I watch far less network news than I used to, and that is not because of October 27. The continuous barrage of news flashes featuring murder and other violent crimes is just not what I want to have on my mind as I prepare for bed in the evening. It made me wonder if other people feel the same way, and if so, how many people might that be? Could it be possible that our entire mental health and general well-being can be influenced by what appears on the news?
We are a captive audience for any television news. They choose what to report, the order of the stories and how each event will be presented to us. They determine what event merits a reporter on the scene, interviews with emergency personnel or witnesses, and follow up. There is a tease about the upcoming weather, with the forecast delayed until a significant part of the broadcast has been aired. Sports are usually broadcast last, with a closing feel good story, surrounded by at least six minutes of commercials. But how many of us want to see this nonstop barrage of negative news?
Imagine if the evening news featured ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things, with the last five minutes set aside for all of the negative events of the day? I daresay that our outlook would improve significantly. I do not know if there has ever been a study correlating the news events with similar, copycat events that take place at a later date because the perpetrator(s) saw it on the news and were inspired to act, but I would not be surprised, knowing that there were threats to other synagogues in Ohio and Florida in the aftermath of October 27. The news provided encouragement for others, albeit in a negative way. Could not the news do the same thing in a positive vein? If we were to regularly hear of good people performing wonderful things to help others, might that news inspire others also to do good? Would the national psyche improve with a regular, daily diet of good? Is there a news station or network brave enough to reverse this continuous downward spiral of negativity? Are you listening to my proposal for good, or are you so stuck in a negative feedback loop that you cannot disengage?
I’ve chosen to disengage. I can get a quick summary of the day’s news, weather forecast and sports scores all on-line. I choose not to see and hear all the bad news. I choose to do good despite the news.