The news is something that’s been around since the dawn of man. Everybody likes to hear or spread the word about something that’s going on. Today, the news is on many channels and many times throughout the day. There is a specific habit, mostly within the older population, of turning on the daily news on television after getting home from work. I find the news to be detrimental to our moods and mental health. I think it is especially damaging during this time upon arriving home from work. It is somewhat of a mystery to me as to why it continues to occur. I imagine it must be out of habit, or something passed down from parents from a different time. I think this trend is something to be addressed. Why do we watch the news?
There are a few reasons I can assume why someone would want to watch the news after work. At work, we spend eight to ten hours going through our routine. We do what we’re expected to do. We have responsibilities. In theory, work should be a somewhat strenuous or consuming part of life on a daily basis. Turning on the news could be a way to relax. It’s just putting something quickly on the television, to look at while we do nothing. This can be a way to decompress from a long day of being professional at work. When we get home, we may be tired out or excited to be away from work. The news can be a way to reaffirm that we are officially home now, and watching TV rather than “being at work”. All of these could be logical thought processes for flipping on the local news. So we’re finally home and we’ve turned on the news. What does the news offer?
Despite being on multiple channels and multiple times a day, the news always seems to be the same. The news is stories about people dying or being injured in terrible and unusual accidents. The more unusual or terrible, the more likely it will be featured and receive more on screen time. The news flies through numerous daily murders or executions. There are stories about people being robbed of their possessions, and people being arrested for committing strange crimes. These can signal feelings of mistrust and paranoia. There are stories of neglect and unexpected tragedy, perhaps a force of nature. These may trigger thoughts about the loss of hope. There are stories that focus on people’s ignorance. They showcase people doing things for reasons hard to explain, or for no reason at all. These may trigger a loss of faith in humanity. The daily newscast showcases people on their worst day doing their worst things. This really just shows us how bad things can get and how bad things really are for some people. All this does is evoke fear, loathing, and misunderstanding.
These stories and features have even more of an impact because we know that they are all true. These events are being presented to everyone who has a TV. We as a viewer knows that everyone across the state or country is also viewing and accepting these horrors. Any man, women or child can witness these stories being reported on, any day of the week. Worst of all is that we are all aware of these stories and issues, and yet they still reoccur and are reported on every day. We are taking the information in and bearing its weight on our minds, but we aren’t doing enough or anything for anything to actually change. So what effect do these news stories and their reality have on an individual?
Witnessing all of these terrible things in all their reality can only conjure a certain type of thought or feeling. I don’t believe any one of them is positive in any way. The least of which would likely be sadness for the stories victims. More likely, seeing rampant death and injustice brings out feelings of frustration and disappointment with humanity as a whole. Some of the stories are so horrible, that we are left feeling shocked or in fear that the situation could spill over into our own lives. Even political or social issue stories can lead to harmful feelings of outrage and distrust in others. In summation, none of the things that are plentiful on the news on a daily basis evoke any positive emotions to the average person. If these are the feelings we experience when watching this content daily, what good does it do for us?
Watching these things, I suppose, would take our minds off work. How could we be thinking about our computer freezing earlier when someone is crying on the screen in front of us about their mother being murdered? This could be a strong argument for putting on the news and exposing ourselves to its negativity. Another view could be that watching the news brings out strong emotions. This is true. Whether it’s empathy for the victims in the stories or anger towards the suspects in a robbery, these stories do arouse feelings one way or another. This could be a kind of change up from being professional and focused on work all day. It could be a way to loosen up our emotions a bit and feel something. The problem is, I can’t really think of a pleasant or helpful emotion I’ve ever gotten watching the news. Even when they report on a killer being executed for their crimes, it is a double-edged sword. It’s still someone being killed and there’s still sorrow surrounding the situation. It also may force us to take a step back and think about whether we should be pleased that someone has been killed.
There are times when the news tries to run a positive story. These unfortunately usually feel very forced. It’s not something lucky or something that’s been pending and finally came through. It’s always a random, good-feeling type story usually affecting one family or individual. There is also usually only one, and they tease it until the end of the newscast. Yes, it may bring out a positive feeling, but it isn’t pure. It’s only to bring out a stronger emotional response from a viewer who’s been subjected to some much terrible immediately preceding it. It’s also disheartening to watch 28 minutes of crime and death, and then in comparison see only a single “good news” story being reported on. So yes, sometimes there is an exception, but it is strategically placed and doesn’t undo all the negativity from the rest of the reports. In fact, it may compound the negativity from the bad stories by showing how little good is really out there. So if day in and day out it’s the same horrible routine, why do we come home and watch it anyway?
I believe a lot of the reason why people consume any sort of news is curiosity. We want to know more. The news is a constant stream of information, that we likely previously didn’t have. By watching the news, we get to peek in on the lives of others in the community and across the world. We want to see how everyone else is doing. This curiosity being fulfilled can serve as a type of entertainment or satisfaction. We are getting more material to keep us busy and reflect on than we would if we minded our own business.
I think another reason could just be a lack of creativity or creative laziness. There are so many other channels, with so much other programming on, that we shouldn’t need the news. The news is always at the same time and on the same channel though; and the content is always the same. Turning on a documentary or a sitcom would require making a choice. Perhaps we’re feeling too lazy or are afraid to turn on the wrong thing. Something other than the news could evoke other feelings that perhaps were not ready for after work. The content may be too fantastic or too engaging. Not everyone enjoys jumping into a story, and contrarily the news presents many stories in short concise format that we can pick up anytime. The truth is that essentially every day, the news is the same.
Lastly, I think many people may watch the news as a way to feel better about themselves. After a long day going through our normal routine, our minds are tired and likely a little strained. This can lead to negative feelings about work and perhaps makes us contemplate “life” or “what we are doing”. An easy way to change those feelings is by watching the terrible things on the news. Seeing other people go to jail or being attacked by an alligator, can give us a weird sense of relief. We are safe in our homes fresh from being responsible at our honest nine to five job. This may give us a sense of security and content. Just knowing that our routine job is there waiting for us tomorrow, rather than the possible danger of committing a crime or the headache of going to court. This makes sense because we all want to do and be well. By comparing ourselves to all the worst days on the news, everything we’re doing seems great. No one can be blamed for this thinking as it’s in human nature to want to be okay, and basically to be the one watching the news, rather than on the news. Is this really a healthy practice though?
Is this routine of watching the mostly negative, redundant news every day a good idea? Is it a wise decision to expose ourselves to all of the extreme content that’s salaciously displayed on the news? Should we be taking in the facts on horrible events that we have no control over? Does exposing ourselves to negative thoughts and feelings for no reason have a benefit? Much of the news has only a small direct effect on us if any. Other than the stress and thoughts it instills; the news is usually about someone or something else. The news reporter may make us believe it could impact us, but that is just to make for a better story. Does watching the deranged things that people have done today help us in any way? Does it improve our day? The only thing I could see is that it gives us relief about our current situation. Otherwise, it’s all just negativity and playing with our emotions, for no reason. It really only impacts us if we watch it. Does seeing others real life misery really make us feel better? If the answer is yes, then can you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I watch people suffering to make myself feel better”? The practice of watching the news is outdated. It doesn’t serve enough of a purpose to us as individuals. Especially after a day at work, when we are very susceptible to having our thoughts and emotions drastically impressed upon. Instead of putting ourselves through the foregone conclusion that comes of watching the news; why not try something different.
There are plenty of options other than watching the news after work. Of course, you could go out and completely avoid the news, but let’s focus on options at home. If we really feel like watching TV, then why not turn on something more fun or pleasing. For example, putting on the next episode of a TV show each day after work. This would have a predictable runtime and usually has a concise ending of some sorts. If the program ends on a cliffhanger, it could even give us something to look forward to after work. The program can be chosen based on what you’re interested in, and therefore you know what to expect when you watch every day. This offers an alternative that you personally chose that has similar parameters to the daily news routine. It would fill your time, entertain you, and allow you to feel or think about something other than work. This would forgo the negativity, and having to witness all the bad things that really have no impact on our daily life. Alternatively, this practice may help us to escape, feel calm, laugh or feel motivated.
Exercise can be a great option after work. It can help relieve the stress of the day. It doesn’t involve any sad stories; you’re making a positive impact on your health. This can also help stir up an appetite, or burn through any leftover energy from the nonstop of the workday. It can be an intense or easy workout; your body will still react to it. Most workouts lead to a positive feeling without having to deal with anything else. In the least, you should feel good knowing that you’ll be looking good from the work you’re now putting in, instead of sitting on the couch.
Similarly, to working out, doing chores can be a rewarding option after work. By doing chores of some sort after work, you are transitioning from work into home life. You are transferring your post work mentality and buzz into making things more comfortable in the house. You are accomplishing something that would have to eventually be done anyway. You’re staying active to burn those extra calories. You’re taking out the bad vibes from the work day on scrubbing a floor or chopping vegetables for dinner. This option doesn’t involve anything that you don’t want it to. This is only negative if you begin doing something and then really don’t feel like doing it. This is an activity that you have complete control over. Afterward, you have the satisfying knowledge that you’ve got “that thing” done and that you did it yourself, therefore making a positive personal impact.
Lastly, there are plenty of ways to relax after a day at work. You can simply sit in silence. This can help slow your breathing and get control of your attitude. You can meditate. This can help you focus on what’s important and reset your mentality to being home. You can reflect on the day’s accomplishments and feel proud of what you’ve done and earned. You can sit and write down the things that you are grateful for today. This can help find perspective, and putt a positive spin on the most trying part of the day. Being calm and decompressing as soon as possible could help you enjoy your leisure time with a clear mind, and possibly go to sleep feeling more peaceful. Even having a conversation with a friend or loved one can be a calming activity. This can draw attention away from the workday and drive home, and focus it on other important aspects or people in your life. The goal of these calming exercises would be to find positivity and happiness and to feel better. None of this, as far as I know, can be achieved by watching the news
I think the routine of watching the news is one that is ingrained in a certain part of society. Today, we can get news instantly, from anywhere with the internet. This is not necessarily a good thing either, but it’s better than the same daily feed at the same time. The news is generally still negative online because “shocking” sells. The good thing about using the internet for news is that we can control the news source and genre that we consume from. This can focus the information we get on a particular topic such as sports, entertainment or even just the weather. Eventually, the daily television news will change, either it will become more sensational to compete with the internet’s easy access, or it will fade away. Regardless, we need to be wary of the effects that reading or watching the news can have on us. There are much better ways to be entertained, healthier ways to decompress and safer ways to get information.