Do we really need all this news?

On Tuesday evening the final item I watched before turning off the TV and heading for bed was a recording of Jeremy Corbyn extolling the virtues of the Labour Party manifesto. Various ‘experts’ then offered their observations as to whether it could be afforded or not or if they were going to raise the amount in taxes they were hoping for.

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I rolled over in bed on Wednesday morning to hear John Humphreys telling me again that the crisis in The White House is deepening. The word ‘impeachment’ is creeping back into common use after being absent since the 1970’s and the tribulations of Richard Nixon.

At least it makes a welcome change from the ongoing saga of Brexit or of course the everlasting push for Scottish independence. The continuing civil war in Syria and the refugee crisis have almost become old news that most of us are no longer interested in. Of course that doesn’t mean they have gone away. That’s forgetting of course the turbulence being caused by North Korea.

Just in case I had not had my fill, the gym I use had installed a TV in the changing rooms. I had the eye catching benefit of further analysis of the Labour manifesto and of course Theresa May and ‘her team’ before my workout and as I towelled myself dry after a shower. (How long is it before there’s a TV in the shower).

The BBC news channel on Wednesday afternoon analysed the forthcoming Lib Dem Manifesto with a constant stream along the bottom of the screen informing me where Ian Brady’s ashes would not be scattered and that the Metropolitan Police had arrested 4 men on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. It seems the idea that multi-tasking is a myth has not yet reached the BBC.

Then of course there is the constant feed I can read, or more likely grabs my attention, as my mobile phone chimes or my laptop alerts me that a new notification has been received.

Years ago I was encouraged to keep up to date with current affairs and to be well informed. It may even help me in my career. Of course some news is desirable. Local news about our community or traffic news which may help us to avoid problems. Some political news that directly affects our lives or, at election times, helps us to make informed decisions (assuming that our choice has not been decided by our background). More discoveries or developments that inform us and may help us to lead a healthier lifestyle or encourage us to help others when disasters occur.

However most of the news I get from the continuous streams I am surrounded by will fade from my memory within a few days. Made more likely by the lack of context that accompanying video clips, statistics and graphs are given. The same lack of context that often leads us to show an unhealthy interest in trouser zips, slinky dresses and sleaze. Saturation point is soon reached by the relentless bombardment from the constantly growing and obtrusive sources of information.

Is there a danger though that we are becoming hooked by the constant stream of news? Fear and disaster are preferred to reassurance and tepid optimism, perhaps driven by our negativity bias. An evolutionary development that allowed the the species to survive by scenting danger and keeping us alive. On top of which every time we react to an alert or notification on our mobile devices our brain gets a little shot of dopamine (a pleasure giving hormone) that perversely helps to perpetuate the negative cycle.

When talking to a group of people (over 10) recently they all admitted that they had looked at the news and read their emails while still in bed. Thereby immersing themselves in negativity and stress before they had even gone to the bathroom. A small sample but nonetheless indicative.

It is well established that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can help us all with our happiness. Is the opposite true? Is the inexorable march of negative news leading us to greater stress and unhappiness?


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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