The arrival of the 24-hour news cycle delivered an abundance of bad, shocking and salacious information from the four corners of our universe. Where we once had a troupe of editors at the local morning daily paper that would sift through, as Adolph S. Ochs said in 1896, “all the news that’s fit to print,” today we have unfettered access to virtually limitless bits of who-knows-what. Like the shelves of a modern grocery store, not all choices are equally healthy, affordable or necessary. Yet without the guiding hand of someone who is thinking about quality and nutrition, we can slide into some fairly bad habits, eating only what we’ve always eaten while not understanding why we are becoming obese.
We live in an increasingly toxic internet age where thieves send us daily messages by every electronic medium manifesting all matter of deception. And when we seek the worst manifestations of human behavior each morning with our coffee, we come to believe that these abhorrent individuals are more common than they actually are. Most people are good and decent. Most of us try to behave ourselves. And we do.
But this so-called democratization of news has had a twisted effect. Even as we are horrified to watch in real time as missiles are fired and buildings burn, knowing that there must have been humans where now only flames are seen, others conspire about how terror, death and kidnapping might advance their agenda. Likewise, most read about drug arrests, corruption or even murder and wonder how it has become so commonplace while others find comfort that their own perversions might be perceived as mainstream. The middle school cliché, “Well, everyone is doing it” comes to mind. Does learning of the bad actions of our fellow humans motivate fear, action, disinterest or abject indifference?