s important. It’s current events. Listening and paying attention is being an informed citizen.
I guess… sure, maybe… but is it?
Have you ever listened to the news in the morning, sometimes in a half-asleep state before you’ve even crawled out of bed, and thought, wondered, contemplated why there is always something worth reporting? We talk about “slow news days” as a kind of joke about some particular story that somehow doesn’t seem deserving of the airtime or ink it got, but yet every day there still seems to be stories to tell. Eight minutes worth. Every day there seems to be things going on that I should care about, according to the little voice coming out of the little black box beside my bed, telling me that there are important people doing important things, or average people overcoming obstacles, or terrible people being punished for breaking our rules. Every day. Never do I wake up and the reporter says, hey, sorry folks… nothing really happened yesterday so we’re just going to play some music. It’s never happened.
For some reason there is always the news. As if we can’t go a day without the official gossip of our society spewing from the speaker. As if, like our morning coffee or that piece of toast and jam, the day can’t properly start unless something, somewhere has happened and filtered through whatever agent is filtering it and then projecting it out into our homes, into our lives, for us to think about, aspire to, shout about, and rage against.
Maybe there is just so much news that all we get is eight minutes worth. That’s all that they have time for. There is just so much worth telling that they cram as much as they can into that narrow little window and… and…
Should I care? I mean it usually just makes me angry at the world. Stupid people doing stupid things. Corrupt people doing corrupt things. People screwed over, killed, cheated, avenged, defied, reviled, caught, and ruined. We aspire to be on the news or to avoid ever being news. No one wants to be bad news. And no news is not necessarily good news. Yet making some people are always making the news whether they seek to make it or not.
We cling to dramatic news. We gush at empathetic news. We roil at news that exposes truths we never even knew we might care about. And then some people get so angry at some news that they go an make the news by being the types of people who turn bad thoughts into more bad news.
As a collective it is almost like a weird symptom of some societal illness. As a group, we are introspective and simultaneously narcissistic. And we’re all guilty, I guess.
I’ve heard the news. I’ll keep hearing the news. I guess I just never really stopped to wonder why I listen, or why I should keep on.