Spent New Year’s Eve at a lovely gathering (thanks Amy and Karl!), and chatting with somebody who has really made me think.
She had a philosophical point to dissect: is the world getting crazier, or are we being driven crazy because we know about something the instant it happens?
Yes, we are informed when there is a hostage crisis in Australia, a plane crash in Indonesia, or a horrible drive-by shooting that killed a teen near where I live, in near real-time.
But does knowing this information, taking in the terror and evil and random horror around us…is it good for us?
Being virtual flies on the wall comes at a price.
The common refrain from everybody is how busy they are, how stressed they feel, how they never seem to be able to turn off.
We went in a circle, talking about how as media people, we thrive for live events. But is the thriving good for us, or the world?
We need to know what is going on, yes, and being informed is important. But the need to be first, the CNN-esque “we don’t know anything but we are going to keep talking until we do” approach to live news is not good. And the need to be first, even if wrong, by throwing all kinds of crap against the wall (aka the Don Lemon effect), is also bad.
So are we, the media clinicians, doing more harm than good?
Do we care? Should we care?
All deep questions that I do not have the immediate, simple and clean answers for. But I am going to think about them during this year, especially when something happens. How do I approach it as a journalist? How do I approach it as a news consumer?