Are you addicted to the news?

Although there are practical reasons to keep abreast of current events, the news can easily become an obsession. In one of his letters, the aging Thomas Jefferson expressed regret that he had wasted so much time reading newspapers. Fortunately, radio, TV, and the internet hadn’t yet been invented, or he might never have found time to write the Declaration of Independence.

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Therapist seeking to cure his client of internet addiction.

Many of us would agree that we devote too much time to the news. We might even confess to being hooked. There is nothing novel about the idea that the news is addictive, but there has been little insight provided by anyone into the cause of this malady.

There is a curious aspect to the news that provides a clue to its addictive nature: it makes us anxious, especially bad news. Why, though, would anyone wish to be anxious? Because, as Schopenhauer observed, there’s something more painful than anxiety: boredom. And anxiety is a cure for boredom. The news events that are unfolding provide drama and excitement for those afflicted with that malady. Related to boredom is meaninglessness. News stories provide coherent narratives that give shape and structure to the chaos of existence. Finally, news stories offer explanations for our discontent. We find a scapegoat in the Democrats or the Republicans, or in some foreign power. This is not to deny that there are evils in the world with which we must seriously contend, but an obsession with world events distracts us from reflecting deeply about our own lives.

An obsession with the news also indicates that one is alienated from the antithesis of the news — the eternal. President Jefferson certainly had a meaningful life, but in the wisdom of old age, he wished that he had spent more time reading the classics, so that he might contemplate life’s eternal verities. If you are addicted to the news — if, in other words, you are hounded by boredom and meaninglessness, and are in flight from life’s deeper questions — you are impoverishing your spirit. Dr. Dillof understands this problem and can help you reconnect to the healing power of philosophical truth.

Dr. Dillof offers philosophical counseling, by phone and in person. For information, call him at: (607) 723-2663 or e-mail him at mdillof@verizon.net. The telephone can allow for an intense conversation. Why, then, drive to a session — in the rain, snow, cold and dark — spending money on fuel? No matter what part of the globe you inhabit — from New York City to Los Angeles, from London to Tokyo, from Binghamton to Ithaca — distance is no barrier to an illuminating talk with Dr. Dillof!