“Keeping watch” as we watch the news

I began to ask myself, “What’s behind a compulsive need for news?”

Over the past few years I’d become something of a newshound. I was spending a lot more time watching television news, and news alerts were pinging on my phone, demanding, “Stop everything and read me now!” I was afraid that if I missed something—if I wasn’t fully informed at all times—I would somehow be more vulnerable to danger and evil. It felt almost like an addiction, so I began to ask myself, “What’s behind a compulsive need for news?”

I realized that it is not unusual to think that knowing more about the problems of the world is a form of self-protection, in that the more we know about a problem, the less likely we are to be ambushed by it. Is that really true? Are we more in control of a situation if we know all about potential pitfalls? Many of us have found that we’re not—that the hunger for a constant stream of human information leads only to more fear and confusion. 

Because of this, some people have decided to simply stay off the internet, cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and exchange news channels for programs that promise happy stories with cheery endings. I’ve found, though, that “blissful” ignorance isn’t a solution, either. In fact, ignoring current events and being obsessed with them turn out to be two sides of the same coin. That “coin” is the mistaken belief that we have a mind of our own that feels either safer sizing up material events in a material world, or happier trying to ignore world problems completely. 

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Love’s realm, reign, and provision
September 6, 2021

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