Dominated by doom, drama is the worst media bias and addiction of our times
‘Dog bites man is no news; man bites dog is news.’ When too common, it’s not news. A dog that doesn’t bite is not news at all. Good news is no news.
My mother’s father used to say: ‘No news so big, or it’s dead in three days.’ (In Dutch, it rhymes: Geen nieuwtje zo groot of het is in drie dagen dood.)
We talk about the terrible depersonalization and media bias of social media. Much more serious is the way the news is dominated by doom.
It never makes the front page or is appreciated that life is mostly good, and most of us get old despite it all and, by and large, have a good time. Until we discover this underreporting as bad. That would be newsworthy!
I marched in Jerusalem, and everything was nice and peaceful. It did not even make the news. But when three people block traffic, it’s all over.
After the October 7 pogrom, there seemed a lull in the murders in Israeli-Muslim quarters. Until I blogged about it, it was not even reported.
Speaking of October 7, hardly anyone writes about all the people who escaped the mass murders. People on vacation elsewhere, people who lost no one. People without horror stories, it’s just not interesting.
Much is published about the Six Million who were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Hardly any mention of the twelve million Jews who survived unscratched. Unless they’re ‘Survivors’ with dreadfully emotional stories or heroes who surpassed the suffering and lived well, in the shadow of it.
Why mourn death if life is so terrible? Well, the secret truth is that life is mostly good, comfortable, enjoyable, for most people, most of the time.
History used to be only about leaders and the rich. The common person was only discovered recently. Yet, life’s lack of misery stays seriously underreported. If you’d believe the news, we all agonize constantly.
Those who get terribly depressed from all the negativity get in the news. And they receive medical drugs to shut them up. It’s logical they lost hope, but we don’t want to know. We keep consuming the drama. It’s like the medical puzzle of why people get high blood pressure. In the West, we take in ten (!) times more salt than our bodies need. But only when people get sick, that is news; we are uninformed about those who, nevertheless, stay healthy. Cutting down on salt is mostly trivial for those not sick (yet).
Putting things in proper perspective and giving (maintaining) hope has nothing to do with being naïve or ignoring problems. Be real and honest.
All the negativity is by design, to keep us passive and away from activism.
Postscript from Friday: Today, I slept in, and, awake for fifteen minutes, I still didn’t have a new idea. That’s good news because my keyboard can’t keep up. And I’m finishing my book about the October War and can’t use too many new ideas. Things will probably go completely wrong again on Shabbat, but I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Shabbat shalom.