I recently spent a week away from news and what I found when I returned seemed truly apocalyptic.
At the rate the world is going, our life is heading towards disaster and very few are even paying attention.
While everyone is wrapped up in their daily routines, family, school, study, jobs, finances, corporate ladders, rat races, technological advances, scientific breakthroughs, legal woes, health challenges, relationships, life’s uplifting highs and depressing lows, in addition to the equally busy virtual life on social networks, our existence is at stake and we either do not know it, or refuse to admit it.
Aside from those living under immediate or imminent threat of wars, genocides, famine, disease-plagued or natural disaster-prone regions, we go on with our lives and we keep up with what’s happening in the world through our daily consumption of “news.”
What is worth 15 seconds in broadcast or a 100-word update in print today might get a larger space tomorrow or disappear altogether. People have become numbers and countries have been reduced to dots on maps. Casualties are nothing but statistics. Actual disasters are now competing with electronic games to entertain or brainwash, not to inform, educate, or influence into positive action.
Death is sanitized and safely watched through screens that keep getting smaller as our mobiles get smarter. Shouldn’t we ask where our phone’s “intelligence” is coming from? Who is this invisible hand behind our phones that turns our commands into action? Who dials a number for us; and who finds a location? Who knows every single movement we make, every place we visit and every person we communicate with and the details of those communications and even everything we like?
If there is someone “smart” enough to do all that for us, monitor us and assist us, can’t we commission this wonder person to resolve our conflicts, end our wars, spread peace and wipe out oppression and disease?
Spending a week without news was blissful because news is becoming our poison and our opium at the same time. It reduces human suffering to images on screens and short sound bites; it fools us into believing that we are empowered. When I checked the news after a week of abstinence, I found that a lot was worse and very little was better.
It showed me our apocalyptic fate moving fast; documented step by step by many of us, but we are too busy to notice!
Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.