Monday, December 5, 2011

The News

I grew up in a family that watched the evening news so religiously, that the timer on the television was set to turn the t.v. on at 6:00 to the news channel automatically.  The news anchors kind of felt like they were part of our extended family; I think I actually thought the main anchor was my uncle for a while when I was really young.  When my sisters and I were given free run on the video camera recorder to quell summer holiday boredom, we recorded hours and hours of made-up newscasts.  Over the last two or three years, I haven't watched very many newscasts.  I think it's a combination of factors: giving up cable television, and having young children in the house whom I don't necessarily want exposed to all the things that show up on the news.  Perhaps I was just oblivious to certain things when I was young, but it seems that the visual array of "news" nowadays is much more likely to need shielding from young eyes.  The other day I noticed the sportscast reporting the results of the latest UFC match, including videoclips of the fight.  The entertainment (or was it perhaps a commercial?) had Victoria's Secret models walking the runway wearing angel wings and precious little else, while my three year old said "Look, Mommy, angels!"  I know I'm verging on sounding prudish here.  Perhaps what I notice more about watching the news now is that I'm a much more anxious person when I do watch the news on a regular basis.  I know I'm the type of person who is generally more prone to anxiety than the average person, so maybe it's just me.  But doesn't it sometimes feel like the evening news could be subtitled "Things to be afraid of" or "Things to make you angry, or, at best, jaded with the world"?  Are we better off not watching "the news"; are we better off not occupying our minds with a list of things that a group of individuals thinks we need to know about?
Or, as some people suggest, do we have some kind of duty to be aware of as many things as possible that are going on around the world?  After all, if we didn't know about the drought in Africa, how could we help?   If we didn't know about the latest toy recall, how would we know to take away the toxic toy our kid has been sucking on for the last six months?  Thoughts?

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