Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You REALLY Want to know.........?

Lately, I have been unable to avoid the fact that the huge preponderance of our local news, here in Maine--and I assume it's the same around the country--is about pathos. It has probably always been this way, but now I am just more painfully aware that tuning in means I am going to be bombarded with one story after another about insignificant people acting in shabby ways.

Why, exactly, do I need to know that some high-school drop-out murdered his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend in some sordid apartment in (name your city, or town)? I mean, what end does it serve? How am I benefited in the least by knowing this? And, if I were to survey the entire viewership, how many people out there in t-v land would feel that this was in any way relevant to their lives?

I am going to hazard a guess that it would be on the order of a tiny fraction of one percent who actually wanted to see such a story. But, somehow, along the long road to the present, we have developed the resignation--indeed, the expectation--that this is somehow what constitutes 'news'.

It would be of great value and of interest to many--unless I am alone in feeling this way--to have some kind of scientific study done on how this nightly ongoing deluge of pathetic people acting in pathetic ways affects our general well-being. What, exactly, might be the relationship to this constant stream of negativity (and the hopelessness it unavoidably alludes to), to the sharp rise in prescriptions for anti-depressants?

Most people are vaguely aware that the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed in this country. In the last period for which statistics are available--2005--use had risen 48%. Over 118 million scripts were written in another recent year. One source indicates that approximately TEN PERCENT of all men and women are using prescription antidepressants. And, that is discounting the people who are using non-prescription approaches, such as St. John's Wort. And, as if that weren't troubling by itself, there is an ever steeper rise in the prescription of antidepressants for CHILDREN. Apparently, our kids are looking around at this society and it is depressing to them too.

I don't think it is a stretch to say that we are rapidly becoming a nation of depressed people, or more properly we WOULD be depressed if we weren't so drugged-up. The evidence all seems to point to this fact. And, for us to be watching news stories that simply relate an endless stream of people acting badly, just seems to be one more brick on an already over-loaded cart. One medical source indicated that he feels it is a wonderful thing that so many people are availing themselves of the help that is out there. HOLY COW, BATMAN!!! What he's really saying, is that if we all just take enough 'happy pills' everything will be okay.

This makes me want to write a novel that I have imagined for years: a small town in E. Nowhere has a family doctor who eventually has the entire town on happy meds. It becomes like a dream-town, where all the people are happy...sort of. They are also not really alive, just kind of cruising in a state of drug induced pseudo-euphoria. And, it all goes downhill when a stranger moves to town and sees what has happened. The struggle is to deal with life on a 'reality' basis, instead of just medicating it all away.

But, my real point here is this: Why do the news reporting media have to remain stuck in the notion that it is their sworn duty to tell us every little sick and sad story that comes their way? Why do they think we need to know, that we benefit, or that WE EVEN CARE?


Teresa Evangeline said...

When I lived in Santa Fe, the local news came out of Albuquerque and every single newscast started with who murdered who, or what meth lab went up in flames; whatever fearmongering B.S. they could kick it off with. Michael Moore did a segment in one of his films on how "the news" uses fear to pull people in with the first story of every newscast. If we could all just stop being addicted to fear, turn the damn TV off and refuse to participate, we would all be better off and drugs might not be necessary. We need to stop allowing Fear and Big Pharma to be in control. IMHO

Stark Raving Zen said...

The 70's film, Network, with Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, and William Holden (among worthy others) has been called prophetic in its prediction of the frightening evolution of "news" in our country. I haven't been able to watch the news for years, due to the very reasons you outline above. I mean, let's face it, watching the news neither informs us nor educates us, it simply fills us with distorted half-truths and lurid accounts of all that's wrong with humanity (with the occasional heartwarming puppy or kitten story thrown in for good measure). I watched Network a few months back, and my husband and I had chills through half of it. Prophetic indeed. I strongly recommend everyone see it.

Kittie Howard said...

I followed Teresa and Zen to your site and am happy I did. I couldn't agree with you more. While hard news is just that, I'm sick of the nightly crime report. It's as though there's an enabling factor here that kinda gives instant fame to those who least deserve it. About all the is not an eternal bowl of cherries. Gotta enjoy the good, be realistic about the not-so-good and gut it out with the bad. Actually, what I'm saying is more people need to get off their lazy arses and put some energy into life, maybe even lift something heavier than a feather, get the sweat pourin' and the muscles working (and probably the last thing PHARMA wants)....Write on!

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