Brexit, Trump, the French presidential election, protests in Romania and of course the Dutch parliamentary elections: there seems to be so much going on that you can watch the news 24/7 and still be behind.
The question, however, is how valuable all this information actually is. Gail Wynand, the fictional media mogul in the classic novel The Fountainhead, did not see news as a form of information or knowledge at all. To him, news was simply a form of entertainment for the masses. ‘News,’ he said, ‘is that which will create the greatest excitement among the greatest number.’
Eradicating serious diseases
There is a certain truth in the words of Wynand, but this truth only becomes clearer when you close yourself off from the hustle and bustle of the day and take the time to investigate in depth. Instead of spending hours reading BuzzFeed-like articles about the latest scandals in government, it would be better to learn about the backgrounds and contexts of issues.
If you read history books, you will know that important events never occur on itself. There is always an underlying reason or set of reasons. The election of Trump, for example, will not be explained in history books as the outcome of a few poorly considered, radical tweets, but rather in the context of decades of economic decline for the average American.
Fads are making us lose sight of important events that are taking place around us. Technology and healthcare have improved so radically in recent years that we are almost able to modify human genes to cure and possibly even eradicate serious diseases. While we all saw how the gorilla Harambe was shot in a zoo, artificial intelligence software has become so good that computers can now beat the world’s best poker players. And while we are glued to the TV again to hear about the latest ideas of yet another political party, history is currently being written in Finland by a large-scale project aimed at providing a basic income.
These are all meaningful developments in my view. Interesting articles are therefore still being written, perhaps more than ever before. It’s just a matter of making the effort to find them.