June 14, 2015

Rector’s Reflection

I found an article on-line from the April 15, 2013 edition of the guardian. The title is “News is bad for you and giving up reading it will make you happier.”

The author Rolf Dobelli begins: “In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. … Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.” He goes on to say, among other things, that news misleads, is irrelevent, makes us passive, and kills creativity.

Now I know there are those of you who would take umbrage with Mr. Dobelli, but I thought when I read it – and still think – he’s on to something. That was driven home to me this week when the airwaves were filled with news stories and alerts about the two escaped murderers in New York State. Driving in one morning I listened to a rather lengthy piece (from Old 11 to the 98 Wal-Mart entrance) from which I learned the killers were still at large, they could be holed up ‘within the shadow’ of the prison, they may have crossed over to Canada, they may still be together, they may have split up, they may have had an accomplice meet them with a car and food, they may steal a car and food, one man had lived in Mexico so he may be headed there, but maybe both were. Each possibility was parsed by a variety of experts and when all was said and done, there was a lot more said than done. I realized I knew nothing more than the convicts were still at large, which, by the way, is the only thing the news deliverers knew. A low-cal piece of news had enough different syrups, whipped cream, and crushed nuts added to it to send someone into a dialectic coma.

I remember when there were journalists. I remember when news reporters reported news. The news industry had not yet formed an unholy alliance with the entertainment industry. Good grief, I guess that dates me!