Watching the six o’clock news is a bad idea. Frankly, I think this goes for watching televised news at any time.

Perhaps your career truly requires that you know exactly what is going on all the time. Perhaps you are a commodities trader and need to know the weather in the Outback.

Then, I guess, you must watch the news. (Are you sure you’re being paid enough to invest your precious life this way?)

However, if the world will go on without your being constantly glued to the television, here is an argument to consider…

Why You Might Consider
Never Watching The “News” Again

My teacher, Thich Nhat Hhan, over whose books I’ve already fawned, suggests that televised news is designed to depress you. Surely you would agree that the content is mainly death and destruction — plus a lot of useless stupidity and bombast.

The wise monk discourages readers from watching such corrosive programming.

What do you think, wise monk? Is watching the so-called “news” truly good for you? Or are you simply wallowing in other’s misery, intending to show some respect?

Is Generation X avoiding television news — in favor of The Daily Show — because they are ignorant? Or, wait: is it because they are wiser?

If you want to know what is going on, CNN and Fox and the like are the worst way to find out. You see a blur of images without any time to digest. It’s information without comprehension.

You want to know what’s going on? Read the news. (I read The New York Times, The New Yorker, Haaretz, and The Columbus Dispatch. My smarter friends read The Economist and, as a tonic, The Skeptic.)

My family ejected television
from our home and lives
eight years before 9/11.

On that miserable day, I saw the central images of the terrorism — airplanes flying into buildings — with my colleagues at work. But my wife and children did not. (In fact, my wife didn’t see the central video image until, years later, we saw Fahrenheit 911.)

On 9/12, at home, we didn’t share the ghastly photographs from The New York Times with our children. They were excellent photographs, but is the knowledge gained by viewing them worth the spirit sacrificed?

How many times did the average American see the central image? I’d guess 400 times. Maybe 800. What is the effect on the psychology and soul of watching thousands of real people murdered over and over and over and over and over again?

Why would anyone watch this sadness so many times?

To see it once is to be shocked. To see it a second time is to be appalled, to begin to comprehend the horror. To see it a third time is to pay some respects, to worship.

But to see it 400 times? What is that — beyond mindless ghoulishness?

I’m A Second-Generation Weirdo
My father felt obliged to watch the news. Yet he would quietly shake his head at each unnecessary report of some local murder.

One time, he explained:

“There are so many angry people in this world. Many of them have guns. Sometimes they kill people.

“That’s not news. That’s probability.

My dad should have been a monk. (The kind that still has children.)

What makes watching “news” worthwhile?