How the Boston Marathon bombing proved news is pointless

How the Boston Marathon bombing proved news is pointless

Within hours of the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon news got to me that 3 people were killed, up to 150 others were injured, no-one had claimed responsibility and Obama was going to “[get to the bottom of this](" "target=_blank)“. Yet I haven’t watched a news bulletin in over 2 years.

I made the decision to stop following the traditional news  a couple of years after I recovered from [Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma](" "target=_blank). Six months of intense chemo had stripped me of my body image, my hair and my self esteem. I felt the crappiest of crap, and the 6 o’clock news wasn’t making me feel any better.

With post-cancer eyes, I found news to be a morbid, mind numbing, voyeuristic waste of a now more valuable hour of my life. A collection of murders, rapes, accidents, corruption, hurt children and homeless people didn’t seem to be helping my opinion of myself, or the world. I had just escaped death by 2 weeks at age 30, none of this seemed productive.

Yet the news rates it’s socks off every night.

It is this, a typical news list, that makes me wonder about our fascination with the morbid. This is a screenshot taken from my pre-installed news app on Feb 4, 2013 (just before I uninstalled it):

A typical day of news in Australia

One murder, one fatal car crash, someone burning their house down, someone crashing a school bus and homeless people. That’s news (evidently).

The Boston Marathon bombings was both tragic, and a timely reminder. It reminded me that in a digitally connected world, one where conversations come in 140 character bites, there is no need for traditional news.

Within minutes of the bombings, in the dead of night, I had seen pictures and videos of the bombing, had heard witness accounts and got opinions live from friends of victims. There were tweets, posts, likes, shares, recommendations, and +1’s, all from people on the ground or those close to them.

The bombing was news that, due to it’s scale, had some relevance, and so it found it’s way to me. In seconds. On the other side of the world.

Which begs the question. Why is the TV news consistently one of the highest rating shows each night? What makes people tune in to see how crappy we treat each other?

Every damn night.

Is it the want to not “miss out” on something? Is it a way to feel better about ourselves on a subconscious level as we watch others suffer more than us? Is it a way to place blame on anonymous faces for our own, often irrelevant troubles?

Whatever the reason, millions (billions?) do it each night. Just before a chorus of time poor complaints ring around the 1st world lounge rooms.

I will continue to not watch the TV news and read the newspapers, because in this day and age, the news that matters finds me.

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