Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Reason for Bad News

It's become common knowledge that crime has decreased in America, but the news reports of crime have increased. This is why the first half of that sentence may surprise many. So if news simply delivers what we want to, why deliver so much bad news? Here's a thought from Swiss writer Alain de Botton:
Newspapers are being read all around. The point is not, of course, to glean new information, but rather to coax the mind out of its sleep-induced introspective temper. To look at the paper is to raise a seashell to one's ear and to be overwhelmed by the roar of humanity. Today there is a story about a man who fell asleep at the wheel of his car after staying up late into the night committing adultery on the Internet -- and drove off an overpass, killing a family of five in a caravan below. Another item speaks of a university student, beautiful and promising, who went missing after a party and was found in pieces in the back of a minicab five days later. A third rehearses the particulars of an affair between a tennis coach and her thirteen year-old pupil. These accounts, so obviously demented and catastrophic, are paradoxically consoling, for they help us to feel sane and blessed by comparison. We can turn away from them and experience a new sense of relief at our predictable routines; we can be grateful for how tightly bound we have kept our desires, and proud of the restraint we have shown in not poisoning our colleagues or entombing our relations under the patio.
So I was right, it's about control.


  1. This quote is awesome. I raised my hands after I read it. It was that good. Thanks.

    It reminds me that God had destined us for greatness, not routine.

  2. To my surprise, the same logic doesn't work in all the arena of life ... For instance my parents were never consoled to see the way I performed better than others students in exams & always cajoled me to perform better and better ...

    Any thoughts ??

  3. Hmmm, this exactly why I prefer not to read the news. I like my "sleep-induced introspective temper."

    "Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."
    --Thomas Jefferson

  4. Stephen (I assume),

    Thanks. It's interesting that our mind's natural state is to check out. I was actually wondering if prayer does this as well.


    Maybe your parents were suffering from the opposite irrationality. In this one we see others in pain and feel safe by comparison. In your example your family sees others happy (or at least doing well) and gets sadder by comparison.


    I think that's why TV is so popular. For hours on end you can not think.

  5. it true. pschylogist always said- happiness is not getting it all but having little more than your peers, friends, family.. because human brain is bad is calculating values and only does that based on comparison.

    do check if you haven't already- Dan Ariely's predictable irrationality

    thanks,.. I have been silent fan of this page.

    Cheers, Yuva

  6. I'm halfway through PR and planning on posting my thoughts early next week. So far I'm really liking it.

    Thanks for reading, hope to hear more from you!


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.