Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | April 29, 2016

The spiritual and societal cost of sensationalism: What can we do?

Celebrity ODs!

Three die in fiery crash!

Local Priest accused of child molestation!

Governor having affair!

Did I catch your eye? I bet I did. Why is that? What is it about death and scandal and public knowledge of awful behavior that draws our attention? Why is it that we want to know about and talk about bad news? Is it healthy to fill our minds with negative and frightening news? Is there any benefit to sharing ugly events with others?

Studies suggest that our attention to negative news is intended to be lifesaving, not rubber-necking. The brain is programmed to pay attention for a good reason. The problem is that the media knows this and capitalizes on our fears by using this knowledge to hook us into a vicious cycle of non-stop bad news.

Every day there is “breaking news” in the media. Often the same scenes will be shown over and over again because they don’t know any more, but they have your attention now and they want to keep it. Now you are hooked by the sensational content and so watch the same scenes until there is more news. Eventually more “breaking news” will appear and you will never hear about the last piece again. You will never know the resolution. You will not be informed, especially if whatever happened ended on a positive note.

Some newspapers, news channels, and media sites attempt to bring you powerful stories of positive events and just general good news. Unfortunately those stories don’t seem to have the ratings that “bad news” stories have. People want to read about sensational events and tend to browse through or skip positive human interest stories. Media wants ratings. Media won’t change if people don’t.

It is said that a smile is just as infectious as a frown. When one person smiles others follow suit. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that a good story could be as infectious as a bad story? What about garbage in – garbage out? How about good news in – good new out? What would happen if we published, read, and shared good news with everyone more often than bad news? What would happen if we simply turned away from sensational news?

Our spiritual health and our society as a whole cannot possibly benefit from taking in and sharing non-stop bad news. In fact, spreading toxic information promotes raised levels of fear, negativity, anxiety, and desensitization; not to mention wasted time and energy focusing on subjects that serve no positive purpose when simply reacted to.

Reading a good story warms your heart and brings a smile to your face, lifts your mood, inspires and encourages, which when shared with another begins a healthy chain, which grows with every new link, bringing good spiritual health to you, and a boost to the general spiritual health of society.

Just for today… or read an uplifting story and share it with others. Watch how they react. See how you feel. Resist the urge to view and share bad news and see how that makes you feel. Perhaps we can reduce the cost of sensationalism one person at a time by turning away from reading and spreading today’s idea of news and sharing the gifts of inspiration and encouragement within good news stories instead.



stay away from bad news.



Enjoy the clip of The Tonight Show poking fun at bad news below:


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