I try to avoid watching the news because I find it too depressing. The ratio between good and bad news being reported by broadcast media is seriously imbalanced, in favor of the bad. But like a passer-by who stumbled upon a road accident, I am often unable to resist the urge to watch the news on TV. I like information. I like to be informed, for better or worse.
As a discerning consumer of information, I take it from a wide range of sources to ‘expand and balance’ my perception and opinions. I have learned not to take things at face value right away. I have cultivated the habit of looking at the reasons and contexts at play behind events and incidents. I have come to understand that good and evil are not absolute but more likely relative states.
However, all of these learning can prove useless in the face of the fodder that’s being shoved down our throats by the media these days.
Since when are domestic squabbles national news? The warring couple might be both celebrities but why are their mundane affairs covered as if it were of national importance? Can’t talk your daughter out of a relationship with someone you don’t approve? Here’s the solution: hold a press conference and malign everyone except yourself for being such a terrible parent!
Until recently, I didn’t think that we have this culture of washing dirty linens in public. I thought this was confined to Americans, with their indignant glorification of victimization, as seen in some of their popular talk shows (Jerry Springer Show, Geraldo, Ricki Lake Show, etc). So when the format of TV5’s ‘Face-to-Face’ surfaced in another network’s shows, I came to the sad realization that as it turned out, we are also susceptible to this condition.
Our Muslim brothers are dying in Sabah. The means of counting our votes might have changed, but the candidates in this election have mostly remained the same. Suicide has claimed another young person, putting public education under scrutiny. The church continues to meddle in political affairs. The country’s so-called economic gains has not trickled down to sectors that matter.
“Nothing important happened today.” King George III, unaware that Americans had declared independence, wrote this in his diary on July 4, 1776. Communication technology has changed dramatically since then. But with the quality of stories that our mass media has chosen to foist upon us, it becomes safer to say that, indeed, nothing important happened today.