“Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens…” The Trap of the News Cycle

breakingnewsalert

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I came back from my trip to the Congressional Baseball game with my friend Vince Miller yesterday and as we came back we pondered and discussed a number of subjects. On of those was how we as Americans allow ourselves to be sucked into the media vortex surrounding any given crisis and how for the media every story is a “breaking news story.”

As we discussed the subject the words of historian Timothy Snyder came to mind. Snyder wrote:

“Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on televised news is “breaking” until it is displaced by the next one. So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean.”

I used to be a cable news junkie. I had CNN, Fox. or MSNBC on constantly, especially whenever a crisis occurred. In addition  to those I would also be checking every news source that I could. My motives we good. I wanted information, but instead I got sucked into stories that has no resolution and were quickly replaced with other stories. When I read Snyder’s words in his book On Tyranny they struck me to the core, because they rang true. The adrenaline rush and hyper-vigilence that I experienced from the continuous onslaught of each breaking news crisis wore me out and left me exhausted without any resolution.

This devotion to breaking news can become as much of an addiction as drugs or alcohol and the result is not good. We become slaves of the news cycle. While I always to to remain informed I now try to do it on my terms and instead of allowing myself to be bombarded by what I see on television. Instead I try to take some time, check the veracity of stories and examine them from different printed viewpoints and wait for more information to come out. By doing this I have found that I don’t get sucked into the news cycle and still live my life, appreciating friends, family, and even my Papillon dogs.

Likewise, by taking in information in this manner I can spend some time thinking about it and examining it in the context of history, philosophy, ethics, and theology without the hype and unrelenting drumbeat of “information” put out by television news. I find this is more helpful and healthy for me than siting in front of the tube as vapid hosts ask arrogant and often as badly informed analysts or talking heads questions of which can only be answered by speculation as the speed of the news cycle does not allow for well thought out answers or for that matter the truth to come out.

Anyway, I am going to be working around the house this weekend and taking some time to reflect on the events of this week as I continue to read through my current stacks of books.

So have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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2 Comments

Filed under News and current events, philosophy

2 responses to ““Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens…” The Trap of the News Cycle

  1. Padre,

    I am like you. I want to keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world but I get so frustrated by the constant barrage of breaking news. I think I just saw on FOX NEWS their breaking news lead that Michael Jackson is still dead…WHAT!!! He has been dead for five years AND he is still dead? Unbelievable, I never saw that one coming. thanks uber…bleach blond hot chick for reading that to me off the teleprompter.

    The real problem is that the news people only know what they know and they only report on what they can get worked up about. How many times in the last week have you seen a real hard news piece of reporting on what is going on between Qatar and Saudi? Zero, because they dont have the actual depth of understanding to know the difference between the Sunni and Shia and especially the ability to know the difference between the sects within the Sunni side. That is a potentially really important issue going on that could directly effect the USA.

    Not a peep. But this just in…Michael Jackson is still dead…

    Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for allowing me a little levity at Michael Jackson’s expense.

    rob

    • padresteve

      Poor Michael Jackson. Your comments about the Fox “breaking news” reminded me of the President’s comments about Frederick Douglass a couple of months back “he’s doing some great things.”

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