Depressing News: Should We Stop Reading?

Olivia Syftestad As Mark Twain said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” News is a building block for our society, but should it be? For some reason, toxic, depressing articles draw a bigger audience. We choose to read headlines like “50 killed in mass airstrike,” not the more uplifting pieces like, “New dinosaur bones discovered!” There is, and always has been, an ongoing debate about whether reading news is good or bad for you. People’s differing views have led to a lot of controversy over this topic, but there are critical arguments on both sides. News is vital because it keeps us informed. By reading news, we keep up on current events and deepen our insights on topics we are already familiar with. News influences our actions, the way we live, the way we think, the way interact with others, and the way we make decisions. News is more than just a bunch of evidence glued to a page. Reading news is essential to become an involved and informed citizen. Additionally, reading news is important because it allows us to develop our own opinions and use critical thinking. Reading articles allows you to develop your own opinions and views about global events, which both you and others can benefit from. Reading the news also teaches you about different, often new topics. There is so much variety when it comes to articles. You can read from multiple standpoints, and develop interests in so many subjects, as well as discover what you don’t enjoy as much. This leads you to develop well rounded thoughts and views, and uncover new passions. News is good because it keeps us informed, pushes us to generate new thoughts and helps us recognize new interests. While there are many merits to reading the news, not everyone agrees that, overall, it is beneficial. One reason news can be bad is that it is known to be misleading. This idea was interestingly expressed in an article by Rolf Dobelli from the Guardian. He said, “But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking.” The media often embellishes upon events, and highlights details that do not represent the entirety of the incident. We are left thinking something completely different occured, and have the wrong frame of thinking about the event. Toxic, addicting material overwhelms the piece and you are left better off not having read the article in the first place. Additionally, awareness of fake news has become very prominent. It can be very difficult for people to determine whether an article is fake or real. According to a CNN poll, 25% of over 1,000 adults have shared fake news, and 16% have done it without even knowing it. These numbers are only continuing to grow. Lastly, reading news can be bad as it blocks off new ideas. News surrounds you with repetitive, unoriginal concepts that cloud your imagination and disrupt your ability to think outside of the box. News is such a monumental aspect in our lives; for better or for worse, it is everywhere. There are many differing and valid opinions on this topic, and it is now up to you to determine where you stand. Is reading the news doing you more good or harm?   Resources: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/10/health/fake-news-kids-common-sense-media/index.html https://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli https://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-rubin/news-is-bad-for-you-rebuttal_b_3092183.html  ]]>