Yesterday, I went over to Google News for my daily perusal to find that the top story was “‘Handsome’ mug shot of California felon goes viral”. The top story. This punctuated a sense that I need to find a new way to get my news.
It is a troubling trend, the Buzzfeeding of our information. It seems that in the past several years, our appetite for longer form news or even short form news of substance has diminished to the point where we half pay attention to animated gifs and top lists, giving them our precious clicks/taps, which tells advertisers and editors that this is what we want: crap. Seth Godin tied a bow on it in his blog post this week: In Search of Meaningful.
For all the reasons Godin points out, it makes sense how this has happened. But I am left contemplating what will be the longterm outcome. Sometimes I feel like a majority under 50 or so are lost to their smartphones, to Facebook, and to junk news. Gazing, sharing, up-voting, re-playing, and on and on. We’re losing our sense of perspective, hierarchy, and even of factuality. The result seems to be that we all amble around knowing the trending viral videos and sensational headlines of the day, but not the news or even what’s based in verified reporting.
As with most things, I try to focus on what I can do rather on what others can’t. Like the movie Idiocracy, is coming true and it is frightening. So I’m working to change my settings.
What I want is less news, less of the time, and only news that actually matters. It seems as though even the newspapers of the highest standards have turned their websites into the content equivalent of KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut combos. Most days I read my city’s paper on the iPad… the print layout digitally. At least this saves me from the bulk of the junk that fills most news sites. But I do want other perspectives. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for a new news portal that isn’t all celebrity gossip and click-bait.
And for my part, I’ve stopped clicking on the crap. It may be fighting the tide, but at the least it spares me the inanity.