Thursday, February 06, 2014

Modern societies are still at the dawn of understanding what kind of news they need in order to flourish. For most of history, news was so hard to gather and expensive to deliver, its hold on our inner lives was inevitably held in check. Now there is almost nowhere on the planet we are able to go to escape from it. It is there waiting for us in the early hours when we wake up from a disturbed sleep; it follows us on board airplanes making their way between continents; it is waiting to hijack our attention during the children's bedtime.

The hum and rush of the news has seeped into our deepest selves. What an achievement a moment of calm now is; what a minor miracle the ability to fall asleep or to talk undistracted with a friend; what monastic discipline would be required to make us turn away from the maelstrom of news and to listen for a day to nothing but the rain and our own thoughts.

We may need some help with what the news is doing to us: with the envy and the terror, with the excitement and the frustration; with all that we've been told and yet occasionally suspect we may be better off never having learnt. So I wrote a little manual that tries to complicate a habit that, at present, has come to seem a little too normal and harmless for our own good. In what follows, I play the role of my own interlocutor in order to make clear just why I believe this to be so urgent.

Read it all.

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