News Overload by: Pettus L. Read

Electronically

Sick World

By News

Overload

As I got up this morning, I turned on the TV to check out just what had happened over the hours I had rested, and sure enough, things were pretty much the way I had left them the night before. Oh, there had 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 changed. You see the same news anchors reporting about all the candidates wishing to be president (still thinking they have a chance to win), 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.

In fact, 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 may be just making our economy and ourselves “electronically” sick by news overload. 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 over used 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 rainstorms. You can’t even enjoy a simple thunderstorm 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 tornados and major storms, but it has gotten to a point where it seems like the duration time has increased with the use of elaborate on-set computer equipment as well. But we have become a society that wants to know everything, even the timing of when a raindrop 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 thirty minutes in the morning, at lunch, dinner and bedtime. In those thirty-minute broadcasts you would also include not only the news, but the weather and sports as well, plus advertisements. It could require detailed news reporting and stories covered could become more news worthy rather than something suitable to catch the viewing public’s eye. It could be news made rather than news created.

It is reported by the A.C. Nielsen Company that we watch more than 4 hours of TV each day. That is about 2 months of watching the one-eyed monster per year and if you live to be 65, that means you will spend 9 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.

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- Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.  He may be contacted by e-mail atpread@tfbf.com

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