A lot of people have my email address these days (unlike in the past when I still imagined a private life was compatible with being on the Internet). Most of those who have it are good people. Many are good friends.
Many also help by sending me news links. And it really has been helpful; there are days when nearly everything I post comes from such emails. Or when one of those emails leads to some productive train of thought.
But enough. If you’ve been sending me links to bad news, please stop.
I don’t need to know about the latest creepy surveillance technology revealed by whistleblowers and ignored by the public. Knowing that Barack “Bush” Obama has just slaughtered another two dozen innocents with a drone doesn’t empower me in any way to live better or be more free. It does not make me a better person or a better writer to learn that thugs have handcuffed, beaten, tased, or shot yet another hapless victim to death.
BUT!, someone will surely exclaim, That’s irresponsible! Ignorance is the problem. Information is power. Pretending that these horrors don’t exist doesn’t make them go away; it just enables tyranny. ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is …’“
Well fine. To each his own. You want to wallow in news, I totally understand because I, too, have a long history of doing such wallowing. I’ll probably (to my self-disgust) wallow again in the not-too-distant future. As long as I earn my living by writing, the temptation to know stuff will arise again and again. I surely can’t blame anybody for being a news junkie when I’m one myself, and a twice-thrice-quintuplely fallen news junkie, at that.
Still. Stop sending me bad news.
It’s not a matter of wanting to be ignorant. Not one of us hereabouts is ignorant in that sense. You know it. I know it. We already all know more than we want to know about the times we live in and the nature of the Beast that wishes to rule us all.
It’s just this: If somebody’s got smallpox, you don’t have to creep up close and count every lesion on his face to understand how sick he is. If somebody’s got bubonic plague, it’s hardly a good idea to assume you need to get right next to her with a ruler so you can gauge the exact size of the buboes.
And that’s what we’re doing with all this horrible news. So do what you like. But please-and-thank-you stop sending it to me. Because I have enough trouble with addiction to that sh*t without anybody offering me another dose.
Or to put it in a more intellectual way, here’s Rolf Dobelli from his invaluable “read twice and call me in the morning” essay, Avoid News:
Most people believe that having more information helps them make better decisions. News organizations support this belief. Hell, it’s in their interest. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is actually inverted. The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand.
No evidence exists to indicate that information junkies are better decision makers. …
Reading news to understand the world is worse than not reading anything. What’s best: cut yourself off from daily news consumption entirely. Read books and thoughtful journals instead of gulping down flashing headlines.