A common refrain I’ve heard over the past few years is that “people need to stay more informed” with the news, and that’s likely true. However, studies show that people who focus on news too much end up with increasingly distorted views.
From her excellent book “I Never Thought of It That Way“, author Mónica Guzmán shares:
People who said they read the news ‘most of the time’ were nearly three times more distorted in their perceptions than those who said they read the news ‘only now and then.’ This goes for both political blues and reds, by the way, with roughly 5-point perception gaps turning up both for people who read the New York Times and for people who watch Fox News.
As she shares, this isn’t simply a red or blue issue — it’s on both sides. In both cases, I suspect the problem is that people who consume a ton of news don’t tend to get it from a variety of sources and they simply keep the news on the same channel all day long.
Working to see both sides of an issue takes effort, and people generally want to believe they’re right. It’s like the old funny series of videos of “If Google Was a Guy”, where a woman asked Google about vaccines and autism and took the one result that proved her point:
Of course, that’s not to say that staying well-informed is a bad thing, but rather that focusing on just “your” side can lead to increasingly large perception gaps.
If you want to follow the news more closely than others, that’s fantastic, and if you can do it in a way that removes your (often intentional) filter bubble, even better.
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