Too Much News

The rise of 24×7 news media has ensured that news gets to people faster. One doesn’t have to wait for the morning newspaper or the evening news to know what has happened.

Also the rise of digital media brings with itself other sets of problems.I read the following quote and immediately wanted to write it down:

 

Alain de Botton writes in The News—A User’s Manual: “The modern world is teaching us that there are dynamics far more insidious and cynical still than censorship in draining people of political will; these involve confusing, boring and distracting the majority away from politics by presenting events in such disorganized, fractured and intermittent way that a majority of the audience is unable to hold on to the thread of the most important issues for any length of time.”

The-News-by-Allain-de-Botton

The proliferation of the media and the rise of the social media has essentially ensured that the audience keeps getting bored and needs more and more new issues to agitate or at least feel agitated about.

The point, as Botton writes, is that “news organizations broadcast a flow of random-sounding bulletins, in great numbers but with little explanation of context, within an agenda” that keeps changing, and “without giving any sense of the ongoing relevance of an issue that had seemed pressing only a short while before.” This is interspersed with constant antics of film stars.

And this, as Botton writes, “would be quite enough to undermine most people’s capacity to grasp political reality – as well as any resolve they might have summoned to alter it.”

This is something that we should worry about.

PS: Some more quotes from The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton

 

In defense of being bored

“It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can do no other, it will writhe before you in ecstasy.” – Franz Kafka

Most of us think of being bored at work as a negative experience, but there’s some fascinating research on the role of boredom in promoting creative thinking.

In the first study, conducted by Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman, participants had to copy names from a phone book. It wasn’t even a cool phone book with fantasy names like Dumbledore or Flitwick. It was a standard phone book that pretty much nobody uses anymore.

After participants copied the names from the phone book, they engaged in divergent thinking exercises where they had to come up with multiple uses for an object. This bored group scored higher in divergent thinking than the control group.

They later modified this study by having participants read the phone book instead of writing out the names. This group reported higher levels of boredom and proved more successful in the divergent thinking exercise of naming multiple uses for an object.

The second study (by Karen Gasper and Brianna Middlewood) required people to watch videos that would elicit specific emotions. The group that watched only boring videos had to then look at three objects that were seemingly unrelated and determine how they were related. Unlike the first study, this group’s activity was focused more on convergent thinking.

Note the differences in both studies. The first experiment required participants to engage in a tedious, repetitive task. However, they were actively engaged in it. The second study required participants to sit passively through boring content. The first focused in divergent thinking and the second focused on convergent thinking.

However, both studies demonstrated that a period of boredom actually increased the level of creative thinking afterward.

Boredom Is The Start Of Creativity

It sounds counter-intuitive, but several recent studies show that boredom can actually fuel the creative process. Read more…..