When Does Media Matter? Expectations vs. Reality
Innocently enough, far from on purpose, I had built a habit of chasing the news rabbit down the never ending rabbit hole on my iPad at night while lying in bed. I would tell myself, “It’s important to be aware of the news and current worldview because… (fill in the blank).”
The reason I refer to this as a negative habit is due to the initial commitment of half an hour turning into 45 minutes, then an hour, then two hours, then looking over at my digital clock on the nightstand and finding I had sacrificed hours of sleep only to end up in a worse place than I began.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel it’s important to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world. I’m not sticking my head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on around me. I simply have decided to be more selective of how and when I consume my news.
We can all agree that there is an inordinate amount of noise in the air when it comes to politics and news. The challenge, as in most things in life, is to shovel through the compost to find the struggling flower. Of course in this case, the flower represents a budding truth.
How do we get to this flower without being completely covered in various forms of manure normally requiring a reliable set of boots to wade through the muck and the smell?
I have to say it’s become a challenge for me to find a source of information that’s not emotionally charged in one direction or another. Finding the middle ground, or the truth, has become a painful game of “Where’s Waldo?”
Waldo does a pretty good job of avoiding me. I discovered an application for my phone which presents me with multiple reporting sources for news events, letting me decide on the source and the headline to follow toward the truth. Sometimes I’ll read opposing commentary on the same event and struggle to find out if either one has a true concept of the events that actually occurred. The only way to truly know if the reporter has firsthand knowledge of the event is if you were standing there beside them when the event occurred. And even then, you may want to check their credentials to make sure it’s even them.
If you’re still reading this, you’ve joined me on a small quest down my own rabbit hold in writing this. I apologize for leading you in this direction—only to stop in the middle of the path and turnaround to offer a blank stare and questioning shrug in your direction.
With all the information overload in the world—along with the varied perspectives on reporting it—I would suggest you choose your rabbit holes wisely. Make sure you don’t venture so deep into your rabbit hole that you lose touch with both reality and your emotions. Just as important, choose wisely “when” you consume this information. Filling your mind right before bed and then falling asleep and letting your mind do with the information what it will seems as dangerous as handing a hot iron to a child. I’m hoping that this vision and your humanity made you cringe.
I’ll leave you with this final thought. “Be wary of the things you chase. If they stop running and turn around, are you prepared to embrace the rabbit?”
Also published on Medium.