But I'm afraid for people I meet who always remind me of all the awful things they've seen in the news. I'm aware of none of this until someone tells me.
And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.
There is virtually no nuance in the reporting. There’s no dissection. For example, the situation with Syria is quite complicated as Turkey, U.S., Russia, Kurds, and Assad all have conflicting goals and desires. Yet all of the reporting I’ve seen on this conflict has been absurdly reductionist and used to garner support/hatred toward the party in power by the adherents/adversaries of said party in power.
I understand the desire to have an informed populace but I think that is no longer possible. It is too easy to sway large swaths of the public. Witness the rise of anti-vaxers and other thoughtless beliefs. Even if I tried to be relatively informed it wouldn’t matter because the vast majority of the people are not psychologically prepared to withstand the pressure of subtle, sustained propaganda.
I have resigned myself to the fact that the republic is dead in the sense of what the ideal of a republic ought to be. I too avoid news and social media. I don’t count this website to be what I call social media since there is no identifying information about myself on here and none of my friends knows about my posts on this website.
> When they meet together, and the world sits down at an assembly, or in a court of law, or a theatre, or a camp, or in any other popular resort, and there is a great uproar, and they praise some things which are being said or done, and blame other things, equally exaggerating both, shouting and clapping their hands, and the echo of the rocks and the place in which they are assembled redoubles the sound of the praise or blame—at such a time will not a young man's heart, as they say, leap within him? Will any private training enable him to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opinion? or will he be carried away by the stream? Will he not have the notions of good and evil which the public in general have—he will do as they do, and as they are, such will he be?
People have been complaining about what you're complaining about for thousands of years. What I find truly puzzling -- given the supposed madness of crowds -- is that things are going so well.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi's optimism here of course belies an ignorance of the impact of technological advancement upon the global climate, which was odd considering he was alive for history's literal technological fulcrum, but I guess he can be forgiven due to having other worries at the time.
It's worth remembering that our technology makes the world less habitable for us but that might not be the case for other organisms. I have little concern for the longterm health of life on earth beyond the blip of disruption that is humanity. However, I hope we can use the same technology to overcome or manage some of our own worst excesses. It is worth looking towards the positive stories in environmentalism sometimes. It is not all doom and gloom, and nature's ability to regenerate and re-conquer our wastelands is easy to forget.
Not to mention that the goldilocks zone doesn't last forever, and the impending runaway-greenhouse-effect is something unprecedented in Earth's history. I'm being hyperbolic here, but what if the earth never had another ice age, ever again?
In a sea populated mostly by jellies and cephalopods, would natural processes be able to sequester enough carbon to allow de-acidify the seas, finally allowing calcium to be used as an exoskeleton again? Or is earth's future going to be predominantly boneless?
Sure, life will never be extinguished until the seas have boiled away (and even then...) but the incredible biodiversity of life we had a few hundred years ago is likely never to return... ever.
I've been thinking a lot recently about the biblical creation story in the context of trying to understand how I can effectively communicate regarding climate change with those around me who are religious.
Some Christians are amenable to the concept of human destruction of the environment being sinful, but even then, I sometimes wonder if their tendency to rely on grace hinders their ability to be proactive in their worldview regarding it.
Anyway, most people know the story of Adam and Eve as an explanation of the imperfection of life. "Why did God make life so hard? Why is there evil?" Humans did something knowingly bad and we now have to pay the consequence of having a harder life. Fine.
I just can't shake this feeling that maybe that story is a prophecy more than a prologue. I look around and see all the incredible beauty of the natural world; the amazing cornucopia of life, the incredible desolation of space, the warm gifts we give each other in the form of culture, food, love. Seems like life is really ok if you have family and can put good food on the table every night, right?
So what happens if we keep breaking the natural order of things? What happens when all the animals bigger than us are dead? When the soil drys up and blows away? When we've put enough pesticides and antibiotics and plastics into our rivers and oceans and overfished them to the point where our children won't know the concept of seafood like we did because it doesn't exist anymore? What happens then? I think only then we realize that what we had before looked pretty close to Eden.
It's completely thinkable that we've already caused the extinction of some organism with an adaptation that humanity will desperately need in the future. Our science is good but it's almost nothing compared to the machinations of nature itself when it comes to revealing fundamental truth about reality.
I only hope we can turn the tide.
All of the Old Testament is interpretive metaphor, so the original Fall story can work equally well as both prophecy and prologue.
The Fall deals with loss of innocence and the acceptance of consequences, which is a parable that has the remarkable flexibility to work at any level. Every decade for the last 100 years, we could safely say that civilisation as a whole was less innocent than the decade before it, in that we were more aware of ourselves and our impact on each other and the environment. With each generation of awareness we are imbued with more responsibility to take care of ourselves and our world, but we don't do it because those that pushed the innocence-lost envelope are also the ones emotionally capable of externalising the costs of doing so.
The thing about civilisation is that we can't really envisage an END to it - we can easily imagine ourselves amongst the stars, continuing to lose innocence the further we go... I often wonder if it's possible to progress AT ALL without our cancerous approach stomping a steel heeled boot on our environment and on other people.
Is progress possible without suffering? That's a question for bigger minds than mine, i think. I need an economist, a sociologist, and a philosopher, stat!
The people doing the manipulating are generally getting what they want, why would they try to pull the system apart?
If you want to read ad-supported news, then you will be stuck with news that is intended to have the lowest possible production costs, and garner the most possible eyeballs. This business does not support nuance, because nuance is expensive and less audacious.
Nuanced reporting exists on essentially every topic that it is possible to care about, but it is often in smaller paid publications.
Earlier this week I spoke to someone who wanted me to subscribe to a left-wing newspaper (klassekampen for the Norwegians here). I said my media budget was full - for now - but I'd like to add them - together with one from the other side at a later stage.
Then she says: that's not unusual, a good number of our readers also read resett (right wing web site that I usually don't read.)
That surprised me a bit, and in a good way.
Edit to add: I'd of course be equally happy to know if many right-leaning people read left-leaning news, and I've no reason to believe it is different.
I'm happy to read articles both from the political left and right in Sweden, but I refuse to read the anti-immigration websites by the far right. It just makes me feel dirty, and I don't want to be in their company. I already know that even if we start from the same sets of facts, our conclusions will be completely different, and there's no need for me to even see their proposed solutions.
Speaking of all sides, there's a Swedish web forum called Flashback that is a great example of this. It's very pro free speech, which means that you have posters who are openly nazis discussing politics with communists and others. You have to have a thick skin to read some of the stuff posted, but I'm really happy that there is a platform for these people to meet and discuss, because nothing gets better by only having individual echo chambers.
I think individual spaces are also important, where you agree with people and don't have to fight all the time, but we also need spaces for people with different backgrounds to discuss.
I would really like a free Bloomberg terminal tho
Possibly, but that is fundamentally different from infotainment. Even with that bias, Bloomberg never writes an article which fails to answer the most basic questions one could ask about a given story (unlike most "news" ). I also qualify them as decent because they generally report trends not anecdotes. Contrast with your local TV station running 1000 crime stories a week no matter the crime stats.
I find Frontline to be some of the most nuanced, deep dive journalism which is readily available.
Here's one example among many that perhaps these are not good sources of information.
There must be a better way to truly accomplish keeping government accountable. Think about your locus of control. Most reporting is about things that do not directly affect you, you cannot change them, and they have some emotional value that keeps them in the news. Where you can effect change is in your locality, or with your local representatives, voting in larger elections, writing letters to staff, joining advocacy groups, etc. I think the constant drumbeat of bad news makes people less likely to do any of these things.
If you want to learn more you can spend more time on researching the issues. Otherwise you could vote on a single issue, or just pick the party that is supposed to represent people like you with a similar hierarchy of values.
The US also doesn't have mandatory voting, so declining to vote just signals that you have delegated concern over civic issues to other people who are willing to make that (sometimes significant) sacrifice of time, energy, and money.
There are far better news outlets, and I agree that press and media need to exist and be free for the purpose proposed above, I would just argue that in the most popular media, that isn't really what's happening for most of their audience, and I personally am far happier not seeking out mainstream news myself because of how sensationalist and biased most of it is. I'll eat my hotel breakfasts and airport snacks somewhere other than in front of the complimentary TV.
Check out the Media Bias Chart: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/?v=402f03a963ba
To know what's going on you only need 10 minutes a day skimming stories from a few outlets at the top of the triangle. You can have a remarkably well rounded knowledge of global affairs just from following Reuters' freely available Top News RSS feed. 10min a day on that feed and you will have a better picture of the world than 90% of your peers.
Most people's media consumption is far greater than 10min a day. They stick to one slope of the triangle or another. The problem with all these sites as you go down the slope is that they get increasingly more sensationalist, and even when they remain technically accurate they try to paint an engagement-driving, adversarial, perpetual crisis view of the world.
When you slide down the slope of the triangle you end up feeling like the world is doomed, the enemy is on the rise, everything is broken, because that's how the publisher wants you to feel, because they know it keeps you coming back.
Cut your media diet down, spend 80% of your time on the facts, and 20% on occasional long read analysis from both sides. You'll get smarter and your anxiety will disappear.
As for social media... from a news/events standpoint at least, it's just garbage. A billion lost souls jockeying for imaginary status with imaginary people. Avoid.
Where NPR, NYT, and CNN are deemed neutral and balanced, eh?
Such determinations say more about the determiner than the determined.
These days, I get most of my headlines from Reuters and AP. I also respect The Economist, Propublica, FiveThirtyEight, Washington Post, The Intercept, Miami Herald, Buzzfeed News, and New York Times. Of course, some more than others, but it seems that the quality of the journalism emerging from these outlets is relying more on the integrity of individual journalists with great track records as opposed to great teams (think Spotlight).
I’m sure just about every commenter here who follows the news knows of at least one article that tarnished the reputation of each of those outlets at some point in time. Maybe it was a low-effort payila piece, or a poorly written opinion column, or just straightup poor journalism that never got a retraction.
I see a big issue is that the news is frequently emotive based. In some cases this is helpful, when terrible stuff is going on. Other cases it makes mundane things seem worse. Or it makes things that don't affect us and/or we have no control over emotionally important. The latter is particularly harmful, imo. A lot of these make you feel like you are more informed than you are, because you're highly emotionally invested. I think video really promotes the emotional investment.
But the boring stuff allows you to become emotionally invested in what __you__ care about. Then the lack of emotional forcing makes you feel less informed, so if you care you spend time finding out more. This prevents people from being "armchair researchers" and fighting.
Personally, I find all of that to be too much of a firehouse, and prefer longer form reads.
For those, I’d recommend subscribing to physical copies of magazines (or digital copies of the physical copies).
Something about the pieces of paper or emails in my inbox beckons me to read. Some magazines (New Yorker, Economist, even WIRED) have first rate long form journalism.
They’ll usually have at least one substantial article that’s deeply or tangentially related to current news blurbs, so you stay “in the loop”.
Magazines are nice because they seem to respect the reader’s autonomy and intellectual curiosity, by avoiding tantrums, outrage, and diatribes, and focusing instead on nuance and themes. It’s a more literary way of digesting current events than twitter or what have you, and it can even be relaxing!
When I'm feeling a little more capacity for the news cycle, I might also listen to NPR's Up First, NYT's The Daily, and NPR's The Indicator.
So, how does that work out for you?
There's no practical reason to be informed beyond what's in your city's Sunday print edition. Anything more than that is entertainment.
 It occurs to me that city dailies are so out of fashion that some of you might not understand why I recommend the Sunday edition. The Sunday edition is the largest edition of the week and repeats stories that appeared on other days. It also includes some features and sections that are not included on any other day. If you only get one day, you want Sunday.
 This could be any big-city paper (e.g. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe). It doesn't matter.
(Some sources I like: PBS Newshour, ProPublica, the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Review of Books.)
And November is the only time it really matters. Until then, you can shake your tiny fist, but in November you get to make a choice that counts, literally.
You could follow it in real-time for the entertainment value, if you want. But if you actually want to make an informed choice when it matters, you'll have no trouble finding a book that summarizes it, and it will take far, far less time than trying to keep up with it (and remember it all come November).
This is something that is particularly noticeable as you get older so that you remember things 10 or 20 years ago. Of course, your own memories can be inaccurate, but people who weren't around at the time are generally completely unmoored because nobody examines primary sources.
I also doubt there are a lot of people who were following the impeachment because they wanted to decide whether or not to vote for Trump. If you already know how you'll vote, following the day to day political battles is, as you said, merely entertainment.
I assume people weren't watching to find out if he would be acquitted, either, although polls might be interesting to know.
Important people have been declaring odd things, like how they're sure he's learned his lesson, so it's hard to tell what people believe or expect.
That would be a similar situation to everyone following the advice of not becoming a musician (no music) or not becoming an astronaut (the international space station would have to shut down). Our society is based on specialization and every group of friends really only needs one person who knows what the news is talking about.
A lot of the news is mental junk food, and the idea that they are doing it for a better society is usually just an excuse for a bad habit. Even on the topics the news covers, people are usually left with a cartoonish narrative that's often worse than being completely ignorant on the issues.
Why would the news be the best source to judge your politicians?
I think if people in general took that approach, the effect on the government would be positive. Citizens consuming politics as entertainment and politicians approaching their job like YouTube celebrities are doing enormous damage.
I have found this to be effective. I'll read something like Reuters a few times a month. Events that are major that I need to care about sooner are talked about and I can't escape, so I go read up on them.
The truth is that there's not enough happening every day that needs your attention for you to stay informed (at least informed enough. Because we can't all be experts on everything, which I think the daily cycle gives you the impression that you are).
For regular news I don't read it during the week, but I will catch up on it during the weekend. It keeps me updated on ongoing situations (e.g. Corona virus, presidential elections) and let's me see what things stick around. If a story comes out Monday and it reappears Saturday it means it's worth considering since it survived the 24 hour cycle. Looking back I also pick headlines that seem interesting to me and read them even if it's something that's not reappearing for the weekend.
This way I avoid all the SHOCKING BREAKING NEWS that generally amounts to nothing much, I stay up to date on major issues, and I see what things are actual stories as opposed to clickbait.
If you read the news regularly you can quickly form the opinion that things are terrible. If you read up on things you'll find that in general things are better than they've ever been. Better obviously does not imply good, even so it's way better to be alive in 2020 than in 1920 everywhere on the planet.
I went from long time news-junkie phase to no-news phase to just-enough-news phase.
Being a citizen in a democracy is an active process and the active part doesn't have to take too much time. For example, you can check news just two times a week.
For those who are saying there are no neutral news organizations, here is my take:
All people are biased. Organizations are made up of people. Hence, you won't get an organization without bias.
The goal is not to find organizations with no bias. The goal is to get your news from organizations with high standards of journalistic integrity and professionalism. Organizations that are aware of thier bias and try to seperate their news coverage from thier opinion section. There are many such news organizations (probably more than any time in history). Just pick two or three such outlets and you will stay informed.
The ruling elite long ago exercised masterful control over the masses through media manipulation - it has been a hundred years of refinement.
If you want to hold your government accountable, you need to demand more leaks and whistleblowing. This is the only effective way of keeping the power structure on its toes - because it does everything it can to maintain power, including control mass information at scale.
I've never found the "News" to be anything more than "what the elite want me to think about the world" which is why, switching it off, life got immediately better.
I'm curious though, how does the average citizen hold those in power accountable? OK so you vote, but tons of other people vote and are often uninformed about what is going on or are completely apathetic. The recent news about Roger Stone's sentencing to me proves how little power we as average citizens have in actually holding others accountable, especially when those in power have ties to other rich, powerful, and well connected people.
This is most pertinent at the local level where your vote has more impact and it's more feasible to take action on specific issues when you learn about them.
Reading about presidential scandals every day when you likely already know who you're voting for just drags you down and benefits no one besides the media companies profiting off your attention.
Here is the link:
The exception I see is at the local level, where more information has more upside than downside. But I’ve also found social media dominated by national politics without much local information.
Probably not much. Lots of information that people get from the news is misleading at best anyway.
And you can do simple retrospective voting without reading the news: did I do well in the last four years? Then re-elect the party in power. Things are going badly? Then vote for an opposition party.
As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?
The rule of law is threatened by a subtle erosion of norms in the administration of justice, but your 401k's up, so let's vote the incumbents back in?
That vote has an enormous impact on your own life. Bigger than any ballot box.
But it also has a comparatively big impact on the place you leave behind and the place you are joining. Just your tax revenue alone will be so much more impactful than your marginal vote was.
> As in you did you personally do well financially or what have you? So you're voting as the ethical equivalent of a four year old?
Yes. But that's not because I think it's a particularly good way to vote; I just think that it would be an improvement on what people are doing de facto. See eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_the_Rational_Voter
Even things that weren’t typically political or politicized these days they are.
So yeah, I spend my time on other things. Like for example on reading stuff on HN.
This falls into the "circle of concern > circle of influence" problem identified by Covey.
I tried to replace the topics I was reading about in the news with books on those same topics. You'll get far more about, say, the Israel-Palestine conflict from reading one 300 page book than you will from reading 300 1 page news articles.
On top of that I'd pick up about one news magazine or newspaper a month or so, just to stay on top of what the current issues actually were. I did this for a couple of years.
That, however, was at a period of relative stability in western politics. The truth is that right now I'm too interested in the stories that are currently unfolding to only read about them once they've become history.
I'm slowly getting rid of national news as well, as many sources aren't there to inform, but now provide primarily gossip-y and dramatized opinions. I really don't care about your opinion as a journalist unless I'm specifically reading the opinion section. This is just the result of the monopolization of media and the profit motive behind it.
>And yet my life is the same as everyone elses. Not knowing what is going on, living in a country with a high standard of living and personal safety, doesn't affect me at all.
I often remind myself of this a lot. If I look out the window, nothing is happening, kids are playing in the yard, the sky is blue, things still go on. People tell me all of these terrible things going on, and while they probably are going on and I do care about a beneficial moral & ethical outcome, it just really has no effect on me. I know that's a privileged view and most in the world really don't have it this good, but the world goes on...
Of course, many news sources are unreliable, or biased, and most voters are poorly informed or easily manipulated, and many important issues are so complex that learning about them would take up most of people's spare time, but if people make more of an effort to stay informed, and learn to recognize bias and disinformation, and vote accordingly, things might become better than they would otherwise be.
Like I said, some news manages to filter through to me. And it's often completely pointless.
For example Youtube sometimes recommends news from my country to me, even if I never watch it. in 2019 I can remember them recommending news about some missing girl up north. But I had to hear from my friends about a handicapped guy who was shot 25 times by the police for playing with a toy gun. They didn't recommend that one.
I do vote btw. Since I don't consider myself capable of keeping up with politics I vote with my instincts, as most others. I either vote for the social democrats/left or the green party.
I don't fuss over details or little missteps they might have done. I believe the green party has the right direction and their voice needs to be stronger in parliament. Equally I believe the left still cares about workers rights and unions.
If you're referring to Kristallnacht that would have been about five years too late. It's happened more recently, elsewhere.
Political parties change what they stand for over time, sometimes drastically.
Yes, you can visit web sites which help you to decide who to vote for by asking you questions (and which, incidentally, collect your responses for whatever purpose they choose), but your answers, and the recommendation of who to vote for, might change if you became better informed.
I vehemently disagree that the current news media is the way to reach that goal. As things stand as of this moment I think we would be better off if nobody read the news.
Misinformed is no better than uninformed, and often worse.
Yes, you need to learn what's happening, and why, from a variety of sources.
If I avoid all news to the extent that I no longer no what's been going on in the last few months, my anxiety level goes way way down. There's a washout period of a couple weeks, and after that it gets really easy; I no longer feel the need to pop dopamine with tidbits of current events. Not even a little. I avoid it like a former addict avoids drugs.
Even if you lived in a country with a low standard of living and less personal safety ... would knowing about the world events really change anything? Important local things usually don't make the national or world news, yet you tend to learn them unless you're completely isolated.
And the world events that would change things for anyone anywhere, like being on on the brink of nuclear war ... would you knowing about it have any effect on it?
My dysfunctional family members are always getting riled up online, blocking each other, quitting and quietly rejoining, etc. Some of them are into politics, which makes it worse.
I think there must be an addictive component to this stuff -- not just the FB scroolers, but the twitter outragers, the SJW cancel cultists. There's a pornographic aspect to the spectacle of it all that needs to be acknowledged.
The curse I carry is that I have a very good memory. So I'm relatively young still but I feel like everything just goes round and round.
Plagues in the news, terrorist attacks, family feuds. It all just repeats.
HN isn't really about human connections or personal interactions. We might discuss them, but HN isn't designed or usually used for creating them.
On the other end you have traditional media with fewer social elements and a limited number of content publishers: the press, books, television, radio, and read-only websites.
Right here in the comments.
I don't even watch live TV anymore, unless something I'm actually interested in is happening. I've actually watched Senate and House proceedings and election results on public TV (over the air, since I quit cable years ago), and gotten more informarion tham any news channel could dish out.
I am about to quit Twitter, because I realize how utterly useless it is. And I'll probably quit Mastodon, too, because I don't use it either.
So many people say "I can't leave, because I want to keep up with X." Since I've quit Facebook, people call and text me more than before. In lieu of sending out some mass communication and blaming me for not seeing it in a flood of atrocious content, people who want to stay connected take the time to do so in a more direct way.
My mental health has never been better, and I’m not sure I’ve missed anything important.
If only there was a feature rich app with a clean and pleasant interface (would prefer it to be paid). The defunct app Path comes to mind. It was quite good except that it was a privacy nightmare too.
But then their "life" updates would start to be overwhelmingly overrun by their fake, political, spam updates.
That alone has turned my feed into my friends families and their kids, sports trash talking and the more urgent or relevant local stuff. It’s great.
TLDR: if you want to improve your well being, first recommendation is to start drinking a gallon of water per day. Second recommendation is to avoid the news, especially the political stuff.
We have sensationalist news here in Europe too. Hard right wing parties gaining power by the day. Refugee homes set on fire.
All this has filtered through to me even without watching the news. I'm still aware of it without seeking it out.
If you live in the states and have a relatively good life, safety net through a good insurance and a stable job, then I don't think you should worry about the news.
Of course I can only guess. I can only speculate based on what I read about the United States on forums. It sounds awful. IT workers especially are often very vulnerable without unions.
So in the US I can totally understand the desire to stay abreast of what's going on.
But how long does that persist? The real battle in politics today is not so much between left and right as between "fixers" and "wreckers", and if you're one of the categories of people targeted for wrecking things can potentially get very bad very fast.
We live in a world of long, carefully constructed, lean supply chains. It may not be obvious what fractures the chain and results in serious problems.
That constant dopamine cycle...might as well just do coke and at least have great sex :)
If you consciously tune it out, how do you know it doesn't affect you?
Answer: you can't know. But it does.
I sometimes do that but I'm never able to quit it permanently.
By that time, it was already too late. They had elected a paranoid, despotic government a month before, and the fire itself was merely a fig leaf for things they were going to do anyway. They'd been using the media as propaganda for years, counting on people who read newspaper articles to be easily terrorized, and vote in a government that promised security.
It wasn't the fire that changed their lives. It was their belief in the daily media. If they took a calmer, more skeptical approach, things might have turned out better for them.
What could go wrong?
It's also a privilege to be able to be politically engaged. Both ways of being are completely protected and legal (in America at least). And both privileges are available to all - even the disadvantaged groups that the slogan implies must be politically engaged for their own survival. It would probably serve their self interest to be more engaged, sure, but in reality they still have the choice. The ethical standard of mandatory political engagement that you're appealing to is not universally recognized or enforced. And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?
What a wildly defensive response to something that wasn't even directed at you. Or maybe YOU think it was and believe it, which is why you got defensive.
See, If you are rich you don't need to worry about issues that impact the poor. If you are white you don't need to worry about issues that impact blacks. If you are a man you don't need to worry about issues that impact women. If you are straight, you don't need to worry about issues that affect gays.
Sensing a pattern?
"Substance" is being mighty generous. It was more like a temper tantrum than a critique. Shall we review?
You started with:
"...an empty slogan weaponizing empathy to guilt whoever it's directed at towards supporting your political leaning."
Wow, that's quite a claim. Let's see how you back it up...
Oh wait, you didn't. You simply state "both sides are good people" in not so many words. Sure, it is an explanation, but HARDLY a logical explanation.
And then you ended with this gem:
"And if you think of places/times where that ethic of mandatory political life is or was enforced, do you really want to be like that?"
Your fallacious ethical balancing act completely ignores the substance of privilege, you simply choose to ignore the concept! Way to dodge the issue.
Whereas I gave concrete examples as to why it is a privilege to be disengaged.
So spare me your bleeding-heart puling about "weaponization" of truth. It is people like you who hide behind "logic" yet fail to actually use it that are the problem.
If something is important enough, someone within my circle will inform me of it.
Most things on the news is terrible for you, why? Because the majority of stuff you can't actually action and your brain processes it as a threat I.e war in the middle east.
Think globally, act locally.
Abstaining from frequent infotainment aka "news" does not equate to being ignorant of important things happening in the world, nor does it equate to abdicating responsibility for all the things you can practically influence.
That's a great example. The hypothetical Brazilian could vote for a politician that does not promote burning the rainforest , which contributes to the negative effects of climate change on the people of Sierra Leone 
This line of argument conveniently sidesteps the question of whether mainstream news is the best way to find out what is going on in the world or learn about electoral candidates.
It can be reasonably argued that allowing one's self to be influenced (or, manipulated) by mainstream news is likely more of a hindrance than a help in making good decisions or taking meaningful action to improve the world or support/elect good candidates.
By avoiding the day-to-day barrage, one is better able to focus their attention and energy on things that are important and impactful.
There are plenty of ways to learn about what is going on in the world and find out about electoral candidates, outside the corporate media circus.
Another commenter said I would have missed the nationalist party in germany starting to harass jews if I didn't watch the news. My reply below:
I'm pretty sure I would hear about kids breaking shop owners windows for being of a certain cultural origin. Even without checking the news.
Complete ignorance was the premise of my remark so it doesn't really make sense to say it's far from complete ignorance.
The fact that it doesn't affect you means you're in an incredibly privileged position in your country, your life is not the same as everyone else's.
It saves people a nasty surprise when the policies they relied upon fall out from under them, or to try and head off future issues by calling up their representatives. For example, I was able to call up my representative regarding changes in immigration policy. Because other people aren't paying attention and don't call their representatives, I actually have an outsized voice and influence on the matter!
RE becoming politically active: it's good to be informed, I totally agree. But that's not something you get from the news. I can't imagine you watching CNN and saying "whaaaaaat? I'm going to call my representative right now". You'll usually have that filtered by whatever organization/initiative you delegate that to. They will relay the important stuff to you and ask you to become active. That's very different from watching the news imho.
Use a filter by reading a monthly or quarterly publication. You will get the information (that's still considered print-worthy after the next news cycle), but not the hectic, emotional manipulation and outrage.
Twitter I would understand a little better. It's such a tar pit of negative energy, insults, rage bait, etc
I can't. Yes, it's a failure on me, but my experience is better without Facebook in my life.
You mention negativity, and that's part of it. I saw a steady stream of "the world's on fire" type posts. The other side, the rosy view of my friends and family also wasn't great. It was a steady stream of my brain using this as a chance to remind me I can't live up to these people, that I'm falling behind, and that in general, I suck.
It's not true. I could have crafted an equal fantasy and posted it, but I'm not that person. I could let the positive and negative posts go without influencing my mental well-being, but I'm apparently not that person.
All of this is a long way of saying, for me, Facebook is baggage I had to carry around with me. I didn't need to open it, but I knew it was there, ready to mock me at any time. Now my account is gone, and that bit of unnecessary baggage is gone. It added nothing to my life, only made it worse.
One of facebook’s worst long run mistakes was optimizing for engagement vs. enjoyment. It boosts metrics but makes people quit or go cold turkey.
Instagram has never felt like that.
Facebook showed me stuff I didn’t care about it that aggravated me, so I stopped using it. now I’m in thE 5 min a week category. But I’d rather follow more people, but only the important stuff
I try to behave on Facebook like it's 2005 again, before the outrage or glamour.
That being said I think it's totally reasonable that the difficulty each of us experiences in trying to exert such control will vary.
I'm one of the normies like the grandparent comment. I don't use Facebook all that much, and most of what I see there is just a stream of banal life events from a selection of people that I'd otherwise not hear from. Most of it isn't that interesting directly, but I'll admit that my life is enriched by retaining these relationships I'd otherwise have dropped. It's definitely not something I feel bad after using.
Obviously that's not your experience, and there's nothing wrong with that. Certainly you shouldn't be forced to use this platform if it makes you unhappy. Really this just goes down to "people are all different and we all have to find our paths through the world". Technology changes the battlefield a little at the margins, but it hasn't changed the war.
This was part of the problem for me; it made me think I had more friends than I actually did. What I really had was an app that showed me what everyone I used to know at some point was up to, and many of us start to mistake that for friendship. At some point I had the epiphany that I don't really know the kids from my high school friend circle anymore, and keeping up with them doesn't improve my life. We had our time, the friendship fizzled out as they tend to do, and the healthiest thing for me was to just move on.
My life improved after quitting Facebook because it forced me to be more intentional with who I spend my time on. Rather than passively blasting everyone's news feed with something, I send it individually to the people I want to see it. It makes me be an active participant in friendships, which is something I've had trouble with (at least when using Facebook).
What a funny world we live in, in our heads.
well social media is designed to give you little dopamine hits all the time and we all know when we think about it for a second that the constant, cheap stimulation is bad, but it also hijacks our lizard brains and it's designed to work that way.
The big problem I think is that we let the designers of these applications get away with exactly the 'your preferences indicate you like it' line, well the same applies to gamblers in a casino.
And then the next political cycle hit and I straight up quit. I found the political ads more offensive than anything, and I've never been back since.
FB is a terrible place, ignore the poster you're responding to because they very well could be putting on airs while you're trying to be more honest about things. That's the nature of social media, of which HN is included.
But I do recall an instance where everyone in some college class or something were supposed to abstain from social media for a week, whether they had a healthy relationship with it or not and the group reported substantial increases in life satisfaction.
If I asked you to abstain from any behavior for a week to see if it would improve your life... I bet most studies would show abstention helped.
The relevant question is how this intervention helped, compared to other interventions that could be seen as similar. Eg, if you didn’t watch tv for a week, how would you feel?
(Also, worst Oxford comma ever...)
Social Networking is not inherently toxic, and quitting many things: sugar, television, even meat, might have the similar effects for some small group of people.
In fact, the entire thread is based on three levels of indirection of misinformation: the Bloomberg article misquoted the paper, and the short-summary referencing Bloomberg made it worse.
Here is the summary of the findings :
"We find that deactivating Facebook for the four weeks before the 2018 US midterm election (i) reduced online activity while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone
and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in post-experiment Facebook use"
So that's a little bit more information now isn't it? And completely conflates the Facebook/wellbeing issue with a host of other things.
Most poignantly, stopping Facebook usage reduced the amount of factual knowledge a person had access too. So maybe that's not so good?
Maybe by 'removing Facebook' people are simply a little bit more removed from the issues of the day (like elections) many of which can be contentious.
So 'ignorance is bliss' is the result of the study? Or is it really something materially related to Social Networking.
I think we'll need to do some more studying to find out.
How can we distinguish the effect from a general “I’m making a change” groundswell of feel goodery?
Picking up moderate drinking isn't going to make you healthier / more successful.
It's just that successful people tend to be healthier and also are more likely to have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
It’s like one person has juice and the other has brandy.
This article is just a hit piece. This is the trash on HN these days.
Personally, my experiences on FB are extremely tame and similar to yours. However I intentionally sabotaged my experience by unfollowing nearly everyone several years ago. Even my rather fallow feed is an engine of engagement and addictive impulse, in part because of years of conditioning myself to go there when I was bored.
People with lives to lead off social media have fewer of these problems.
Similarly for Twitter, I don't follow people who post ragebait or feel the need to comment on everything.
Take control of your social media. It's great!
> I don't get how the site is such a specter of misery for some people
I understand what you're saying; it doesn't have much sway over me either. But it does over a lot of other folks, by design. And that pull is very real, and quite powerful.
That's fine, great even, but do you believe those people are reporting their own experiences accurately?
And orange website isn't?
facebook is all your friends' racist friends yelling at you, interspersed with bizarre ads for products you'll never buy and sponsored links to phony news sites. it's a completely different dynamic and it's much more insidious.
But it seems to me that there's a substantive difference between the default-circles of Facebook where you see what your 'friends' post/share, and the default-broadcast of Twitter where more things are shouted publicly to the ether.
To be sure, posts on either can be 100% public, and, in theory, you only see what you 'follow' on Twitter, but the design of the platforms is very different, and they have very different incentive structures. (Despite Facebook's incessant drive to increase engagement).
And I think depression and anxiety comes more from all the terrible "news" you get from around the world, it probably applies to "news" in general.
But I also use Facebook primarily for organizing events and group activities.
1. Deliberately go through and prune your friends list down to people you actually interact with or care about updates from
2. Any time someone shares something you think is dumb, click on the corner of the post and select "Hide all from <page>". This lets you hide anything your friends share from various meme sites without blocking their legitimate posts
3. Any time you see an ad for a product you don't care about or don't want to see, click "Hide ad" then it will pop up a dialog and you can select "Hide all ads from <company>"
4. Go through your "liked" pages and unlike / unfollow any that are irrelevant to you.
I do all of the above and Facebook often just stops loading content for me after the first 20 or so posts.
My wife does none of the above and can easily scroll for an hour without reaching an end to the content.
> One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis (as an aspect of Aphrodite), the goddess of revenge, noticed this behaviour after learning the story and decided to punish Narcissus. Once, during the summer, he was getting thirsty after hunting, and the goddess lured him to a pool where he leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth. Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it, as if it were somebody else. Unable to leave the allure of his image, he eventually realized that his love could not be reciprocated and he melted away from the fire of passion burning inside him, eventually turning into a gold and white flower.
(*I've been slightly concerned that it will be depressing one way or the other, either three years' messages and invitations to things I missed, or little of that! Since I just sort of stopped logging in, I never posted that I wasn't using it for example.)
But I couldn't login. Facebook wanted me to prove my identity by contacting a set of my 'friends' that it chose, and I had no idea who they were. The only other option was to upload a scan of my passport, which felt a bit much considering my only aim was to get off properly and be appalled at the data it already has on me.
My FB feed is mostly depressing these days, as it is filled with images of (among other things) maimed and murdered children. I can see how avoiding that would probably make me happier and more productive, but FB also helps me stay up to date on amazing humanitarian work being done in liberated areas. I also feel that burying my head in the sand would be a betrayal of my fellow Syrians who have, and still are, sacrificing so that my children as well as theirs won’t have to fear state terrorism.
Context is important. In this case, he actually has some pretty defensible reasons for using Facebook this way: active suppression of local independent journalists and low activity by independent Western journalists. My guess is his alternative to Facebook is probably some pro-Assad propaganda rag. As bad as Facebook is, that's worse.
Your reaction would be more appropriate for someone chose to rely on FB for news about the US or Western Europe.
As just one measure, FB themselves deleted over 3 Billion fake accounts between april and sept last year. These are accounts that provided a phone number for verification. The disinformation operations on that site are like nothing anyone has ever seen.
They're also responsible for things like extremely biased reporting against Myanmar (no reporting about Ang sang su kyis speech at the genocide tribunal except "she didn't say the word rohinga!"). It's no surprise that there's also a strong campaign by the OIC to slander Myanmar which is running concurrently
Facebook is probably a net-negative for Syrians all things considered. Your social network may know the truth of who is committing 98% of the crimes, who invited ISIS/terrorists into Syria, and who is responsible for a modern-day genocide (half a million people erased from existence so far), but unfortunately that's not the case for the vast majority of people.
After Syria is destroyed, the history books will ask: how did we allow that to happen? What happened to Never Again? Social media will be part of the answer. We are reduced to tears when watching a film about Rwanda, and merely confused when hearing about Syria. Dictators love it when you are confused, because truth is their greatest enemy. In a state of confusion, the truth is not fully resolved. Moral clarity is dead. The solution starts with caring strongly about this problem. Only then can we begin to address it.
I would be pleasantly surprised if we're not both downvoted. You have my solidarity. I know how hard it is for you to receive zero empathy, and sometimes even aggression, when speaking the truth of who slaughtered your people and deprived you of your country. Keep telling the truth regardless. Part of the problem (of confusion and jadedness) inadvertently originated in the tech industry, and part of the solution will come from the tech industry. It won't know or care about the issue until victims come forth and make the problem clear. The tech industry needs to hear your voice. Creating a tool that is, on net, an accessory to perpetrators of genocide and manipulators of the public, without fixing it, is very, very problematic. Separately, Youtube is deleting video evidence of the genocide (even though it said it doesn't mean to). Many of the posters of those videos are no longer alive, or not in a situation where they can raise a dispute with Youtube. That is perfectly legal, and almost noone knows or cares.
FACEBOOK, GOOGLE, are you listening? A GENOCIDE is going on. Facebook, your platform is being leveraged by the perpetrators of genocide as a modern-day Pravda of epic proportions. Google/Youtube, you are continuing to delete critical video evidence of the genocide from your servers forever even though activists put you on notice. Help.
The UN was hamstrung by Russia and China's veto power.
No smaller power was willing to take on Russia in a proxy war.
Mass arbitrary execution - https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/middleeast/syria-executions-a...
Rape and sexual violence used for political means -
Deliberate Syrian & Russian Air Force targeting of hospitals and systematic erasure of medical personnel - https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/03/syrian-and...
Chemical weapons used to gas civilian neighborhoods, including many children, even after the supposed removal of the chemical weapon stockpile (which earned Obama praise and earned the OPCW a Nobel Prize):
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5bM8kTOsOk (warning: disturbing footage of gassed kids)
Assad inviting terrorists into the country to use them to confuse the world, slander protesters, and obfuscate the genocide - https://www.thedailybeast.com/assad-henchman-heres-how-we-bu...
"Over 500,000 Syrians have been killed and 13 million Syrians have been forced from their homes in the worst humanitarian crisis since the World War II" - Holocaust Museum (emphasis added, that really means something coming from the Holocaust Museum)
and Assad/Russia want people to believe that "the alternative is worse." The alternative is self-rule by the sweet, generous, loving people of Syria. Somehow, a social media campaign has convinced the world otherwise. Saying that there is a worse alternative, when half a million Syrians were killed (and counting), is to reduce Syrians to subhumans. That is especially insulting given that the alternative is often cited as "ISIS," even though Assad is the one who invited ISIS into the country, and the primary victims of ISIS were Syrians.
Pravda is in our Facebook news feed, and that of our friends whom influence our opinions.
I think it’s important to distinguish between regular people on the one hand and politicians and bureaucrats on the other. I still have faith in a large section of humanity, which sees these atrocities and is outraged by them, but often feels powerless to stop them.
It is also available on the PBS Video app. It has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.