“This just in, we have reports of an elderly woman being attacked by a dog! ” “There are reports coming in from Iraq…” “President Bush can’t open a door. ” these are all really interesting things to hear on the television, especially that last one. But I can guarantee anyone I could go a week without knowing or caring what irrelevant event goes on in the news and still function in society, albeit a little less informed. Because that’s just it: it is irrelevant. Recently, there was an accident in Chile, leaving thirty three miners stranded miles underground, and at that time, I was doing homework.
By the time the first one was rescued, maybe ten million people were glued to the news station, as if this was some horrible thing that never happened before, but I was playing some racing game or another. I’m not saying that I could care less-although I could-but what I mean is that this was happening on another hemisphere, and we thought it as more important than what was going on in our own lives. But I was only hearing bits from others, and became just as informed, but no more interested than when it first happened.
From my middle- and high-school career, I’ve learned that people have something called a “morbid curiosity”, or, to put it frank, we love terrible news, especially when it gets resolved in an exciting way. When there’s a fight, everyone crowds around to see, but no one tries to stop it before it gets bad. People are more interested that someone broke his or her arm than if he or she is alright. If you’ve heard of one accident, or fight, or leaked story of a broken home, you’ve heard them all, and the rest is the same tired details.
Henry Thoreau mentioned in his writings that news is just gossip, and before that, I didn’t really know how to describe it. But as it turns out from his time to mine, news hasn’t changed all that much. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes news is helpful. Knowing a restaurant was closed down due to unsanitary practice could explain why you were sick for a week, or knowing that there’s a rapist in your area would make you a bit more careful. But that’s also my point: local news about important information is helpful.
I need to know university is backed up from Nova Road to Commercial Boulevard, because that affects my school and work commute. I don’t, however, need to know that Lindsey Lohan has the letters “FU” on her middle fingernail while in her court hearing. So, to clarify, most news is unnecessary. It may be interesting to hear or know about, but it doesn’t affect us in our own life. Sometimes there is an article or report with some helpful information, but it’s almost always overshadowed by the latest development.