If you feel angry, anxious, or depressed while watching, reading, or listening to the news, you might be suffering from spiritual indigestion. Just as consuming junk food is bad for our physical health, junk news is bad for our spiritual health. Therefore, we must develop a more refined taste for the news.
Junk news contains artificial ingredients. The first one is bias. Not all media companies care to uphold the journalistic objectivity standard. Some companies slant the news any way they can to conform as closely as possible to the worldview of their audiences.
Those who watch Fox News and MSNBC are presented with very different versions of the same news. This has helped to fan the flames of discord in our country because viewers of both networks insist that their notion of what’s happening in the world is correct because they heard it on the news.
But it wasn’t really the news; it was their news. It was news spun to correspond to the perceptions of a certain crowd, not to correspond with reality. We love junk news as much as we love junk food. It tastes so good! That’s because the ego loves to be right. The truth is that the clear lines drawn between the villains and the heroes are – in reality – not that clear.
This truth makes us very uncomfortable, but we must face the discomfort. We must insist upon news that is presented as objectively as possible not only to avoid spiritual indigestion, but also to decrease disunity and to increase our ability to make informed, rational decisions in our democracy.
The second artificial ingredient in junk news is melodrama. Melodrama adds emotional “spice” to news stories to keep people tuning in. The most popular spice is fear. Fear not only boosts ratings by keeping us tuned in, but it also keeps us stressed out, which makes us far easier to manipulate and control.
The constant bombardment of melodramatic news has unfortunately trained us well to apply spice to the events of our own lives, creating a society filled with Drama Kings and Drama Queens.
How do we refine our news consumption? First, we can consume more unbiased news. To indulge the ego’s desire for biased news causes it to become inflated, and we certainly don’t need more inflated egos in our society.
While complete objectivity is impossible, that’s no reason to throw objectivity to the wind. Fortunately, there are news outlets that do their best to uphold journalistic objectivity, such as the Washington Post and BBC.
Second, if we’re feeling angry, anxious, or depressed, the news might be too spicy. I find that a good way to avoid the spice is to simply read the headlines. I get enough information from just the headlines to keep informed well enough to praise God for the good news and to pray about the bad news and for those who are suffering.
Junk news isn’t all we have to be concerned about. These days, there’s also fake news, which is even worse for our spiritual health. The spread of fake news makes refining our tastes even more important.
Fortunately, people are getting sick and tired of their spirits being sick and tired. People are becoming more aware of junk news and fake news, and they are choosing spiritually healthier news, which can only lead to a spiritually healthier society in the future.