Posted on January 11, 2009 - by MG
This phrase appeared in a comment on a Facebook friend’s newsfeeds. Lamenting the general state of things, my FB friend’s commenter (who I won’t name cos she isn’t my own contact, so I don’t feel it’s right) advised our mutual friend to stop accessing the news altogether, as she was doing, and ‘feeling much less cross’ as a result.
I have friends on both the hard left and hard right of the political spectrum and interestingly, they are all griping in a hardcore way in their blogs.
Ni by ears-and-eyes sounds like good advice.
I’m almost there myself. I stopped watching TV news about 10 years ago, on account of the ridiculous sensationalism and manipulation of all news programmes. Lately, I hear, they barely report actual news, the kind that isn’t about minor celebrities, that is.
Newspapers have always been banned from our house – they take up valuable space and require endless recycling.
The last thing to go was Radio 4’s Today programme, which I gave up about 5 years ago.
I’m not quite nil-by; I read TIME magazine until about two years ago and I still subscribe to THE SPECTATOR but that’s thin on news, it’s more essays, arts reviews and analysis (of issues of which I’m barely aware).
And that’s it. I am blissfully only vaguely aware of what’s going on in the world. As far as I can tell it’s the same as ever, war, pointless war, drugs, gangs, violence, stupid government reforms and of course, we’re going to hell in a handbasket.
Same as last year, same as the year before or any year I’ve ever lived.
Why do people need to tune in to the news to hear that every day? I must admit I don’t understand.
Okay I’m ill-equipped now to do what I once did i.e. argue noisily at dinner parties about things I can’t affect and matters that I probably don’t have enough factual information to understand.
Solution – don’t bother with dinner parties, at least not with people who think that the problems of the world can be understood or solved by a bunch of overfed, semi-drunk members of the bourgeousie trying to impress each other.
The problem is – when you have to make a decision – for example a vote – it’s probably wise to have a clue.
It may be the fact that I don’t have a vote – not being British – may be part of my decision to go (almost) nil-by-ears-and-eyes.
Or maybe it’s the longer term impact of my scientific training.
Living as a scientist teaches you – in the most weary way possible; the 90% failure/inconclusiveness of most of your experiments – that things are very rarely what they seem. They are something else. Something that you can’t know today. You may know tomorrow, or later, when new facts have come to light. But not today. Life surprises, delights and disappoints.
So why worry on a daily basis?
Surely reading the news once a month is enough for anyone, unless you are one of those who needs to make a decision, or you can actually get your information from a primary source and don’t just regurgitate your favourite propaganda rag.
And if you want to sound smart at dinner parties – here’s a suggestion: read history books.
That way you don’t have to speculate and pontificate about how things are going to end up.
(Any child readers who are still reading this far…all I got is this…study your lessons, get some fresh air, eat yer greens and read the odd good book now and again. Can’t give you any better advice than that.)