The nightly news, well more accurately, the nightly, morning, daily, and incessant news, is a very deceptive thing, and the information age has made it possible for this deception to become an even more pervasive and insidious element in our society. Despite the talk about unbiased reporting and so on and so forth, the reporting that goes on today is completely and totaled biased in a fundamental and unalterable way. The news media is determined to only cover stories that are abnormal.
For example, in the United States alone there is an average of about 27,000 domestic airplane flights daily. However, the news will NEVER report on the thousands and thousands of flights and passengers that successfully travel around the country, not to mention the world, day after day after day. No, the news will ONLY report a plane flight where something goes wrong whether that be flying an hour past their intended destination or crashing into a huge ball of fire. This same bias causes the media to intricately report on some person somewhere finding a dead mouse in their happy meal and completely ignore the millions of mouse-less happy meals that are served every year.
This deception has a twofold effect that pervades our culture. The first of these effects is that the news shows us a world that is full of excitement and happenings and upheavals and drama and makes our own lives look exceptionally dull and boring. The second of these effects is that this hyper-sensationalism causes us to become blind to the sensational stuff that makes up the monotony of our every day lives.
Consider this: the news will cover the story of a man who unexpectedly buys a winning lotto ticket, becomes an overnight billionaire and retires at the age of thirty. The news will not cover the story of a man who faithfully works a 9-5 job until he’s seventy to provide for a family, send his children to college, and quietly retire in the suburbs to spoil the next generation. Yet this is the beautiful and wondrous stuff of our lives.
Such things are the glories that G.K. Chesterton called “tremendous trifles” (and if you want to bring balance into your life from the biased media, you should find and read his book by that name; it’s online at Gutenberg Press). It is he who calls us to draw our attention from the biased media that proclaims that all the world is interesting except you and to consider that incredibly valuable and precious and wonderful thing that we dismiss under the ignoble title of “the ordinary”.
I conclude with an excerpt from this prophet of common sense
“By fixing our attention almost fiercely on the facts actually before us, [we can] force them to turn into adventures; force them to give up their meaning and fulfill their mysterious purpose… The object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing. …I will sit still and let the marvels and the adventures settle on me like flies. There are plenty of them, I assure you. The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.”
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