Two weeks ago, I decided to perform an experiment regarding exposure to news media. Sort of like a laboratory experiment but without the test tubes, frog autopsies, and any science to support my findings. Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).
My first exposure to the news came on March 30, 1981 when I was 11 years old. I had come home from school to find out that President Reagan had been shot. At the time, I didn't really know who Reagan was. I just remember having my eyes glued to the television screen, sitting by myself in the kitchen as the rest of my family continued with their daily lives. Although I don't think I had ever watched the news before that day, I was obsessed with learning every detail about what had happened.
I don't think I watched much television news or paid too much attention to politics again until 10 years later at 2:38 a.m. on January 17, 1991 when U.S. Apache helicopters struck Iraqi forces in Kuwait, which brought on the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. During that war, I couldn't take my eyes off of CNN while the night skies of Baghdad were filled with anti-aircraft fire and explosions. I stayed up for several nights in a row, committed to learning everything I could about smart bombs, scuds and everything that was happening.
At that very moment is when I became a news junkie building up to today where I probably watch news shows, listen to talk radio, and read opinion pieces on average of six hours a day almost daily, pretty pathetic, I know, which leads to my experiment.
As a news junkie I know that the majority of Americans get their news from the 11 o'clock news and top of the hour news breaks from local radio and TV stations. When you know all the facts of a story and spend hours a day researching both sides of an issue, you see how misleading the viewpoint they relay is.
So two weeks ago, I started my experiment. I was going to cut my normal news habits and only expose myself to news that the average person experiences.
Here are a few of my conclusions after two weeks:
My first conclusion is that life is more fun when you don't pay full attention to the news. I spend a lot of my time driving. So instead of driving while listening to talk radio, I switched to music stations. Wow! What an amazing concept. Listen to music that makes you feel good! I found that when the top of the hour news came on, it gave quick sound bytes of the top stories, and no real details about anything, yet who would care because the news is sandwiched between your favorite songs!
Secondly, regarding moral issues, the news bends over backwards to present each side as morally equivalent yet on current events they tend to show things in a more liberal light. For example, the news will give equal time to a cross dresser who wants to be able to work at a kids clothing store as they will the other side's viewpoint. However, regarding Iraq, they will spend their time showing a story about a soldier being killed, and offer no time to all the great accomplishments that soldier and his team were doing to help the people of Iraq.
The third conclusion is that positions sound a lot better with sound bytes. Many activists fight for things that sound great with sound bytes, and sound horrible when you are a news junkie and look beyond the sound byte, which most people never do.
In conclusion, these past two weeks have taught me that the saying "Out of Site, Out of Mind" makes a lot of sense. Whether I am paying attention or not, the major world events will still happen as I have no control over them. So I have a choice, either spend my time letting my blood boil in frustration, or turn the other cheek and enjoy music, laughter and reality television. Since I know so much about current events, I have enjoyed educating friends around me, however unless I am willing to roll up my sleeves and do battle against the other side, it isn't worth the energy exhumed to pay attention.
I just feel bad for the next generation that will be given a world filled with the excrement of activists that covertly change everything great about our society. In 50 years we will not recognize the greatness of America anymore, but we will be gone, as will the sound bytes that got us there, and we will have fully enjoyed ourstay, so who cares?