Bad news equals no news

On the way home I was listening to the radio about a movement in South Africa called the Brass Bands movement, which picks up kids at risk of getting into trouble and encourages them to produce awful music instead.

Just kidding.

But it made me think about what happens when we hear a ‘good news story’ about people helping one another towards a kinder society.

What happens to me is this. I think,  maybe we humans aren’t that bad after all! Maybe there’s hope for us!  Maybe this isn’t such a awful place to be, this earth.

And then I hear, or see, or read, something terrible – about the torture victims of Iraqi and Iranian prisons, for example, or the little kids killed at the behest of witch doctors in Africa, or the UN refusing to take responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti, or some guy who diddled pensioners out of their life savings and is still sitting pretty in the Gold Coast mansion bought (in his kids’ names) off the proceeds.  And I think, no, this world is an evil place, and it would be better if humans were wiped off the face of it, leaving cruelty to the other beasts who don’t KNOW what they’re doing.  At least so we assume.

It seems to me that reactions to hearing about bad stuff fall into categories, roughly like so.  You feel…

1. What’s the use? Why bother to bring grandma a deckchair and a nice magazine, we’re all sinking anyway.

2. It’s ok to be rotten.  Everybody’s rotten.  It’s a great big party of rotten, a bit like the maggots crawling all over one another in my compost bin.  Rejoice and be bad, it’s only human!

3. Other people are scary.  We live in a world of monsters, where stepping outside the door is an act of foolish bravado.  Lock up your wives, your kids, your dogs, your flatscreen.  It’s raining shit out there.

4. If you can’t live in hell, fly to heaven.  Pop a pill, snort a line, buy your own island or just use a rope.

News is what it is.  Entertainment..entertains.  Conflict, cruelty and suffering are more interesting than agreement and hobbit-like home comforts.  Still, what we consume by way of mass media has a way of becoming us.

Whaddya reckon?  (and just to cheer you up, here is a story about the world’s least enticing invitation to snog)



  1. Some days something terrible I hear or see on the news stays with me all day, leaving me with a heavy heart. I know some people avoid the news because of this, but I can’t. I feel like it’s my duty somehow to be aware of these things, at the very least maybe to help me appreciate what I have. But as you mention, there are times when it is so easy to think, “What’s the point?”

    1. I feel the same. That said, I often don’t watch the news because I’m too busy doing other stuff, that I like (in theory). I would rather the news were angled towards people being helpful and nice, though. Just this morning someone told me about some millionaire who invited all these homeless people to his mansion for a party, instead of the usual riff raff, and someone else whose investment folded, but who paid out the small-time investors instead of setting up a firewall.

  2. I have a different question. I wonder why it is that we are only interested in the bad stories. There are certainly 10 good items for each bad one; if there weren’t we would have long ago spiraled into a flaming, zombie apocalypse. However, we never see those stories in the news. People are quick to blame media, but the truth is there: the media plays what we like. Period.

    The all-day news media (which I never, ever, ever watch) will show a sex crime/murder 24 x 7 until the trial is over. However, a feel-good story about young people trying the save the world in Serbia maybe will get a 10-second plug every other year. Why? The miserable watch the news, hoping to discover everyone else is as deep in the shitter as they are.

    I say we start an International Fuck the Media Day, and make it a week, just to confuse them. We encourage everyone to ignore all news media, and find out the world by freaking going outside, asking the neighbor, “What’s up?” or reading a blog from someone who isn’t a paranoid schizophrenic.

    Sorry. I cannot tell you how much I hate these people. The block traffic every morning, watching for accidents. Sheesh.

    1. I don’t know. As well ask why exhibitions of torture instruments are so popular. We have a vicariously unpleasant streak. I’d be in an international Fuck the Media day (week!). And yet, there’s got to be more to turning things around than that. I wish I knew.

    1. Well, there was that cop who gave the homeless guy shoes…I think if I was dictator of the world (a favourite dream of mine) I’d ban bad news, I”d just act on it, not report it. People who did crappy stuff would be punished in anonymity.

  3. I never watch the news. I listen to the CBC (equivalent, I think, to your ABC, which I only know about after a brief fling 20 years ago with an Aussie who worked for them. But I digress…) and I read a national paper on Saturdays. That’s enough for me. Otherwise, I’d be too weighted down.

    1. Same here. I’m appallingly ignorant. I get disappointed with people. After all these years, I just can’t really understand evil.

  4. Just a passing thought, “Everything will be good in the end. If it isn’t good, that just means it hasn’t finished yet.”

    Or –

    “Try not to sweat the little stuff.”

    1. Well, that’s a hopeful thought. And you’re right of course, it will be good in the end – because in the end the sun will go out, humanity and everything else here will perish, and there will be no more sinning of any kind!


  5. Crikey, Rose; anybody would think you’re having a bad day or something…
    Lighten up; lighten up…!
    The world goes round; there are bad guys; there are good guys; there are mediocre guys; there are ….. well, there are……
    Oh, okay; you’re right…. We’re stuffed….! 😉

    1. There are, Carolyn – all of those! Nope, not having a bad day, kind of a good one! But i never like to be in company that I despise, and sometimes I feel I’d rather not be here than be here knowing that people can be evil. Obviously I don’t feel this very strongly, otherwise I wouldn’t now be contemplating pizza for dinner!

  6. It is the occasional acts of good that make it all worthwhile. When everything appears to be crap, these lone acts stand pout like a beacon of what we could be. It gives one a couple of seconds of mellow thought.

  7. Funny, i read all the comments here. Very interesting interpretations of what you wrote. I REALLY didn’t think you were making a big deal about life, or complaining. AT ALL. I found it funny, and just (sadly) the way the world is: I think we all fit into that “SHIT LIST” 1 – 4 quite nicely actually. Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun, right? DO good: Feel Good. GOOGLE good deeds: Watch lots of YouTube videos of adorable rescue dogs driving cars with funny hats on! Puppies galore.

    The media, well, “The Message is the Media” … we ‘re giving the message TO the media and the media spits it back in our face. What a twisted lot we are.

    But some of us are quite nice, really. I think maybe we have “bad taste” in telivision: Hopefully it’s not a reflection of our IQ. Lord!

  8. Who, me, complain!!Some of us ARE quite nice, yes, specially you, and my kidlets, and..lots of people really. Sometimes I think Plato was right, we should be ruled by Guardians who make sure we don’t watch any crap.

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