Nonsensationalism

Day 024 Week 04 Q1 Wednesday, January 24, 2024

This word, first used in 1870, should become more in vogue. We are so surrounded by hype and blatant manipulation that everything has become a rating-driven headline affirming that more is better in everything all of the time. Are you getting tired of celebrityism? I sure am. People are trying so desperately to get each other’s attention that no one seems to care what they say at all. The rise of sensationalism is pervading every news story, interview, and book.

Here is my hypothesis as to why. The world has become increasingly complex year after year for a very long time. It has now become too complex for most people even to attempt to understand, so everyone rounds off everything to a more accessible, simplified explanation. Do you feel I am exaggerating? Have you ever been asked a question requiring a complicated answer? Did the questioner have the patience to hear your entire answer? Did you ever answer a one-line email with a three-paragraph answer only to be asked again the day or week after the question you had just answered? 

Has repetition replaced nuance? Do precompiled answers spew at you no matter what the question you ask is? Perhaps the world has become too complex for most people to deal with, so they don’t. Are all reporters reading from teleprompters? Do they seem like they understand what they are saying? Have you heard conversations between two people, neither of whom understood what they were talking about? Long, detailed conversations about nothing? With knowledgeable glances and rabid listeners? 

Maybe it is time to go for what is not sensational, not exaggerated, and not rounded up or down. Of course, people want to seem like they know what is going on. But do they? If you try to engage in critical thinking, can you get away with it?

Here is the problem. Complexity requires deep thinking. No one thinks they have time to think deeply. There is a lot of hand-wringing, exaggeration, fear, disenfranchisement, confusion, and greed for more of anything and everything.  This is not sustainable as the casualty is meaning. Meaning is about quality, not quantity. Innovation is about quality, not quantity. Problem-solving is about quality, not quantity. Love is about quality, not quantity. Pretty much everything that truly matters is about quality, not quantity. 

Being sensational is gratuitous. Being a celebrity does not mean your opinion is more informed or more correct. Why we ask stars what they think is beyond me. People who spend their entire lives as entertainers or sports figures do not have special gifts of understanding or communication. Yet the big name is the draw because it is a shorthand way for some to communicate value by association. 

Namedropping has never impressed me as a shortcut for anything except perhaps that you never did anything yourself.

Be real, not sensational. Do something more than standing next to someone who is doing something or looks like they are doing something.

Practice Nonsensationalism