This week we’re talking about News – the kind that comes at you 24 hours a day via all sorts of media. The kind that can make you feel a little crazy and hopeless if you let it.
Particularly in times like these, when competing headlines come fast and furious, and when so much of the news seems disturbing or difficult to interpret, it can be tough to moderate your intake – and your response.
So here, we share our counsel on how to balance your desire to know what’s going on in the world with your need to maintain some sense of sanity and resilience.
We also offer some experiments to help you manage your news consumption in ways that work for you.
“News” Episode Highlights
- Why habitual (or excessive) intake of news can distort rather than inform our view of the world, with anxiety-inducing effects
- “If it bleeds, it leads” – the predominant media bias toward fear-producing, violent, and disturbing topics
- The increasingly blurred lines between marketing, propaganda, and actual news
- The importance of understanding where your news is coming from, and discerning the slant or agenda behind a story
- The value of being informed via a wide variety of sources (including some that don’t necessarily confirm your biases and beliefs)
- Counsel of moderating your news intake — balancing the responsibility of informed citizenry with the physical- and mental-health risks of news overload
Challenge your world view by reading or watching a short snippet from a news source you wouldn’t normally go to.
- Instead of getting angry or agitated, try to find the truth and human experience in the different perspective. Know there is some truth and some bias in every story.
Expand your awareness of news streams in your midst, and recognize how much more pervasive, manipulative, and invasive they have become over time.
- 1) Strive to consciously divert your attention away from TV screens and monitors wherever you go (restaurants, airports, gas stations, taxis) and notice how hard it is to avoid or ignore them. Recognize how effectively media has been designed to co-opt your attention, and to work continuously on both your conscious and subconscious awareness.
- 2) Find some online video of a vintage TV-network newscast from the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s and observe how much simpler, more neutral, and more civilized the news production was back then (no ticker tape, minimal graphics, very little drama, etc.), and see how the comparison affects your perception of today’s media.
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- “The Psychological Effects of TV News”, an article from the Psychology Today site.
- More on why News Is Bad for You from The Guardian.
- Pilar’s “Media Diet Makeover” article in Experience Life magazine.
- The NPR interview with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about the disconnect between the long-term trend toward a more peaceful world and the media’s focus on sudden, violent events.
- Our “Health Media” episode – navigating confusing and contradictory health headlines and data, and the effects of excessive media consumption on your health.
- Good Life Project interview with Michelle Gielan, former CBS news anchor turned positive psychology researcher, on “Broadcasting Happiness”.
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