Do you remember what life was like before the 24 hour news industry? What was television, radio, newspaper and radio like before CNN, BBC, FoxNews, MSNBC and the countless other stations, channels and corporations whose purpose it is to report something 24 hours a day? Let us not forget the endless apps for smartphones and tablets that also offer news and notifications “pushed” to your device, morning, noon, night and even overnight.
Have you ever observed someone “glued” to the TV watching the latest “Breaking News”, or one of the endless updates on news reported earlier in the day?
Recently, this National Taoism Examiner had such an experience. Early in the morning, there were several people watching one of the 24 hour news networks, with such intensity that they could not look away from the TV while speaking to someone in the same room. When the phone rang they answered the phone with their eyes still fixated on the TV. After more than an hour of watching “repeating” news stories, they decided to go out for breakfast and do a little sight seeing and shopping. Upon returning, immediately the TV went back on and the news network (approx. 6 or 7 hours later) was still reporting the same exact news from earlier in the morning. More apparent updates, of the same news.
Terror attacks around the world, bombings in the Middle East, burglaries in your neighborhood, shootings outside a nightclub, a woman raped while walking home from the bus, daily car accidents on local roads, house fires reported that occur in cities several states (or countries) away, entertainers/celebrities being arrested, Federal Reserve raising interest rates, stock market going up, stock market crashing, global warming, global climate change, Ad nauseum…
It would be interesting to see a study comparing the levels of stress observed and reported pre-1980’s compared to today, and see if there is a correlation with the rise of the 24 hour news cycle.
How many people watch the morning news while having breakfast, what do you think the effect this has on ones digestion? Is it really suitable to start ones day with a barage of bad news? Imagine the effect on sleep patterns when people watch the news right before going to sleep.
In his book “8 Weeks to Optimum Health” Dr. Andrew Weil adivses people to slowly wean onself off the news addiction that many have become accustomed to. He relays a story of a person who looked at the front page from a major newspaper, from decades prior (approx. 100 years prior), only to discover that the headlines were almost identical to the ones being reported as “Breaking News” today.
Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden:
“I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another. One is enough.”
In Taoist cultivation one is encouraged to move in a completely different direction than 24 hour news; Lao tzu stated in the Tao Te Ching:
“Without going outside his door, one understands all that takes place under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out from himself, the less he knows. Therefore, the sages got their knowledge without traveling; gave their right names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so. (James Legge)”
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