Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Feb

How the News Impacts Your Health (and What You Can Do About It)

newsheadlinesLike everyone, I’ve had ample opportunity in my life to sit in waiting rooms. In the last several, however, I’ve noticed a trend that admittedly gets under my skin: the ubiquity of television news – and the negative events it routinely emphasizes. It’s been part of the airport scene forever now, it seems, but lately I’ve come across it in more restaurants and even in clinic waiting rooms. (Nothing beats watching multiple cycles of the latest grisly murder story as you eat your lunch or are waiting in agony for a doctor, eh?) In some respects, I appreciate having more than the morning paper or the 5 o’clock newscast if there’s a story I’d like to follow. With cable news and the Internet, we can assuredly keep on all the latest – what our go-to media sources choose to report of it anyway– 24/7. More than ever, we can get every detail, every commentary, every image associated with a given story. We can spend an entire day fixated on an event. We can watch a footage segment a hundred times if we please. Do we pay for this need to know, however? Does news exposure – specifically its heavy, menacing, and disturbing stories – have an impact on our personal well-being? What does it mean to have looming tales of death and destruction so frequently playing in our periphery? What happens to the human psyche (and body) when they’re fed a steady diet of unsettling news bulletins?

We have friends who recently had their first child. Over dinner a few weeks ago, the new mother joked that she’s timed the local news perfectly to catch the nightly “feel-good” feature story and weather while avoiding the initial doom and gloom reports. “Maybe it’s just hormones,” she explained, “but the news just throws me off my emotional equilibrium in a different way now. It doesn’t feel healthy to immerse myself in the worst of the world and human nature every night. I just want to be present without all the bad stuff for a while.” I can identify with her frustration. It seems like the news is too often a parade of muck and mayhem. The stories with the most shock value win, however demoralizing they are. (And then there are the obnoxious production effects: flashing red “alerts,” multiple streaming tickers, menacing musical bytes.) These days it’s hard to walk away from a newscast or even a newspaper without feeling like you need a shower – or at least an energy adjustment.

There’s substance to be found of course – information relevant to personal and civic life. Even then, the endless news cycling of troubling events and violent images (e.g. war, famine, environmental destruction, bloody uprisings, etc.) leave an imprint that often disheartens more than it informs. As I sat in an airport boarding terminal recently, I saw a mother try to keep her young sons distracted from CNN’s images of the Egyptian revolution and the initial military response. Was it important news? Yes, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to see it every waking minute. (And how about the question of exposing young children to these reports?) I don’t know about you, but I don’t need more things to worry about when I’m traveling.

The power of negative news isn’t about political philosophies or cultural wars. We’re human, it’s true, and suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition. Information can help us understand our world and inspire us to work toward constructive change. Our constant access to all that ails, however, comes with genuine mental and physical health costs. Although we might think we don’t participate in media representation of disturbing news, research tells us otherwise. A study of 89 people who were shown footage of four traumatic events showed that nearly 20% reported symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the viewings. (Frequency of exposure was a factor in participants’ emotional reactions.) As the head of the study explained, “’Acts of violence erode our sense of security and create intense feelings of anger, fear and helplessness. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those who are directly experiencing them can impact on a certain percentage of individuals causing longer lasting effects.” A meta-analysis of 23 research studies (PDF) focused on terrorism related media revealed a similar correlation with PTSD.

It may not be enough to simply walk away from the television either. A study of undergraduate students showed that simple distraction wasn’t enough to erase the lingering anxiety and mood disturbance induced by a 15-minute random newscast. Need any good news, anyone? Although the group that was exposed to an unrelated lecture (distraction strategy) following the news excerpt didn’t return to baseline mood measures, the group that participated in a 15-minute progressive relaxation exercise afterward did. (What does it say when we need relaxation activities to recover our equilibrium after a mere 15 minutes of a news broadcast? Maybe that’s not such good news.)

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs reports that American adults spent an average of eight hours watching news reports in the days following the Sept. 11th attacks. The average for young children was three hours. The more footage adults and children watched, the higher stress levels they reported. The Oklahoma City bombing coverage elicited similar responses in viewers.

It’s a new world we live in, where we’re privy to every new wrinkle of death and destruction that rains down in some corner of the world. How do we process all of it? Can we? How can we prioritize our well-being while still remaining informed?

In an interesting article from a few years back, one therapist criticizes the modern practice of psychotherapy as disconnected from our experience of the world’s pain, the “dark emotions” that naturally arise from our human empathy in response to the tragedy and destruction we witness in the world around us. It’s an intriguing point. Until recent times, our context for experiencing the world and empathizing with those around us was very limited – a tribe, a town. Our modern media and the “connected world” hand us each, in some regards, the fate of Atlas. In Grok’s day, he could effectively act on the threats to his community, heal beyond its contained tragedies. In our day, the stakes are much higher and the implied community much broader. The peril and calamity of an entire global society can stretch the emotional dimensions of our humanity past their coping limits.

Among her suggestions is the need to accept and make peace with the “inevitable pain of being alive and being humanly connected to others.” Nonetheless, she explains, we must also bring a protective consciousness to our interaction with the world, “cultivating a deep awareness of emotions as in-the-body energies, and of the thoughts that both trigger and subdue them.”

In the end, the question remains: is there a way to be informed in a meaningful, deeper sense while not immersing ourselves in the constant barrage of bad news? While we all have the power to turn off or throw out the TV or otherwise unplug, there’s got to be a healthier middle ground between sticking your head in the sand and putting yourself in the middle of every human tragedy. What information truly obliges our attention for the sake of self-improvement and social action and what information simply constitutes unnecessary – even cruel – emotional clutter?

C. John Sommerville, author of How the News Makes Us Dumb: the Death of Wisdom in an Information Society, notes that our constant exposure to endless threads of instantaneous, disassociated “news” without the natural filters of time and context has the power to leave us overwhelmed and still lacking in larger perspective. We’d do better, he suggests, spending less time staying on top of each trivial update and devoting more time to discussing, reflecting, and thoughtfully acting on the major issues and events that we feel require our attention.

Finally, there’s the larger issue of realigning perspective. There’s power – and truth – living in the here and now. The relative peace of this moment for one person is as genuine and meaningful as the tragedy befalling another. The world, we must remember, is more than the sum of its crises.

Share what you believe about the intersection of an informed and healthy life. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Maybe I’m wrong here but, local TV is really becoming the horse and buggy as far as news goes.

    Who tunes in at 5 pm anymore when you can just click on an internet news source at any time of the day.

    Plus, if it’s depressing, you can just click to this site, or any other positive healthy internet source, and get cheered up.

    Being too connected to the media is “bad news” for me.

    I was once a depressed, stressed, fat local TV news producer.

    Danielle wrote on February 24th, 2011
  2. Not all news is the same. The emotional effect of reading about a violent event in the New York Times would seem less than seeing graphic footage of the same event on TV news.

    Perhaps good advice is to ditch the TV and switch to reading the newspaper?

    Tim wrote on February 24th, 2011
  3. I don’t watch TV news anymore. I might watch an opinion show for entertainment from time to time. The news shows are just too annoying, and you can’t control what gets delivered. On the other hand I use my iPad to troll the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and some of the news magazine sites to get the news that is of interest to me. So while I’m aware of what is going on in the world (at least from a headline level), I don’t have to subject myself to news stories that are depressing unless I choose to do so. I find I’m a much happier and optimistic person when I’m not plugged in to current events.

    Dave Fish wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • i read to the bottom of the comments before replying myself, and it’s interesting how much most of us agree. but i couldn’t resist putting in my two-cents-worth about how ignorant the people delivering the news seem to be! ever count the grammatical mistakes made by the newscasters? :-D my mother keeps the television on a good part of the day — i don’t know how she can stand the constant inane bleating.

      tess wrote on February 24th, 2011
  4. I try and follow the news daily, but when it comes to destructive news I only stay at the headlines, as I’ve always felt it uncomfortable to hear about horrible stories. This way it’s possible to stay on top of what’s going on (which I think is important) and not suffer yourself because of it.

    Pretty much agree with the post completely!

    Mauricio wrote on February 24th, 2011
  5. last year my friend noticed that their kid started crying too much since they were watching too much TV. after they totally turned off the TV when the kid was around, he stopped crying..learn from kid, never watch TV..read books..work on puzzless..do paintings..music or take a walk..play with your kid…cook..sing..so much to do instead of watching TV and way much more fun. live like modern caveman in your modern caves…you have to deserve the food before you eat and once you fight for it and eat , you deserve the rest..as simple as it is ..

    salim wrote on February 24th, 2011
  6. We ditched TV 7 years ago and we don’t miss it. Now when I watch news at other people’s house I laugh at how bad it is. The ridiculous way they say it in that same tone.
    It IS depressing too. Now intead of just dealing with local bad news, we are bombarded with every bad thing that is happening in the entire world and it’s just overwhelming. I have to take days off from the internet for that very reason, just to detox from all the bad news. Even reading people’s comments on message boards is depressing because of how nasty and mean-spirited they can be. My spouse really only reads the paper for news and it’s amazing how less stressed he is because he’s just unaware of what is going on unless he hears it on the radio or reads it in the paper.

    Nomad1 wrote on February 24th, 2011
  7. The kebab restaurant we went to yesterday was playing the SportsCenter mascot bloopers. So I got to laugh AND eat grilled meat. Awesome.

    Jenn wrote on February 24th, 2011
  8. A few months ago I had to drive my boyfriend home from an appointment for oral surgery. They had the news on, which I found highly irritating. I always bring a book with me to pass the time and I couldn’t read, I kept getting sucked in, either due to the way it’s presented or just the given topic. Fortunately there was a tree outside where I could sit and read in peace. Perhaps I notice it more, as I rarely ever watch TV, news or otherwise, and haven’t really ever much.

    When I lived overseas the news would sometimes be on in the background while making dinner, but it was a lot less intrusive. US news presentation tends to be brash and sensationalist. Although I do get plenty of information online I can control the source, the volume, the content as well as the commercials, another irritating factor.

    I have no problem with chucking the TV, or what many people used to do, keeping it in a console so it wasn’t the center of family life.

    Sandy wrote on February 24th, 2011
  9. Don’t watch the news. Don’t read the newspaper, except for the weather and some sports. Don’t read internet news. Ever since I was in Vietnam and would read fictitious accounts of operations I was involved in. News agencies lie. It’s called “yellow journalism”.

    Bull wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • Well said Bull.

      Jane wrote on February 24th, 2011
  10. I stopped watching/reading the news when I was pregnant. The two aren’t compatible.

    And when 9/11 happened I lived in a little toddler bubble barely aware of what was going on outside. It was too difficult to do my job otherwise.

    I do feel though, I am rather ignorant of what is happening in the world. But my stress levels and outlook are the healthier for it.

    Alison Golden wrote on February 24th, 2011
  11. Very good post, Mark.

    You know, of all things, I would think that this is one of the biggest differences between our world and Grok’s. Grok’s world view must have been very narrow. He was generally focused on staying alive and protecting/supporting his family.

    I’m not saying we should neglect everything around us, but I do think that we’re happier when we focus on our own families and work. In fact, I’d argue that a lot of emotional problems in our modern world come about because of our tendency to compare ourselves to people and situations that we personally never interact with at all.

    Back in Grok’s day, people died tragically all the time — by falling off cliffs, through deadly interactions with animals, etc. — but it just wasn’t a concern of Grok’s. He didn’t have anyone telling him about the person a few miles down the road who was devoured by a saber-toothed tiger. It didn’t concern him, and he didn’t know about it, so he didn’t worry about it.

    I guess the lesson is to focus on today, focus on your work, focus on your loved ones. Seems that’s what human brains and emotions evolved to do.

    Hansel wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • Wow Hansel, you nailed it…perfectly….”focus on today, focus on your work, focus on your loved ones….” Very wise post, thank you!!! Cable news shows have disrupted my life,along with the “local news”, that is nothing more than “local murders/suicides/missing persons/abandoned kids, etc., “. Thanks for a meaningful, thoughtful post! :)

      Kathy wrote on March 2nd, 2011
  12. I do not enjoy watching the news on TV. I do enjoy reading the news online. I can filter reading the news much easier than I can with visual and audio stimulation. Reading information online is a form of mental exploration. For me it’s a way to pass time at work at a desk. Lately I have found that I am happier when I explore for new music than when I explore for political concepts/realities. Thanks for the post!

    Adam wrote on February 24th, 2011
  13. This is why I killed my television 3 years ago and have not once looked back. And amazingly, I have more time for so many real, actual, productive, great things.

    Do it people. Kill the TV.

    Gabriel Syme wrote on February 24th, 2011
  14. Well Don Henley had it right all the way back in 1982… I remember when I was a kid in the 70′s that someone did a study saying more people were worried about violent crime and particularly kidnapping of their children, it turned out that the FBI stats at the time said the risk was the same or lower than 30 years prior but that people’s fears were amplified by local and national TV news. When I had kids of my own about a decade ago I did some research into the FBI stats and guess what, they haven’t changed much in the last 30 years, so effectively no change in 60 years but the instant reporting and obsessive focus make a lot of people worried needlessly…

    We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
    comes on at five
    She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam
    in her eye
    It’s interesting when people die-
    Give us dirty laundry

    When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
    We all know that Crap is King

    Corin wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • Is the head dead yet?

      I have to agree with you. My boyfriend was in broadcasting for 40 years and he loves that song because in his experience “it’s true”.

      I myself hate to watch the news. Everyone seems so phony and the stories seem irrelevant for the most part. Every time the news comes on it’s the same old thing: An apartment caught fire, a kid’s gone missing, somebody got shot, and some politician is corrupt (of course they are…they’re politicians). If you watch it just one day, you’ll get the gist of it for the rest of the month.

      StillWild wrote on February 24th, 2011
  15. I have a TV behind me at work playing CNN all day! It’s a bit more news than I like, but I’m at least happy it’s not Fox ;)

    I remember 8 years ago though, there was all this scary stuff on the news, telling us to buy plastic sheeting to seal up our homes from a biological attack, etc. I felt really freaked out by all of it, and it was all for nothing. It’s definitely tough to stay informed without feeling like you have to live in fear!

    Julia wrote on February 24th, 2011
  16. Good post. As a news junkie, the idea of our minds not being able to process all the pain and suffering we can expose ourselves to has weighed on me for quite awhile. I’ll have to borrow your line about Atlas, that’s exactly how I feel sometimes. Empathy is a double-edged sword.

    SalParadise wrote on February 24th, 2011
  17. I love this topic! We haven’t watched T.V. in years. Well, I lied, I think we rented maybe a handful of movies during that time. The first time I noticed how TV affected me was when I couldn’t fall asleep after an ER one time. I started to listen to my body and what it really craved was peace and quiet at night. The news doesn’t do anything for me except make me very anxious and on edge!

    Sometimes I think I am like an Ostrich with it’s head in the sand, but I am a much happier and saner person. I am in control of the things that I can really control, those things that are important to me, keeping my family well fed, healthy and safe.

    I do get my news online and through twitter, I just usually browse the headlines, and if it doesn’t involve me, I pay no attention to it! I am much happier and freer for it. Keep up the great posts!

    Amy Todd wrote on February 24th, 2011
  18. Great post!

    I don’t think it’s just the news, but as commenters above mentioned, also the WAY news is presented. Visual, aural and linguistic rhetoric affects us just as much as the all-too-often negative content of news shows. It’s in the movies and the television shows we watch as much as it’s in the news…and while some might argue that the ethics of being well-informed makes the news more of a sticky-wicket, I would encourage all of us to take the time to gauge the TOTAL emotional effect of all the media we consume.

    I have the same reaction to negative news as I do to watching too much CSI or other crime-type shows.

    Back when I was in grad school and working full-time, there were nights that all I wanted to do was veg in front of the tv. I became a die-hard Law & Order addict, and it took me a while to make the connection between sleeping poorly and general malaise after an evening of watching a run of L&O. Then, when L&O (the original) got pulled, I started supplementing (like all good addicts!) with CSI, or Criminal Minds. Those shows were even worse in terms of using disturbing imagery, and ramping up the emotional effect of the violence with music, etc.. My sleeping issues got worse. I finally cut myself off, and haven’t been able to go back, because the effects are too marked. Also, I get mad at the techniques employed to really put the emotional screws to the viewer.

    Don’t even get me started on the emotional effects of watching reality television. I also find that an energy/emotion cesspool that, like sugar, is all too easy to get hooked on!

    Anyway, coming back to my point, I love watching the news, and like to stay well-informed. At the same time, I’m learning to be sensitive to emotional cues of overload. For me, I would rather pass on the negative “entertainment” media (i.e. crime shows) and take what I can of the news. I guess you could call it emotionally-balanced media, lol.

    mox wrote on February 24th, 2011
  19. I think it’s normal to feel discouraged about the state of the world, but the things you are describing are not normal responses.

    The problem is not the news shows, but that most people don’t think for themselves.

    Anyone even remotely intelligent will not watch mainsteam news at all if it’s avoidable. He’ll get his facts from more objective sources. If necessary, he is quite able to tune out the irrelevancies, hype, melodrama and cheesy anchors of mainstream news.

    If a man feels “helplessness” after watching a news program, it’s because he knows on some level that he is using it as a substitute for actual thought.

    It’s not a secret that most people walk around with a low level of anxiety, because they have defaulted on the responsibility of independent thought. By watching news programs, it makes their anxiety seem “normal” and feeds into their escape from reality.

    In other words, the news show confirms their view of reality: an unintelligible, chaotic mess with disaster looming on the horizon.

    Mark S wrote on February 24th, 2011
  20. News is much like food.

    If you consume a lot of “junk news” laden with added emotion but with little intelligent content, your mental health may suffer. However, if you consume “real news” with insight and analysis that engages your brain, it will make you more aware of our world, and broaden your mind.

    Tim wrote on February 24th, 2011
  21. I try to get the update only once on any new big story. Watching after that gets repetitive and boring even when they get new “expert” commentators rehasing the same stuff. Sometimes it’s good to view news from different sources like BBC or Al Jazera that are not so USA centric to see what else is happening in the world besides the big over-covered US story.

    Curmujeon wrote on February 24th, 2011
  22. Iv’e given up reading the papers and watching the TV especially TV now.. the depressing news far outweighs the good stories.
    But I still need to release my chains from the computer ( yes Facebook) and my cell phone and I will be good to go!
    Raymond

    Raymond-ZenMyFitness wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • I quit Facebook several months back. I don’t miss it one bit and am certainly better off without.

      ‘Facebook’ actually comes up as a spelling error on MDA.

      I like that. Lol

      Joe wrote on February 24th, 2011
  23. Nice post Mark. I can’t remember the last time I watched the news. Mostly what I watch these days are Yo Gabba Gabba (love Jack Black’s guest appearance!) or the Upside Down Show. Comes with the territory of having young children in the house. The Upside Down Show, in particular, will lift anyone’s mood!

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on February 24th, 2011
  24. Great post, Mark.
    I gave up on TV news a long time ago. Now I just follow the BBC on the net. That way, if I am interested in a subject I can click on that headline and learn more but it is not the steady barrage of news coming AT you as is the case with TV.

    I agree about the community becoming larger. I sat there the other night with tears running down my face watching the footage from ChristChurch. There are a lot of Kiwis here on the forums who I consider to be my e-friends but there was absolutely nothing I could do about what I was seeing. I think it’s that helplessness that is the worst. If Grok’s tribe mate was injured or died at least he could be there to help or console. In the modern world we get all of the anguish but none of the human contact.

    Robin Beers wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • Absolutely agreed, Robin!! I watch all the news about the chaos in the Middle East and I can’t help but to think World War III in the back of my head. No one wants to think or feel this way, but that’s what you get when CNN and their often times dramatic news coverage takes over the tube. It’s news that I may appreciate in some way, shape, or form. But is there anything that I can really do about it besides join a facebook group? I don’t think so :( I tend to get most of my news from twitter and the web now. It’s quick, relevant, and just about what anyone could really need, I think.

      Apolo Troy wrote on February 24th, 2011
  25. Great Post Mark!

    I agree wholeheartedly with all the sentiments posted above and I have avoided watching news broadcasts for several years due to the emotional impact they were having on my health and wellbeing. The realisation was that if something big enough is happening in the World we will know regardless of whether we tune into a visual horror movie or not.

    I live in Australia and I would have to have been living in a cave in recent months to miss my friends and family discussing the impact of the Queensland Floods, Cyclone Yasi and the Earthquake that just devestated Christchurch. I get to keep up with current affairs without exposing myself to modern day jounalism that is delivered like they are just about to launch a blockbuster movie rather than death and destruction.

    Choice is the key here. The remote is in your hands:) (or in my household in my husbands!!)

    Carol wrote on February 24th, 2011
  26. In my teenage years I went to see a lot of movies, some of them very violent. I was a very sensitive youngster and some of these films emotionally affected me and I believe hurt me. My parents also used television as a babysitter, so I had way more than my share of the boob tube.

    I no longer watch TV “news” – which is just “if it bleeds it leads” crap. I also don’t watch any of the news talk shows – the ones who masquerade as news analysis that are really just verbal fist fights designed to get the viewer riled up.

    None of it is news, none of it is journalism, none of it is worthy of my time.

    Is it harmful? Very much so.

    I also do not watch very violent films or TV anymore. The damage is done and I don’t need to expose myself to any more. That said, I am a sc-fi/fantasy gal and the cartoon violence of an Iron Man or Star Trek or even Matrix doesn’t affect me. I won’t go to any war movies or the ubiquitous “woman in peril” or “slasher” type of film. Many filmmakers use violence-porn in their films. It’s sickening.

    HillSideGina wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • The same is true for sports nowadays. Just as sensation and faux-controversial, meant to argue both sides and get everyone riled up.

      Gabriel Syme wrote on February 24th, 2011
      • Oh I so agree… I used to watch alot of horror movies, and now I can’t stand the thought…. I am traumatized for days afterwards if I do.

        Mary wrote on February 24th, 2011
  27. this is very true. and it’s amazing how it works.

    with the Christchurch earthquake, I’ve been encouraging my students to avoid media. Just avoid it. Don’t read headlines, don’t look at images in particular. Why? because it makes them more distressed.

    instead, i suggest things that they can do — meditate and pray for the people; donate blood; put together care packages that can be delivered by the red cross and salvation army; and most importantly, take care of themselves.

    i don’t know how many are following this advice, but since the eq, we have only watched one video and read the occasional report that has come through FB when a friend is reporting in on their situation. but we have also avoided violent movies. through our “netflix” we have district 9 and doubt. i’m not interested in either right now because of handling the emotional situation of so many clients, practitioners, friends, and so on.

    i need peace and a break. so, we have gone silent on the “news” for right now.

    Zoebird wrote on February 24th, 2011
  28. Ever notice how most news stations wrap up with a cute story after they’ve bombarded you with death and misery for 30 minutes? They’re aware of the psychology and don’t want to depress their viewers too much. Truth is there’s just as much good news out there, it’s just not worth reporting about from a ratings standpoint. Sadly, “Grandmother hit by car” makes a better headline than “Grandmother helped across street”.

    Want to stay in touch without having a minor case of post traumatic stress from all the depressing stories? First, don’t watch the news on TV. Scan the headlines on news.google.com and only read the full story if it catches your interest.

    In other words, choose your battles and remember folks, there are just as many brave, kind, heroic, generous, virtuous things happening out there all the time. They’re just not as good for ratings.

    Primal Palette wrote on February 24th, 2011
  29. We killed our TV several years ago, not only to rid ourselves of depressing news, but also the incessant pharmaceutical ads. I now realize I do not have to know every bad thing that happens in this world. I am in a simpler place that way and better able to deal with things that directly impact me and my family.

    Wendy wrote on February 24th, 2011
  30. I read the news today, oh boy.

    rob wrote on February 24th, 2011
  31. Its funny you mention this. I watched the late news the other night for the first time in recent memory and I was amazed at how people subject their self to it every night.

    Its just crime, nutrition scare, local dirty restaurants, mean people that hate you, all this on repeat.

    Ill stick to just watching the NFL network, haha.

    Gary Deagle wrote on February 24th, 2011
  32. We all know television is crap. Does anyone have an opinion on educating yourself on current events and worldly affairs in the general and its effect on the pysche?

    SalParadise wrote on February 24th, 2011
  33. I like The Economist and New Scientist.

    Matt Chantry wrote on February 24th, 2011
    • Yes, let’s talk about alternatives to TV news, which (I agree) is just terrible.

      I love Mark’s suggestion that “We’d do better … spending less time staying on top of each trivial update and devoting more time to discussing, reflecting, and thoughtfully acting on the major issues and events that we feel require our attention.” But how do we do that? What sources do Mark’s readers use?

      Like Matt, I enjoy the Economist. Where do others turn for intelligent news and commentary?

      A Reader wrote on February 25th, 2011
      • I have read a lot of the comments above (and below), and this is the first inquisitive comment that, I think, focuses on how to manage our responsibility to ourselves in this modern society. Thank you for starting a conversation on what I think is the most important idea in Mark’s post.

        I agree with many that mondern news delivery can often be considered terrorism, invading our homes and disturbing our peace. But I disagree with the strategy of “burying our heads in the sand.” Though this strategy is a means of short-term gratification, we effectively create more problems for ourselves by ignoring the fact that we are responsible to our community (whether you define community as local, county, state, country, global).

        It is true, Grok did not have to deal with the dismal global politics, tragedy and disaster that we have to fathom after a hard day’s work, but Grok also did not benefit from having a community the size of the globe. Though we, the community here that follow Mark’s Daily Apple, attempt to live a lifestyle as primal as possible, we cannot ignore the fact that we are still active cogs in this larger community.

        Avoiding the trivial updates is a way to reduce the amount of unnecessary anxiety-ridden inundation that is piped through many news media platforms. Instead, we devote time to true discussion/action of events that we consider to be important to our ability to protect the healthy (and happy) function of ourselves, our family/friends, and larger communities.

        How do we do that? Where do we turn for intelligent news and commentary? What sources can we rely on? I follow the example of my forefathers (quite literally, my grandfather), and I wake up early, travel to my local coffee spot and cozy up to the other old-timers that are awaiting to discuss whatever it is that you want to discuss. Mind you, I am a 25-year old woman who is admittedly not very worldly. But I find that these discussions are the most informed. To sit down, open your mind to a topic, exchange sources and spirited debate, to solidify and/or question your beliefs, and to be informed of issues you might have known actually affect you… real news.

        And I walk away from these discussions relatively anxiety-free. I am often spurred to do more research, to look into options for my own personal action to affect an issue if I feel so inclined, etc.

        Being proactive and aware in your consumption of news and activity within your community, with the same effort that I approach a primal diet and primal activity, you are no longer a victim of it. Intelligent news is not found on the shelves (next to the Doritos and Twinkies), it is grown in local gardens of community knowledge.

        Jess G wrote on February 25th, 2011
  34. It’s very difficult to do but I force myself to not pay any attention to things I can’t do anything about. For the sake of my own sanity I just don’t watch the news anymore.

    John wrote on February 24th, 2011
  35. And add to the emotional upset, the physiological and neurological changes that the technology is inflicting. How much ADD and ADHD is induced by technology? Anyone read The Shallows??

    Christine wrote on February 24th, 2011
  36. I have not watched TV for about 5 years now. Best decision I ever made. I get my news when I want it from the internet.

    Kitty wrote on February 24th, 2011
  37. Watching the news for me is like watching a train wreck… over and over again. I noticed that if I watch it every day I end up feeling sad, angry, fearful, paranoid and forget all of the amazing things that happen in life daily. I do have a feed reader on my phone so once a week I usually just scan through all the headlines but try to avoid details unless it looks like a positive story.

    Mary wrote on February 24th, 2011
  38. The modern media does thrive on the shock factor of every story. But as Mark puts it, there is still something to be said about being informed. We still need to know what’s happening in our world and what our elected officials are up. Speaking as an American, it is our right and duty to be informed and try to do our part.
    It can be quite stressful though. I cringe when I watch the latest reports and see what new war my govt. is planning to send me to.
    In the end however, the one thing that we ultimately have controll over is our bodies. I don’t know about anyone else but my Primal journey in life has felt so liberating.
    I hope everyone can take even a small role to be truly informed but still find piece in knowing that even if you can’t stop world hunger or war, you can change and mold yourself for the better.

    EC wrote on February 24th, 2011
  39. I agree that the news is depressing and sensationalized in America, but how can we initiate or be part of change? Knowledge is power and if we bury our heads to what is going on locally, nationally, and globally we won’t be able right the wrongs before it’s too late! The environmental outlook in the news often makes me cry, but it also causes me to look at what I can do to lessen my footprint and advocate for causes I believe in. I guess you could say I’m divided….TV is evil, good news reporting is necessary!

    andrea wrote on February 24th, 2011
  40. I am much happier and much less stressed when I do not watch the news. Ignorance is bliss (at least in this scenario).

    Dawn wrote on February 24th, 2011

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