Home > Uncategorized > Is Instant News Healthy?

Is Instant News Healthy?

Thanks to Twitter, I am learning of the school shooting in Sandy Hook, CT before it hits the major news outlets.  I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.

Newtown_HH: #Newtown shooting reported at sandy hook school. In lockdown. (RT’d by @acarvin)

Evolutionary biologists and sociobiologists would say that there is an advantage to natural selection to being fascinated with danger.  The more we learn about it, the more likely we are to avoid it.  The early hominids who thought “Wow, what is the spider with the big fangs??” and learned all about it were more likely to survive than those who didn’t care.  We are arguably biologically hard wired to be fascinated by poisonous snakes, car crashes, and school shootings.

But getting beyond selection advantages into the modern day, I wish we could turn some of those instincts off.  Is there any value to learning about these things in the heat of the moment, as they happen?  For locally affected folks of course there is.  But for the rest of us who are just gawking at danger, it seems unproductive and unhealthy.

Acarvin: Contradictory reports over whether there’s 1 or 2 shooters in #Newtown. Please not that this type of confusion is _very_ common at shootings

Reading this as it’s happening is not making my morning better informed, more productive, or more enjoyable.  I suppose it’s an important service to provide this news quickly for those directly affected, but I’m going to try harder to turn it off when it’s more distant. Give me the summary tomorrow.

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