“Anybody who has the courage to raise his eyes and look sanely at the awful human condition… must realize finally that tiny periods of temporary release from intolerable suffering is the most that any individual has the right to expect.” -Flann O’Brien
A serial killer randomly guns down his helpless victims in broad daylight on city streets. A man sets fire to someone’s front door. A tsunami’s death toll is updated. Seven Russians are arrested by U.S. intelligence officers for cyber warfare. Police serve a Viet Nam vet a search warrant in South Carolina and are met with gunfire; one officer killed, six other officers wounded… the warrant was meant for someone else living in the house. A man intentionally blows up a car with his two-year old son and himself in it. A salmonella outbreak reaches 17 states.
All this took place in America in one day, presented nationwide in a half hour on the evening news. After 29 minutes of being bludgeoned over the head, the news anchor left us with a solitary feel-good story about a solider reuniting with his son. In an instant, all is well with the world once again.
Imagine all the horror they had to leave out. Odds are there was a shooting in Chicago, or several shootings in Chicago. Politicians everywhere are up to their eyeballs in corruption. The water in Flint, Michigan, and in many other towns and cities across the land, is still deadly. And you know there’s some sort of craziness leading to harm in Florida on a daily basis.
If your only source of information is the local and evening mainstream news, you will became insane at some point, either dreading existence, or regarding what is told to you as reality.
Humans, being the pattern seeking beings they are, must strengthen their powers of belief to fit psychological certainties carved into them since birth. That’s why we watch our particular brand of political news. We watch the evening news because we’re drawn to the world’s carnage and bloodshed, to a lesser or greater degree. The evening news knows this, and they’re more than happy to oblige. It’s only a matter of which stories will bring in the most advertising dollars.
The feel-good story tacked on to the end is simply a device to get you to tune in tomorrow. It provides a false measure of hope. There’s no point pinning it sloppily at the tail end of the death circus. It’s farcical, as is the awkward segue from an unpleasant story to sports, or the embarrassingly awful attempts at humor from anchors trying to lighten the mood.
The image we have of the world is what we see on the news; it can’t be any other way. If we actually wanted an honest and reasonable approach to newscasts, we’d stop watching and force networks to re-evaluate their presentations. We won’t do that. In the end, we perversely demand exactly what is given to us.