Mar 10, 2010

Being Informed

How much "news" must we know?

The two extremes are: 1) keeping up with all the news on a daily basis, news in the Jewish world and news in the world at large, via print material, radio, and/or online news sites  2) no reading or listening, remaining oblivious to what's going on unless personally told by someone.

I've tried to do what I thought was "middle of the road," follow the news on a regular but not obssessive basis, scanning the headlines on Jewish news sites and clicking to read further on particular items of interest.  However, over the past many weeks I have taken a break from most of it because I was becoming increasingly perturbed by the onslaught of negativity.  In Jewish news there were the sad news items (child falls from porch), the scandalous news items (yet another frum person arrested or caught doing something wrong), the what's-wrong-with-us news items detailing how frum society is on the brink of disaster for a myriad of reasons.  In general news there were plenty of downbeat items.

What is it costing us when we allow ourselves to be exposed to daily negativity? I think it's robbing us of our simchas ha'chaim - joie de vivre.  Considering that our frum publications have been informing us of the problem of depression in our midst, perhaps one step to take to increase our positivity and bitachon is to avoid voluntarily reading an excess of negative material. 

Even better, how about letting publishers of magazines and news sites know that we want to read upbeat, inspirational news items? There are plenty of wonderful things happening all around us.  Instead of yet another article telling us about formerly frum kids and their deterioration, how about an article about frum kids and their accomplishments in learning, derech eretz, and chesed? Instead of hearing about the tragedy of marriages breaking up or not happening in the first place, how about articles about people happily married for decades? As for chesed and wonderful initiatives on the part of groups and individuals, there is endless material!

Yidden zennen gut! Let's hear about it!


  1. For myself, I read "negative" news because I see what is going on around me and want to know what is being done about it. From what it appears, very little is being done and most people must search within themselves to see what can be done. I don't see too many who are offering guidance. If I did not read the news I would still know that there are those suffering terrible poverty but are able bodied and capable of working, tuitions that are beyond people's ability to pay, kids who are off the derech, singles who are stuck with few possibilities, and frum people who are facing incarceration for crimes (not for teaching Torah). I don't need the news to tell me that frum life is "overpriced" but I feel comfort seeing that others see it as well.
    Usually I don't see the news or use the computer during Pesach because I don't have time. If there is news, someone else reports it. Some members of our family have an aversion to computers and somehow survive without news. To them, a new recipe is news.

  2. I don't follow news and my husband knows not to repeat terrible pieces of information to me. I may be judged by other for my self imposed shelterdness but in order to function and not lose myself in all the horror the news brings to the forefront, I need to block it out. When I go online other then when working, I don't go to news sites, I look for interesting things to read that are inspirational, things that will benefit me or my family etc. And if something major happens that I need to know about, I'll find out about it, no worries there.