As a Futurist and someone passionate about what it means to be a FutureFit leader, getting the news is important. In today’s saturated multi-media world getting the news is beyond easy as more often than not the constant news flow threatens to overwhelm one.
However, is what we are constantly fed the news we need, or even the news we should be getting? Is it perhaps time to switch off the news?
Philosopher, Rolf Dobelli in his excellent book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, likens the news to sugar, “it offers a quick hit of pleasure, but gorging on it is bad for us”. His argument is that the current compulsive news stream brings about a focus on the ‘visible and immediate’ instead of the important underlying processes. ‘The important stories’ says Dobelli, ‘are non-stories; slow, powerful movements that develop below the journalists’ radar but have a transformative effect’
In his book, How to see the World Nicholas Mirzoeff makes the point that we now live in a ‘visual culture’ in which ‘seeing is not believing’ but that it is rather ‘something we do, a kind of performance’. This reality which is streamed in never-ending volumes makes the need for us to step back and reconsider how and what news sources we consume even more necessary and important. The unrelenting news stream means we adopt a tilted rending of the news and we assemble a whole from fragments whilst assuming that it is a coherent whole. It is not.
A better way to assemble an understanding of what is going on around us is to read deeply or what Dobelli calls, ‘long-form’ journalism and to absorb non-fiction. We make excuses that we don’t have time for such but the truth is, we are simply too lazy. We have become accustomed to getting our news in sensational, bite-size, sugar coated pieces. We become seduced by ‘news-bytes’ and convince ourselves that they are sufficient to form and shape important decisions and opinions, when in fact they are not.
Is it any wonder then that we don’t really understand the bigger ‘non-stories’ shaping our future? We get the headlines but fail to grasp the all-important narratives of our time and to this there is a cost.
Smart leaders understand the importance of ensuring a deep reading of that which is going on around them. They reject the ‘executive summary’ on important issues and insist on reading the entire book. But yes, that takes time, effort and discipline. ‘You can’t afford such?’ given your responsibilities, workload and schedule…but perhaps a better question is, ‘can you really afford not too?’