Apart from coffee, my second favourite thing to consume every morning is news and information. The moment I wake up, I check my phone to see if there are new emails or messages, and proceed to check my Facebook and Twitter to see what everyone is talking about. While having breakfast I used to leave the television on to watch a popular morning news programme. I would also read some of the Thai newspapers that my family subscribes to.
Again, that's what I used to do, until the news on TV became increasingly disturbing, as did the front page of those newspapers. Images of dead bodies, footage of shootings and unnecessarily explicit details of gruesome murders are highlighted over and over.
Just recently, a morning news programme ran a short clip of a woman whose husband had been accidentally killed. The tearful wife talked about what a good man he had been, how devastated she was, and how difficult her life would be. After the clip, the news presenter relayed his death in all its gory detail.
Another item I stumbled across in a newspaper was about a rape victim, and the news included silly details like what colour her underwear was!
I could not help but question what good it does for the audience. Do we really need that much detail?
Personally, I think it is enough to state the basics _ what, when, where and why. I am sure that they can do away with the "how" and still get the message across. I subscribe to the idea that your morning sets the tone for your entire day, and I recognise the importance of starting my day off with a positive mood. Starting it by hearing about multiple deaths in detail with images is not what I call a healthy breakfast for my head. More to the point, I certainly don't want my two-year-old to see or hear about it at his age, or maybe never ever in his life if it were up to me. I don't believe spreading a bunch of bad, depressing news is useful for anyone, except for some media who use this sickening catch to attract viewers/readers and generate more money.
I recently read an article by Andrew Rose, a security and risk professional. His blog entry is titled "The Psychology Of Bad News" and he said that it is common knowledge that bad news sells, which is why many newspapers almost exclusively lay it out on their front page. "Our subconscious always needed to be more attuned to a cry of 'Wolf!' than a regular call of 'No wolves in sight!' ... It seems that our nature is to seek out bad news, but then ignore the lessons that it should be teaching us." I could not agree more. I'd like to add that we also decline to contemplate whether it is teaching us any lesson at all. Bring on the drama! Who cares if it is of good use? It gives you something to talk about at the water cooler in your office, or to a total stranger who sits next to you at the salon, and that's all that matters!
With a life to live, a job to do and a little boy to raise, I think it is better for me to be "ignorant" and not know these disturbing things. A friend of mine argued that it is news like this that keeps us on our toes and makes us be more careful. I would like to argue that most of the time these incidents happen not because the victims are not careful. Some people get killed while withdrawing money from an ATM, but that doesn't mean an ATM is a killing field and we all from now on should make transactions at bank counters only. To me, the news only serves to depress me and make me feel like this world is a horrible place full of bad people. That's not the right attitude to start the day with. In fact, that's not the right attitude, period.
I'd go for the "No wolves in sight" any given day.
Napamon Roongwitoo is a feature writer for the Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer