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Changing your thinking for worse

August 10, 2017

Seth Godin blogged today that seeing is believing. It’s about the negative impact of having our brain influenced by what we see on TV and what we are accessing on the internet. Its the reason many of suffer from information fatigue, but it’s not just tiresome. It changes the way we think.

It’s the reason that I choose to let my son watch videos – cartoons, yes, but I aim for ones with some level of educational value. And why on the rare occasions we do watch TV (I mean we could not miss the Golden State Warriors in the finals again), we aim to stay away from the commercials, or at least talk about them as we watch them.

Discourse, discussion, talking about things helps the mind transition to new information. I believe this is true for all of us, but especially for young, more impressionable minds that are taking things in  for the first time. It’s the reason I agree with Seth, who writes that: “Every time I see a toddler in a stroller with an internet device in hand, I shudder.”

These things may not affect our personalities, but they affect our behavior. From an article in Psychology Today:

But what was more interesting was the effect that watching negative news had on peoples’ worries. We asked each participant to tell us what their main worry was at the time, and we then asked them to think about this worry during a structured interview. We found that those people who had watched the negative news bulletin spent more time thinking and talking about their worry and were more likely to catastrophise their worry than people in the other two groups. Catastrophizing is when you think about a worry so persistently that you begin to make it seem much worse than it was at the outset and much worse than it is in reality – a tendency to make ‘mountains out of molehills’!

I’m not writing this as an attempt to convince people to change their actions. It’s worthwhile to be aware of and to consider, every time you turn on the TV or open the internet to read news. It’s the reason I won’t read news first thing in the morning and limit my news intake. I believe it’s important to understand and know about what’s going on in the world, but doomsday news and non-stop coverage are too much for any brain to consume.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 23, 2017 07:23

    I definitely can see the impact of the news on my outlook. I have yet to find the balance between avoiding saturation and staying informed.


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