Reading the News Is Bad for You

Recently, I decided that reading the news was bad for me.  Actually,  I think it’s bad for anyone.  Take this sampling of headlines from today’s major news sites:

Teens Guzzle Hand Sanitizer

Mother in Custody after Stabbing Child at City Social Services Office

Man Wished to Have Wife Murdered as a Birthday Gift*

There are a few news sites I quit reading years ago because of their love of alarmist, graphic headlines (I’m looking at you, CNN).  Horrifying the readers must drive traffic, though, because this phenomenon has bled into just about every news site.

Exposure to daily negativity in the news is like starting your day with lead weights on your chest. Do you honestly want to kick off the morning with an image of a mother stabbing her baby in an office full of people?  That’s a rhetorical question —  NO ONE wants this mental image.

In the quest to provide headlines so grotesque that readers HAVE to click, news sites are pushing aside some real news that we would probably want to know.  And likely should know.  For example–did you hear that the Dutch government resigned yesterday?  The prime minister and the cabinet up and quit.  That should be pretty big news, right? Did you hear about it on the radio? TV news?  Internet?

I used to watch and enjoy the Today show every morning.  Now I can barely stomach it, and prefer the positive vibes of Sesame Street instead.  I did check in with Today during the headlines segment out of curiosity.  They did not tell the nation that the Netherlands is now politically rudderless.  I did, however, learn that Guliana Rancic is expecting a baby via surrogate.  I wish Guliana the best, but I’m kinda pissed at Matt Lauer.

Matt — you used to bring me a terrific sampling of world and national news, weather, and a few respectable Hollywood tidbits with my morning tea.  And you looked damn fine doing it.  So please, on behalf of us optimists, let’s have fewer interviews with people who have lost loved ones in a wood chipper.  Until then, the boys and I will be enjoying this.

*I’m purposefully not including the URLs for these, because frankly, I don’t want to drive additional traffic there (but you could always Google if you can’t resist).
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10 Responses to Reading the News Is Bad for You

  1. Cheryl says:

    I’m with you. I never know what’s going on in the world because it’s so depressing I don’t want to read about it! Ignorance IS bliss!

  2. Melissa perlman says:

    You speak the truth! Great entry.

  3. shannon jones says:

    Here, here Em!

    I never really watched the news (which has left me lost at many a cocktail hour). In my single years I was too self-absorbed, and now in my mommy years I am too busy, neurotic, and too much of a hypochondriac to ingest. Did you hear about the Mad Cow Disease in CA? I think I feel some cramping….

  4. Dad says:

    Nancy Grace has to be the worst purveyor of news in the world. She’s Jerry Springer with a law degree.

  5. lulubrain says:

    My favorite post yet! The video kicker sealed the deal. 🙂 Well said, and so very true.

    About a year and a half ago I began cutting down a lot on my national news intake, and it truly makes my days better. I do keep up on the major, important stuff but when I find myself reading headlines like “Escaped gorilla holds family hostage, eats litter of kittens” I know it’s time to hit the “x” tab.

  6. Great post!

    I totally agree. Of course people tell me I SHOULD follow the news, but maybe they should take note next time they’re getting counseling/popping Paxil, why the world freaks them out so much. The NEWS! Take away the sensationalism, hidden agendas, bias, and news media competition and what’s left?

    I don’t know, but I dont read or watch the news regularly, but I still get the cliff notes of the truly important topics just from my own social media feeds.

  7. mrserinanderson says:

    I feel exactly the same way! When Connor was an infant and I was up at all hours, I watched the Today Show religiously. Now I’d happily spend hours with kids shows than be forced to watch just one segment of this “news” program.

  8. It’s funny because I used to listen to NPR because I loved the human interest stories and even they have gone that direction (though not quite so grotesque). I absolutely agree that even main stream news sources like CNN have increased the shock volume. I mentally filter out any potential stories that might make me feel worse like stories about the Mexican drug trade or parents hurting their children. Great blog as always.

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