Rhona Canoy .
SO… When I found myself constantly on the local news, the decision to take a hiatus from information covering current events was a no-brainer. At first I was a bit worried that some earth-shattering event was going to pass me by. Suffice it to say that the first few days were filled with dread. Until one morning when, upon waking up, I found myself without concern for anything except what I already knew I had to face for the day. Since then, I have only turned on the news on Friday nights. What a life-changing habit it has become.
Considering the fact that I have some close friends who make a living off what happens, I must say that I am gaining more insight into their personalities and how they react to the world. Technology and the availability of data and information at our fingertips have certainly changed human personality. People now are more reactive than ever. Everyone has a strong opinion on even the smallest things. And being a nosy know-it-all seems to be par for the course.
Conversations have become more interesting for me because I don’t know anything. This self-confessed ignorance is proving to be a blessing. Coupled with the awareness that everything I hear from everyone is tainted by personal bias, all information now must be diligently sifted through and assessed. Even more than the concern that it may be fake news is the concern that somewhere buried in all that information is a seed of truth which may (or may not) matter.
Being an information junkie for most of my life, I eagerly dove into the internet culture. Having all that knowledge at my fingertips was exhilarating and only served to fuel my addiction for knowledge. And herein lies the rub. For all of us. Although information technology is advancing at lightning speed, the human being’s capacity not to be controlled by it is falling further and further behind. We are so willing to surrender to the ease of being told by the internet, to surrender our independence to our smart gadgets, to surrender our thinking capacity to circuit boards and memory chips.
Global this, global that. Yes, we are informed about what is happening in every corner of the world. Our news and our social media newsfeeds let us know about the Chinese invading our waters, of the fishermen treated so badly, of US First Lady Milania Trump maybe leaving her husband, of the war in the Middle East affecting the world economy. We are so up to date. But let me tell you why I stopped watching the daily news on TV. Deaths rule that world. Even those deaths that shouldn’t really be a national concern. A knife fight in Marikina, a drunken shooting spree in Quezon City. A hit-and-run death on C-5. Yes, any death is to be mourned. But these deaths that happen on another island, in the domains of Metro Manila can hardly be classified as national news.
Yes, deaths from the never-ending drug war should concern us. Yes, deaths from conflicts between the insurgents and our military should concern us. But then, deaths buried in statistics — due to dengue, mass food poisoning — don’t affect us at all. The dengue issue has become everyday for us. And the mass food poisoning only gained attention because it happened at Mrs. Imelda Marcos’s birthday celebration. So, do these things really matter? We are fast becoming calloused to the bad things that happen in our world. And the way that the news is being presented has a lot to do with that.
A dear friend and his family, and his whole neighborhood for that matter, are about to lose their home. They must all surrender to the dike project which is being undertaken along the banks of the Cagayan River. That should be big news. There is no concrete plan as yet with regards to their relocation. And hundreds of people are going to be affected. This should matter more to us who live in this city. But hardly anything is being said about it. And I suppose if they were not my friends, I would have remained ignorant and unconcerned about this situation, just like everyone else.
I’m not telling you to turn your back on being informed. But I am saying maybe it’s time to put strong filters in place. We don’t have to be aware of everything. It just makes me sad that this is the era when we know so much, and yet we don’t know anything. Albert Einstein once warned us not to let technology overtake our humanity. I think we’ve reached that crossroad.
Oh, and can someone tell me why good news is called a human interest story?