I am not a whiz in the world of text, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Why say something in 140 characters when you can blog 1400 words? 🙂
Some people love slow food. Well, I love slow media. I am not a Luddite: I love technology. It’s great to be alerted to a story or a special moment with a photo or a phrase. But I want the whole story!
When I was a kid (pre-Internet, pre-cable TV even) a rare news story would generate a “news flash.” The program we were watching on TV would be interrupted by an announcement about the news: the death of a world leader or a tornado warning, maybe. This was done only in the most extreme circumstances. To find out more information, we had to wait for the twice-nightly TV news, turn on the radio to get a news update on the half-hour, or wait for the next morning’s newspaper. How archaic!
Some stories were deemed to be so important that they replaced regular TV programming for days on end – when I was very young, I remember the Watergate scandal taking over the airwaves. Mostly, though, we had to wait for details and explanations. By the time we heard the whole story, hours later or overnight, the situation had often been resolved.
The first time this changed for me was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. I was a student, between classes. Another student came in and told a group of us what had happened. Everyone spent the rest of the day waiting for news updates and feeling bad together. Yet, I felt myself getting irritated when students and staff entering or leaving the school constantly provided updates with no “meaning.” This broadcaster said this, that channel believes that – yet no additional information was known. The cause of the accident wasn’t revealed until June when a commission report was released.
That was my first taste of breaking news. To this day, it’s a format I dislike, despite the ascent of CNN and CBC News Network. Yes, I like to know what is happening – some time that day, or even that hour. What grates, for me, is the continuous, reckless speculation. In the absence of evidence, I am fine with stating the possibilities. I’m not fine with the press choosing a “favourite” explanation and boosting it – especially knowing their choice could be swayed by ratings. They might choose an explanation based on what a celebrity believes, or what a passionate bystander believes, or what happened in a similar incident last year.
In those situations, I turn off the feed and wait for information to come to light. I might pore over the details in my own mind and imagine what could have happened, and I might chat about it with family or colleagues. But I don’t need to be the first one in the room to hear the update and inform everyone else.
Lately I feel that News is a competition. Everyone wants to be the first to text, tweet and post the breaking stories so their friends can say “What happened?” and they get to explain it. “What – you didn’t hear?” I suppose the early bird does win, though – they get to put their own spin on the story and influence how everyone else feels.
My favourite way of absorbing the news is very old-fashioned: reading a feature story on an in-depth web site or in an actual magazine that explores the origins of a story and how it developed. Like why is there unrest in the Middle East? Or what do we really know about climate change? And I don’t hesitate to read a whole book!
Like most people, I have pet topics. I firmly stand for the scientific method, so I don’t put much faith in personal anecdotes that are meant to persuade. Like the supposed vaccine and autism connection. I am happy to read about transformative experiences in which scientific knowledge isn’t necessary – such as emotional responses to art and music. It is having evidence and ignoring it that bothers me, whether it is Obama’s birth certificate or the evolution of human beings. I understand people’s heartfelt need to make sense of mystifying things that happen to them or others. I just have no need to embrace the “truth” of alien landings or the “fakery” of the moon landing. I’m a skeptic, not in the sense of disbelieving everything, but in the sense of reserving judgment until questions are answered. I don’t need to wait forever for perfect data. Always just a little more than I know now 🙂
I am delighted when a friend posts a picture from a concert and says the band was A-MAY-ZZZING! because I get to share for a moment the joy they felt in music. But when someone posts for the 50,000th time that wheat is bad for everybody, I am just annoyed.
I don’t go around in an ill humour because everyone else’s methods of shouting the news are not my style. I’m used to it. It rolls off me. But I haven’t succumbed!
Instead of (or in addition to) keeping up on today’s breaking news, I challenge you to think about and find out about stories like these:
- What is the current status of self-driving cars?
- Why is everyone concerned about honey bees?
- What is Apple gaining by taking away the headphone jack on the iPhone 7?
- Which birds are the finalists for Canada’s national bird?
- What’s with Rihanna styling herself after FKA Twigs?
- What goes on at Burning Man?
- What is happening with the evil Monsanto? Will more evil ensue?
- Who sings the catchy song that goes “now we’re stressed out”?
Such are the workings of my buzzy brain 🙂 How do you like to get your news?