I’m a big follower of pertinent news. This means that I might check out the national news, but since I travel, I also read the regional news of the area we’re in. As a result, my phone keeps popping up with stories from the region we were in two weeks or three months ago. I’ve gotten tripped up on news that actually happened way in the past, so I have learned to check the date on any info before I get immersed in a gripping or upsetting tale.
But being a follower of news doesn’t mean that I’m a slave to the info posted on line. I catch up once or twice a week (except for Covid – I access that data when we are moving place to place). I also follow the weather closely because we have have family scattered all over the US. Doing this, I finally got smart and realized that the same set of circumstances in a story, depending on who is writing it, can be spun either negatively or positively. Reporters and writers today seem to have left neutral behind, weaving a story that reflects the writer’s own viewpoint.
My favorite pastime with news is to pick out a story, read it, and then watch for that same story being told by other writers. Bad news becomes good, good news takes a sinister or scary road, just by someone twisting the facts to fit what they want to say. Newscasters of the past usually just reported the news, not usually interjecting their feelings or views on the tale.
However, in today’s world, the more horrifying the story is, the more it increases viewership, or newspaper consumption, or online perusals. You have the option to follow someone on Instagram, or subscribe on YouTube, or even follow the random thoughts of someone with a blog. There are so many avenues, and even more opinions in our lives than ever before in history.
Our responsibility as consumers of “News” is to look at the story objectively, try to ascertain the facts, and then make a decision. Too many of us appreciate a story that is presented incomplete, with facts missing, or purposely omitted, or even twisted, and that is troubling. If someone were to come to our planet from another, they may conclude that we’re a violent people, with no redeeming qualities, where in reality there are many more “good” stories that are never presented because the “bad” news sells more.
And our entertainment news? Following a family that is willing to post their every moment, good or bad? Is this so we enjoy their pain or to wish we were as rich as them? And their followers believe everything that is shown on TV is real, even though the story is heavily edited, or scripted for drama, or totally fabricated. Young children, teenagers, and even those in their 20’s and 30’s are watching these kinds of shows, trying to emulate the people they see on the small screen. They don’t see the struggles and pain that has gone into making the reality stars rich or famous. “Overnight success” is often touted as someone takes a spot in the limelight. But if the story was told truthfully, from start to finish, the work to “make it” would reveal how tough a road it really was.
We all know there’s problems in this world, and we know that “something should be done”. But because of the way news is reported, we aren’t given a chance to form an opinion and decide what to do. As I see it, the biggest disservice that happens daily is “News reporters” telling whoever is watching how bad things are, and then they follow up with “and the mayor (congressman, representative, governor, president, etc) hasn’t decided yet how to move forward” or “how to fix this problem” or some other way of putting the burden of doing something on the general public. The “Bad News” is that we have to try to make good decisions based on the facts that have been presented, and those are dependent on the personal opinions of the person reporting.
Further “Bad News” ? Each and every one of us needs to obtain and evaluate the facts of a story, decide for themselves what it means, and what to do. The general public has gotten lazy, and we’re paying for it now. We have good decent people living today that don’t know how to make a decision. They’ve been told all of their lives to “trust the newscasters – Fox, or CBS or NBC or ABC, or History (or any other of the multitude of news outlets). For us to move forward and build a healthy society, people will have to start making their own decisions, not following friends or TV opinions.
If you find this difficult because you’ve never made a decision on your own and you’re afraid of making the wrong one, just trust yourself. Everyone has made at least one bad decision in their lives, and if the truth be told, probably many more than that. Whether you choose the wrong checkout line when the others are moving faster, or you choose the wrong hair color, or the wrong barber, it’s okay. If you start making decisions and some are wrong, that’s okay. You learn from your mistakes. As you learn, the decisions come easier. Whenever we went out to eat, even if it was to pick up a quick hamburger or pizza, one of my children fell into the habit of, “Mom, you know what I like, you can order for me.” No amount of talking, reassurance, or refusing to do so could make him decide what to eat. However, when I started purposely getting his orders wrong (lettuce on his hamburger, onions and/or mushrooms on the pizza, etc) he initially was frustrated, then he came to the realization that if he wanted his food order right, he had to start choosing for himself. As he became more confident in this, he started deciding what to wear, and what clothes to buy, and even who to make friends with.
And that’s what happens as you practice making choices – you find out what’s right for you, and you’ll start broadening your likes and dislikes. You’ll also start developing your ability to discern the truth in media, instead of the sensationalism that sells the “news”. Maybe you’ll dig deeper in a news item, or maybe not, but trusting your own decisions gives you an advantage over those who are too lazy to even form opinions of their own. There are some important decisions to be made now, and some coming in the future – listen to ALL of the information, not just to those who are the loudest. Verify the information, and then if you need more, dig for it yourself. Based on independent sources you may very well surprise yourself. One thing is true – if you go beyond being superficial, learning more about any issue, your decision, whether others agree with it or not, will be the one that makes the most sense to you, Trust your gut, learn the truth, and leave the sensationalism to those who are too lazy to make their own decisions.