Terrorism, natural disasters, horrific murders – Every day, we see in the news that something terrible has happened here and there in the world.
We’re constantly bombarded by this type of news on TV and social media.
Sometimes it seems like nothing good happens. It looks like the world is chaotic, and every year gets worse.
But that’s not a coincidence. Journalists have known for years that bad news sells.
And the question is: Why do we watch it?
Our brain is wired to pay attention to information that can scare us. A concept is known as negativity bias.
The negativity bias is the tendency to pay attention to an event of a negative nature more than to those of a positive nature.
For example, let’s say you had a pleasant conversation, but in the end, the other person criticized you for something. In this case, the criticism will most likely stick in your head.
Or, you may have had an embarrassing moment years ago, and yet, some situations make you remember that.
We remember the negative more vividly than the positive. The reason for that is that our brain is constantly seeking to defend us from a potential threat.
We inherited a brain that is focused on survival. Not paying attention to something good isn’t a problem because you can get it later. But, ignoring the threat can lead to a higher risk.
If it bleeds, it leads
The news industry has an expression, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means that the more shocking the news, the more likely it is to be the rating leader.
News about death and destruction is easier to achieve. You can get information from the police. And since they’re on the street, you don’t need permission to film. And generally, they are cheaper to cover.
The Russian news site City Reporter did an interesting social experiment.
For 24 hours, they would broadcast only positive news.
And they would modify bad news titles to seem more positive. So what happened?
They lost two-thirds of the regular readership that day.
You see, we are attracted more to horrible news than to a positive one.
Look, news channels have a single purpose: to make money.
They aim to make you worry about the future so you can come back for more information.
The news channels are competing with each other and with the entertainment industry.
So, to keep the ratings high, they sensationalize the news, and they keep talking about it until another bad thing happens.
The psychological effect on us
The research by Graham Davey suggests that hearing TV news has a big impact on our mood. It can increase cortisol levels which may lead to health problems.
Also, the people who watch too much news are more likely to:
-Think that crime rates are rising
-And overestimate their odds of becoming the victim.
-They consider the world to be a terrible place.
5 More reasons to stop watching the news
It’s Irrelevant – No matter what news you’re seeing, it won’t improve your life. There isn’t a single way that watching the news can help you solve a serious problem in your life. Instead, It will make you worry more.
News works like a drug – As I explained above, we are tempted to watch the news. And as we watch the story, we want to know how it ends.
News interrupts thinking – Thinking requires concentration and uninterrupted time. The news is designed to interrupt you. They make us shallow thinkers.
You’re wasting time – Imagine spending 5-10 minutes in the morning watching or reading the news. Then another 10 minutes in the lunch and dinner. Not to mention that you’ll check it constantly when something horrible happens.
The news is a poor representation of reality – The news channels sensationalize the story to gain more viewers. It creates a wrong impression of reality.
People who watch too much news often feel that there is a danger in every corner, despite the low crime rate.
A plane crash makes the news, but a car accident doesn’t. Even though the odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 1.2 million, the odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 5000.
Conclusion: Research has shown that people who watch the news daily are more likely to have high cortisol levels.
They tend to worry constantly and believe that the world is dangerous. Believe me. If you decide to reduce the time of watching the news, you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ll save yourself from worrying about the things you can’t control.