Friday, 4 October 2013

To Those Who Find The News "Too Depressing"

Image by openDemocracy. Some rights reserved.

'Oh no, I don't watch the news. It's just too depressing.'

Have you ever heard that one before? Have you ever heard someone attribute their lack of knowledge regarding current world events on their aversion to reading or watching the news based on the content being too miserable for their liking? Have you ever muttered to a chum 'How can the war in Syria be ended...?' or 'How has Erdo─čan's attacks on his own people been left unchallenged...?' only to receive a blank face in return?

'I know I should watch the news, but it just makes me feel bad.'

This is the mindset I had during most of my teenage years. As a teenager, I would rather remain ignorant of major global issues and simply enjoy myself while finding 'importance' in other activities.

As a result, I had little to no knowledge of world events and no knowledge of how my country's political system worked. Worst of all, I had no answers to questions brought up in conversation regarding politics of global events -- I would simply draw a blank and blurt out the following:

'I dunno, I don't watch the news. I just -- I just don't find it interesting. Most of it doesn't affect me our this country.'

Fortunately, being at university exposed me to people of numerous faiths, ethnicities and -- most importantly -- opinions. While I didn't know much of the world through following the news, I learnt a whole lot about it from my peers.

Upon entering the post-university 'adult world' amidst a worsening global recession (a.k.a. super unemployment land), I took it upon myself to try and access the global and political news that I had let dumbfound me for so long. I started by watching BBC News for half an hour every morning. Then, after watching a few hours of Russia Today in a Travelodge after a Less Than Jake gig, I realised the benefit of hearing the same news story told by multiple news outlets. So, BBC News in the morning, Russia Today and Al Jazeera at lunch and, for laughs, America's NBC News.

N.B. From this British television watcher's perspective, mainstream televised American news outlets seem incapable of reporting the news properly. I know/ hope that there are unbiased American news outlets, but I can only watch what's available to me. At least on a casual basis.

Incidentally, watching Russia Today resulted in my writing of 'Metal Gear Rising’s prediction of a privatized American police force mirrors reality' on VentureBeat. 

But the crown jewel in my news-watching odyssey was obtained though BBC Parliament -- and it was a relatively recent addition to my daily television viewing at that. In fact, it was brought about after the news regarding David Cameron's anti-pornography plans which I wrote about at great lengths in 'From Pornography to Oppression' for Medium, as well as 'David Cameron. David Censorship. David Coward.' right here on MegaWestgarth.

I went on to watch the entirety of David Cameron's plea to and debate with the House of Commons over possible militarily intervention in the Syrian civil war. I've also gone on to watch the key speeches in the recent Liberal Democrat and Labour party conferences, and I'm in the process of catching up with that of the Tory party.

Taken from

In case it isn't clear, this isn't me boasting. I'm not celebrating the fact that I watch the news. I'm simply highlighting the fact that the information with which to understand many seemingly esoteric topics is freely and widely available -- so much so that a former global affairs-simpleton like myself can easily get up to speed.

But I don't watch the news because I enjoy it. Nor do I watch the news to actively make myself "smarter". I do it because I think it's important.

Which brings me back round to those who avoid the news -- while knowing that it's probably worth reading and watching -- purely because it makes them feel bad.

It's understandable. Most human beings don't want other human beings to suffer. Most human beings that live in societies with a rational judicial system believe in the concept of justice, and even those who don't have an innate moral compass developed through millions of years' evolution.

This I understand. But ignorance does not equal bliss. What you do not know cannot make you happy.

The world is a terrible place. More terrible than I can comprehend. More terrible than I will ever know. Twenty-four hours worth of news a day isn't enough to cover the many plights of our fellow human beings around the world. But surely an individual does more harm to the world by ignoring these plights than they would if they became aware of them?

Isn't it a horrific perversion for an individual to ignore the suffering of so many people in so many countries for their own emotional gain? Isn't a problem shared a problem halved? Don't the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one? Am I the only one that finds infuriation in the apathetic ignorance displayed by perfectly rational, perfectly intelligent human beings?

People are dying. People are dying right now. People are being oppressed by the very governments that claim to represent them. People who speak up about these governments are either silenced by brutal police forces or destroyed by obedient military forces.

This obvious, intentional ignorance even flows into the realms of videogame journalism. Tell me how the world's most prolific videogame news outlets are able to report on the recently revealed release date of Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, a game that is developed by former industry giant Sega and current house-hold name Nintendo, while completely ignoring the hypocrisy of these two companys' glamorisation of an Olympic event that will be held in a nation that violently opposes homosexuality and all other non-heterosexual activities. The game is aimed at children for fucks sake! Don't these videogame journalists watch the news..?

Perhaps not. Perhaps it's far too depressing for them.

P.S. I am aware that Sega Addicts has reported on Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and its aforementioned release date. I'm also aware that I am the site's current news editor and could potentially remove, or at least alter, the news articles in question. But as much as it pains me to leave them be, Sega Addicts doesn't hold a political stance of any kind and therefore the removal or alteration of these articles would be an abuse of my position, especially considering that I would be doing so to fit in with my personal world view -- hence why I've written this blog post.


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