A rant about the media and why my TV is staying OFF

One of the things that makes me spitting mad is when a tragedy happens, and every blogger on the net jumps straight in with a lot of trite commentary about ‘tragedy’ and ‘hearts going out’ and being ‘traumatised’ by it all.

There’s something, to me, very distasteful about hijacking somebody else’s personal story, claiming it as your own because you’ve been watching it on TV for 24 hours solid and are feeling (understandably) like a huge truck just ran over your heart.

I hesitated to write this post, because I don’t want to be one of ‘those bloggers’.  I’m not one for joining a chorus.

I don’t watch those news reports.  My TV isn’t even wired up to the outside world, I use it to watch DVDs and that’s it.  My radio goes off for news bulletins and I never buy a newspaper, ever.  I don’t even look at news stands whilst waiting in the supermarket queue.

I do, very occasionally, read news on the internet and I am on the mailing list for a number of organisations like Amnesty International, Avaaz and Care2 who regularly update me on world events, and invite me to take action on them.

Social media keeps me posted on the rest.  I don’t miss anything important.

I have been shouted down many, many times about this stance.  Apparently I don’t care about world events, because I don’t subject myself to harrowing images of human suffering on a daily basis.

This morning, the news is once again filled with violence and hate and, because I am on social media, so is my newsfeed.  That’s how I know, by watching the reaction to the news media.  Even that is horrifying – maybe even worse than what is being shown on TV.

Normally rational people spitting hate onto Facebook and Twitter, whipped up into a frenzy, a virtual mob.  

It’s hard to escape it.

It’s hard not to feel like it happened TO YOU.  I get why people are reacting the way they are.  The news media feeds graphic images, empassioned commentary and extreme viewpoints at viewers on the hour, every hour. 

But it didn’t happen to me.  And I don’t need to borrow sorrow.  I don’t need to invade another community and family’s tragedy.  I can’t help to make the world a better place by watching it over and over on a screen.

TV news lost me the day a camera zoomed in on a man falling from one of the World Trade Centre towers.  I can’t even think of it now without crying and feeling so, so angry.

The invasion of that private moment, the last moments of a human being’s precious life.  The disrespect for that man and his family.  The image they burned onto my brain, an image I didn’t ask for, a thing I could do nothing to stop.  I don’t want any more of those images.  That camera violated, for me, everything beautiful and sacred in this world.

I didn’t need to see that.  They didn’t need to show that.

So the TV stays off.  This morning I am grateful that it is off, and I am spared another borrowed horror, filmed to boost viewing figures.


140 Characters – a poem by Bik

I get my news from a Twitter feed
Not on the hour, every hour
Picked, cleaned and packaged like supermarket fruit,
low-hanging regulation-sized and bland
But moment-to-moment
A Raw babble like a Marrakech market
Tender and still covered in the soil and soul of the hand that planted it
The trivial and the trials
The trash and the torment
I get my news from a Twitter feed
From the International Space Station as it zooms overhead
From a bedroom in Gaza: their neighbours are dead
From BiG Ben who just Tweets ‘Bong’ on the hour
And when to expect the next meteor shower
From the victims of storms ‘cos the climate’s gone wrong
Eye witness of whale killer who tries to stay strong
From a rabbit that quotes buddha wisdom for bunnies
And a commuter’s observance of things that are funny
From a passenger sat across from George Osborne,
who got turfed out of first class as soon as he got on
Cos he only had a second class ticket
And ‘Don’t you know who I am’ didn’t quite lick it!
From Dave Camoron pretending to be his name’s sake
And a journalist’s apology for the muck that he raked
Professors of science tweet exasperated of arguments with skeptics with views overated
That evolutionary science is just a big fraud
and global warming’s a communist plot from abroad
I get my news from a Twitter feed
Unedited and unlbleached from the palm of the hand of a Red Cross doctor in a field hospital tent with more kids now to foster
From Neanderthal Man alone in his cave, ‘razor not invent yet so I not have to shave.’
I Type in a hash tag to tune into my news
From real-time statistics of political views
To the latest advancements in particle science from a Higgs Hunter in person, which improves it’s reliance.
I know what exhibit’s have gone on display in the Tate’s gallery and the VA
And there’s a guy on the run in Sudan ‘cos he’s gay, and he’s not sure if he’ll live to see the next day
From an Iraqi artist afraid for her paintings
And from writers improving their Amazon ratings
I get my news from a Twitter feed
Not on the hour, every hour
Sterilised and sodomised by the Murdoch machine
Or the language curtailed to be BBC clean
With a Polished-up propaganda-buffed sheen
Or a last ditch CPR for the American Dream
I get my news from a Twitter feed
140 characters at a time
Human poetry line by line
The heart beat of a planet
It’s hopes and it’s fears
Tweets cascade through my fingers
Like uncountable tears


A small addendum.  

Watching the news has been linked to worsening depression. I have found my depression is significantly less life-invading since giving up TV.  Most of the people I know who exhibit strong symptoms of depression, especially bipolar disorder, watch a lot of TV.  It seems to me there may be a link.

I’m no medical expert, but my personal experience has led me to believe that people with depression really should switch off the news!

Here is interesting article on depression and watching the news. 

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    A rant about the media and why my TV is staying OFF — 6 Comments

    1. I wrote a poem about this very subject not long back, after seeing depressing item after depressing item in a newspaper, over the shoulder of a guy on a station platform, then coming home to read online that depression is the number one mental health problem in the UK. Go figure. I do not have a TV, because so much of what is broadcast is mind numbing and/or depressing and can be the hugest distraction from real life, the media being the worst for that.

    2. This is really great, and too true! I have a tv but watch primarily documentaries on natgeo and films…nothing else. Newspapers get delivered twice weekly, and twice over for the studio and my home…this gets saved in a big box for starting the fire in winter. I don’t listen to the radio and can’t remember the last time I watched the news. People are shocked when I three weeks later haven’t heard about a woman raped in India….Oh well. Thousands of other woman were raped in that time…One hits the media and all others are forgotten. *shakes head*

    3. Indeed. In fact, I heard about the woman in India via a site which is campaigning to get the Indian government to sort it’s archane rape laws out. So I was able to do something about it! I didn’t read the gruesome details though – not needed, thanks!

    4. Pingback: Life has no 'record' button -