Should We Pay Attention To The News?

Sometimes it seems that trust with our journalistic enterprises is at an al-time low. Should we even pay attention to the news?

One problem with the way we consume our news is that it is becoming ever more partisan. Whatever your political beliefs may be, there is a cable channel, website, or newspaper that will reinforce that view. Other sources are, of course, “fake news” and must be lying.

In addition, the way the news is currently being reported is hyper-sensationalized. If it bleeds, it leads, as the saying goes. Whatever gets ratings or clicks is what tends to drive news cycles these days.

So that seems like a problem with how the news is presented, not with the news itself. If we could simply supply some journalistic standards, maybe we could fix the current problem of divisive, misleading  coverage that oftentimes spills over into overt propaganda.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How much of our thoughts are our own?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How much is enough?’


But even politically neutral, factual reporting creates a problem: a distorted view of reality. Negative stories tend to be more noteworthy than positive ones. A child being abused is news, but 10,000 children not being being abused isn’t.

If you hear a constant drumbeat of negative news stories, your natural inclination is to think the world is worse than it actually is. To illustrate, violence has been falling in the U.S. for decades now, and yet many Americans think crime is worse than it has ever been.

And yet, in order to have a functioning democracy, you need to have a well-informed electorate. How can we, as a society, be well-informed without reporters reporting on that society?

Is there a way to tune out the news and yet stay informed? Is there a way to fix the current broken system to make it work better for us? Should we pay attention to the news, or ignore it for our own well-being?

Related questions: What news from the last year made you optimistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

 

 

What Do You Do To Clear Your Mind?

One of the most common problems surrounding mental health is cluttered thinking. Do you have any strategies to clear your mind?

There are many reasons why your brain may not be acting a peak efficiency. As a result, if you cannot clear your mind of distracting thoughts, you likely will be unable to focus. This in turn may lead to not being able to accomplish much.

For example, there may be a physical problem with your brain that negatively impacts your mental health. There might be a hormone imbalance, or a physical malformation, or something else entirely. In addition, neurologists still don’t know exactly how the brain works — or why it malfunctions.

However, even if the brain is fine on a physiological level, there may still be distractions. Too little sleep may lead to a decrease in performance. You might be worried or anxious about something else, and unable to block out your other concerns.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


Even in the case of nothing being wrong at all, you still may have trouble concentrating. If you have a lengthy mental to-do list, you may be thinking about emails you need to answer, tasks that you need to do, or errands you need to run. These things might take away from your ability to focus on one primary task.

In that case, clearing your mind of mental clutter is necessary. However, doing so is easier said than done. Do you have any tips or tricks that you follow for this? When your mind is racing, how do you calm it? Do you try, say, meditation? Isolation? Noise cancelling headphones? Breathing exercises?

What do you do to clear your mind?

Related questions: What is necessary to change your mind? Could everyone benefit from therapy? Focus or squirrel?

How Do You Need Help?

No one person is able to do everything that needs to be done. As a result, everyone needs help now and then. Do you know the ways in which you need help?

A surefire way to lead to failure is to try to do everything by yourself. In all likelihood, you will exhaust your own energy, raise your own stress level, and fall short of your various goals.

Successful people are good at involving others in their endeavors. For example, most successful marriages involve two people who are stronger together than each is separately. When one person might be overextended, a second person can help to lighten the load.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


Similarly, a person might benefit from the help of family and friends in their personal life, and from co-workers or employees in their profession. One person cannot do it all, whether the “it” in question is raising a family, maintaining a household, or running a business.

And yet, asking for help is too often stigmatized in our society. It might be viewed as a sign of weakness, or seen as a lack of commitment. Even if others might not believe that to be true, sometimes an individual may fear that is the way such a request will be taken.

Asking for help when you need it is crucial. But what happens if you don’t realize — or can’t admit — that you need help after all?

Do you know when you need help? How?

Related questions: How can you help? Are we too busy? How do you define success? What makes a good leader?

How Do You Determine What Matters?

Most people strive to live a life that has meaning; a life that matters. Key to that end, then, is figuring out just what matters in the first place.

This question follows up on this week’s Throwdown Thursday question: Everything Matters or Nothing Matters. As with many Thursday questions, the answer likely falls somewhere between the two extremes. In this case, there are some things that matter, and some things that don’t.

If that is true, the challenge lies in determining which of your actions fall into which of the two categories. You probably don’t want to spend a lot of time agonizing over decisions that don’t matter. Similarly, you do want to put in the time and effort to make the right call on something that is meaningful.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you think others see you?’


But how to decide between them? One way might be to lump all the small decisions — what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed, and so on — as being inconsequential. The big decisions — where to go to college, who to marry, which house to buy, whether to have kids — are meaningful.

There are a few problems with this. One is that adding up a bunch of small decisions can equal a big decision. Constantly being late for work (a small decision) day after day may mean you lose your job (a big outcome). And even a small decision can have a big impact. If you trace back the biggest, most important decisions in your life, often they come from small choices we made.

But it is important that we recognize what matters and what doesn’t. Or is it? Maybe we treat every decision as one that matters. Or might that leave your wracked with indecision, stressing over the potential consequences of everything you do?

How do you determine what matters?

Related questions: What is important? How can we turn ideas into actions? How much power does an individual have? What deserves your attention?