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  • Jaspal Kahlon

How much news is enough for me?

The first match of World Cup football 2019 was due to start in 5 minutes. I was informed by my brother-in-law visiting us. I was excited and switched on the television. He looked surprised that I was unaware. But I had a great feeling of accomplishment that I was successful in abstaining from the news of any kind.

In another instance, I was quoting a news article to make a point when my boss says, “Most of the news we read or hear is paid.” I believed him. It was like he gave words to my own unexpressed thoughts about news.

I read “Fooled by Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Quoting him: The problem with information is not that it is diverting and generally useless, but that it is toxic.

I received a call from my father updating me about the 21-day lockdown announced by the Prime Minister of India. He may have called to update me since I do not follow news. Thanks but, he was late in letting me know. I was already informed by the posts on several Whatsapp groups. I wonder, why would we indulge in reposting the same news under the guise of inviting discussions or rendering service for the general good.

My school friend adds his interpretation to the announcement by Prime Minister, saying that his facial expressions are worrying ones. He concludes, “Our Prime Minister is under stress.” My personal dislike is when people repeat what they have read or heard and then add their own viewpoint.

A piece of news, in the media, is repeated several times and presented in a dramatized fashion. But the fact is that communication remains a piece of information only and we can hardly draw any further meaningful inferences from it. Mathematics has a term called ‘white noise,’ which means a part of data that fails to qualify as information, and it is an outcome of pure randomness and human bias.

We are overwhelmed by the information available and unknowingly fall prey to information that is presented to us in high frequency. For instance, all news channels in India are talking about Coronavirus news and viewers glued to their television sets in the hope of picking up any new piece of information.

There is so little information in the news that impacts our lives. For instance, I needed to know the precautions for Coronavirus and when are the restrictions being lifted for me to go out and shop groceries. Rest, it is of no use, except I desiring some kind of entertainment from the developments around the world.

I will definitely fail a quiz on current affairs, but I save myself from the noise around. For me, less news is better news.

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