Did you know, that it is estimated that 1 weeks worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person in the 18th Century would come across in their whole lifetime? Much of this information will be News. I believe this is News Overload.
For the purposes of history (should this blog page last), this entry is being written in middle of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. It is such events that make us turn to the news stations, papers and websites. This for me causes an overload of news.
Why do we do this?
I am not a human psychologist and can only speak for myself.
When bad news strikes, I seem to have an intense curiosity to understand it. Selfishly, this curiosity is usually driven by selfish motives; how will this affect me? When will the current bad news end is also another question that desire.
With the advent of the ‘Always on’ world the news is plentiful, of this there is no doubt. We can listen to news radio. A plethora of 24 hour news TV. Internet web sites. I seem to get drawn in and readily accept the 30 minutes cycle of the same news.
Do we need this much?
Humans, by their very nature, are inquisitive and social animals. As a result, we do quest knowledge and understanding. Such understanding enables learning. Actions and behaviours can be adjusted. Perhaps this is self preservation. Understandable human instinct.
I do sometime question if we always need to know what is happening on far away shores. Events that will not affect our local lives. My mind is open and un-decided on this subject.
Many news shows have a never ending stream of so called experts. For me, this is just a way of stretching out the news item until the next cycle can start. A piece of news is presented and then analysed endlessly. I would suggest that it is the exception rather than the rule when these ‘experts’ bring additional value to the news snippets. Very often, they are opinion. There is a time and a place for opinion, but not every 30 minutes!
Is there such a thing as too much?
The constant repeat of the same news, may be convenient for some. For many it can become addictive. Constantly listening, reading or watching, searching for the new snippet. Perhaps progress. Maybe even the beginning of the end of the news story.
In my opinion, you can have too much news. I recall being in the USA on September the 11th. The TV news was watched for 5 hours solidly before my friend and I decided that the news was not changing. Facts were very few and far between. It was time to take a break from the news. Under the circumstances we did the only other thing we could. Yes, we went to the pub and got drunk. In the morning, the news was still there and the meaningful news nuggets had not massively increased. We missed little.
In the Corona pandemic, the same is true. As the lockdown started, I watched endlessly. Became addicted. The result was stress and despondency. Little additional information was learnt by the constant ingestion of news.
In answer to the question – Yes, there is such a thing as too much news. My conclusion is that it is also bad for a persons mental stage.
As a result of the current news overload, I have developed my own protection mechanisms. These are so very simple and depend on what I am doing. They are –
- If am working, I listen to music radio with just a 2 minute news bulletin.
- If am home, I limit myself to a maximum of 1 hour of news broadcasting each day.
For your own sanity, please limit your news intake. Rather than absorbing ‘Expert Opinion’, listen to the facts and form your own opinion. As a result, you will prevent yourself suffering from News Overload. Not only that, you will own your own opinion.