The Media Only Cares About Sensation

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I started reading Hoaxed by Mike Cernovich yesterday, and it provided me with a great context for the last couple of years of fake news. All of it comes and goes so quickly it moves us as a society from one outrage to the next and doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

One of the interviews in there, which I think was with Ryan Holiday, said (paraphrasing): don’t confuse discussion on the news on social media for civic activism. The kind of riled up mentality online doesn’t add anything to civic discourse or doing anything constructive. And I found that to be something sobering.

We’re all online now, all regularly hitting the news stories of the day in one way or another, and it doesn’t seem to do much good for life. What good does even having information on “what might happen to Kavanaugh” do for us? It’s like an adrenaline jolt to get us to worry, keep us focused on things outside of our control, and at the end of the day doesn’t matter.

Even as an online journalist myself, I’ve found myself consuming a lot less news in the last several months, and I’ve been much happier for it. I don’t really want to fill my head with whatever narrative the press wants us to get outraged about today. I don’t want to be outraged at all. It’s not a fun state of being to be in after awhile — it’s very tiring and taxing, and that just slows me down in creating the books I love.

It seems to be the only solution I can offer: turn off the talking heads. I’ve seen it in stats myself a lot on the blog. If I have something happen to me in sci-fi or write about a friend where something terrible is going on and it’s due to politics, views shoot through the roof. If I write about “hey I read these zorro comics” people tune completely out and views go way down. It’s really odd how it happens even over the span of just one article, but it’s there.

Food for thought this morning.

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3 thoughts on “The Media Only Cares About Sensation

  1. I’ve also given up on watching the news, I did that about 2 years ago. I try to watch the local news in the morning to check out the weather babe on Channel 5 and maybe catch the local news, but the minute they veer off into TDS, I turn it off. I think one of the “last straws” for me was when channel 5 was running a story about the “Marine Core Reserve Toy Drive” (sic). How you fark that up in a town that’s all military (San Diego) is beyond me.

  2. Yes, politics are all the rage and when I decided to not do politics on my blog my readership declined. Unless I was talking about lesbians. Or guns. Sometimes lesbians with guns.

    But, I digress. There are a lot of people who still use an RSS reader, which is how I read your blog.

    But, back to the outrage 24×7, I’ve told people who feel stress and worry and admit on the FB feeds that they are overly stressed, to remove themselves from the politics they’ve inserted themselves into, which includes removing themselves from the Outrage Consumption Machines.

    And they just can’t do it. Its like watching a hamster in a maze where sometimes the floor turns into the hamster wheel.

  3. I tell you, Jon, getting off social media and only paying peripheral attention to the news has done wonders for my well-being. I completely understand we’re you’re coming from here. I notice a similar drop-off on engagement on my blog when I post non-political or culture-related posts. I even run experiments to prove this . . .

    Outrage is addictive, and it’s become shorthand for virtue and morality. When there IS no accepted, traditional morality, cultural norms, or sense of identity, outrage is all we’ve got.

    I’ve got to pick up Hoaxed. I can’t wait for the movie!

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