I’ve previously written about how the news makes you stupid.
To recap that article, my point was that news is given undeserved credibility in society, when it’s often nothing but a source of negativity designed to manipulate emotions and alter your perception of the world (all while providing sensationalised “evidence” to support some pretty ridiculous opinions).
But apart from all of that, there is one underlying problem with virtually every piece of news you hear…
It’s rarely actionable by the viewer
Think about it.
With every piece of news you hear, what do you actually gain from it? How is it actionable by you?
Let’s say you hear about a shooting.
While that’s awful news, what action are you meant to take in response?
Obviously, you can’t prevent the shooting from happening. It’s already happened. And chances are you don’t know who did it or why.
So possessing the information that someone got shot, and who shot him/her, has absolutely NO impact on YOUR life, does it?
Same with other things like celebrity news, sports news, etc. How is any of that “information” actionable by you?
A possible exception
Some would probably argue that there is an exception to this – namely things like natural disasters, acts of terrorism, etc (which, let’s face it, generally make up a tiny percentage of your local news).
Having said that, even here there are possible issues. It’s still not necessarily “actionable” information.
For example, just being “aware” that people are suffering as a result of a disaster doesn’t actually help those people in any way.
In some ways, it’s like the “slacktivism” phenomenon on the web. People think they’re “helping” by joining groups or pasting a photo to “show support”.
Or, in this case, people think they’re helping by watching something on the news and giving victims “their thoughts and prayers“, or posting “my heart goes out…” type comments.
Sorry, that doesn’t actually help anyone.
If some guy is trying to escape a massive flood, the “thoughts and prayers” of someone sitting on their couch eating Doritos and watching the news probably isn’t going to help…
If you truly want to help, there are bodies and organisations that can help you donate or volunteer your own services. That’s actually far more useful to humanity than just watching the news.
But apart from the above example, some might argue that the news can warn you of impending danger in your OWN region. After all, that’s ACTIONABLE information, right?
There are far better methods of obtaining that sort of information than corporately-sponsored news services (which are usually based hundreds of kilometres from where you live).
Let’s face it – when something big and bad happens in your region, chances are you’re going to be listening to instructions issued by police, fire, military, and local government officials instead.
So even in this area the argument that news is “actionable” isn’t particularly strong.
99% of news is absolutely useless to you
Disasters aside, we can probably still agree that 99% of news is absolutely useless. If you don’t believe that, conduct your own experiment next time you watch the news. Count how many news pieces they present. Then count how many are truly ACTIONABLE by you.
Chances are it’s probably about 1%.
Just consuming news in case you hear that 1% is a waste of your precious life. Besides, just because that 1% might be actionable information, doesn’t actually mean it’s important.
Use all of that news consuming time to go and make the world a better place instead. Please.