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Could an endless torrent of news notifications be harming democracy?

  • by JW

The Vision Group’s news pages seek to highlight any current issues which might be of interest to us in the Sid Valley.

But we can have too much of a good thing…

Oliver Burkeman considers how the stream of newsfeeds is taking over – and to the detriment of local life. Here’s his long read in the Guardian:


How the news took over reality

Is engagement with current affairs key to being a good citizen? Or could an endless torrent of notifications be harming democracy as well as our wellbeing?

In recent years, there has been enormous concern about the time we spend on our web-connected devices and what that might be doing to our brains. But a related psychological shift has gone largely unremarked: the way that, for a certain segment of the population, the news has come to fill up more and more time – and, more subtly, to occupy centre stage in our subjective sense of reality, so that the world of national politics and international crises can feel more important, even more truly real, than the concrete immediacy of our families, neighbourhoods and workplaces. It’s not simply that we spend too many hours glued to screens. It’s that for some of us, at least, they have altered our way of being in the world such that the news is no longer one aspect of the backdrop to our lives, but the main drama. The way that journalists and television producers have always experienced the news is now the way millions of others experience it, too…

… If the colonisation of everyday life by the news is damaging both to ourselves and to democratic politics, we ought not to collaborate unthinkingly with that process. Far from it being our moral duty to care so much about the news, it may in fact be our duty to start caring somewhat less.

How the news took over reality