Author: Joshua Liu
1 There is not [a meaningful] distinction between much of what is now considered news and outright propaganda. Much news is produced to emotionally agitate watchers/readers/listeners to ‘do stuff’ or to ‘fight stuff’ at the macro or political level. News sensationalizes shocking events ― often with graphic and loud mediums that shortcut fight-or-flight responses ― that no time has yet been spent on reflection. Sensationalized coverage of recent events is brainwashing: it riles up people to fight things.
2 A narrative with no villain or hero is incoherent: It doesn't have a point. Narratives must construct the bad guys and out-group (the villains) in a dynamic with the good guys and in-group (the heroes) to be complete. The friend-enemy distinction. Is there a reference frame outside of this dynamic?
3 A good narrative pushes the bad guys to external force. Externalities from other peoples ― or forces of nature ― are common scape goats. Good narratives diffuse qualms with those in the in-group by giving space for people to calm down.
5 A bad narrative is one that pushes the bad guys to internal forces. Saying that kin are villains is inherently cannibalistic (are all humans kin?). Sensationalist narratives often focus on recent traumatic events when they non-strategically establish an ‘us’ that need to be immediately protected and a ‘them’ that need to be immediately fought. Sensationalist narratives often accidentally tears in-groups.
4 In Christian tradition (and in some other religions) the external force is often pushed to the transcendent with the enemy ultimately being a kind of spiritual "force of evil" that everyone has to face in their life. The in-group in Christianity is universal. "But I say unto you, love your enemies..." - Matthew 5:44
6 If current events do sometimes need to be paid attention to then I think it's best to privilege emotional investment towards local events where the most meaningful impact can be had. I read text-based news sources over watching video-based news sources for the extra detachment that the medium brings. I read the local paper before global news outlets. I stay off of social media to avoid being bombarded with impulsive-repetitive-pointless whining of events. I try to not think about the news for over an hour a day ― unless what's going on is directly connected to my work.
8 The world will continue to spin on and the sky is not falling. The sun will rise again tomorrow.