Wednesday, March 19, 2014

News: A user's guide by Alain De Botton

What is “News”?  

We are bombarded with it 24 hours a day, but do we ever really think about it? Have you ever wondered why it is that certain news items are presented as such?  What is newsworthy about the behaviour of Miley Cyrus, or Justin Bieber?  Ever wonder what political machinations are at work behind the scenes of what is presented as news?  Why are real news stories from another part of the globe often ignored?  What is the 24 hour access to news doing to the ways that news is presented, and how the public receives it?  In a new (surprisingly short) book, The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton answers some of these questions, and examines what the onslaught of facts without any context is doing to our brains.  De Botton examines 25 archtypal stories including a political scandal, a plane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview, and more, and subjects each to careful scrutiny.  

We have to ask ourselves, “ is the news making us stupid?”  De Botton writes, "If you want to make people accepting of the status quo, give them no news at all, or give them so much they'll drown in it. Then, nothing will ever have to change." 

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