You May Need A News Fast


I am recommended News Fasts a lot these days.

I don’t think people have a clue what is going on in their brains and spirits when they watch television news.

Watching television News is like hypnosis, but with even less control about the kind of content that washes over your brain.

You need only get a different “station” to be sure its viewpoint will reinforce what you already believe to be true.  I mean, whether you’re “conservative” or “Liberal,”  you should have no trouble choosing a news outlet that will make sure that when you are done watching, you will have precisely the same viewpoint that you did before you watched that newscast.

But wait, there’s more.   I started reading things by Neil Postman about 15 years ago.  I credit him with getting me to stop falling asleep with the TV news about 15 years ago, when I would watch it from bed while my husband worked at something or other on the kitchen table in his feverish attempt to advance my lackluster until recently career.  I would awake with a start with loud commercials and have visions of murder, rape, and pillaging in my dreams.

Here is one of his earlier solo books.

I credit him with the beginning of my maturation as a media viewer.

I had long known that everybody had agendas.  But agendas for the media were pushing people to keep watching.  Giving people sheer delight at the idea they are “staying informed;” a delight which included such unlikely folks as my father of blessed memory in his terminal years confined to bed in a Nursing Home, with a combination of bipolar illness and dementia.

Recently, I have been recommending various forms of “News Fasts” for my patients.

The shortest and simplest are nothing but requests to abstain from indulging in television news for 30 to 45 minutes each evening.

What discussing our president’s wrongdoings or brilliant doings have accomplished or demolished, such information is clearly NOT conducive to sleep.

Honestly, I have singlehandedly cured several; cases of insomnia with nothing other than this intervention.

Several of my patients have reported, as I have myself felt, a sense of impotence from watching national news.

I feel increasingly disenfranchised from the folks who wield government power and seem to be the ones making decisions about my life.

As for local news, we have become a bit more of a “world” culture with the internet.  Local News may even be tough to find.  I do remember reading a few years ago that the most of the laws that affect our day-to-day existence are made at the local level.  Yet I hear nothing around me about entities anywhere resembling the “Town Hall Meetings” that were venerated in my childhood in New England.

I want to see more of this kind of model of participatory democracy — a model which I refuse to believe has evaporated.

One thing is certain.  I am not going to hear anything about that piece of my daily reality on the evening news.

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