I use to think that if I just report something offensive I do not harm the audience, the people who are receivers of what I communicate. After all, the offensive message does not originate from my mind, I’m just a vehicle telling about it. (In the following, I do not strictly distinguish offensive messages from messages charged with anger or simply negative messages.)
This morning, right before I left the house for my daily walk to the office, it occurred to me that this thinking is wrong. What I do in being a vehicle for an offensive idea or expression is spreading it like a virus to others. I’m a host for the virus and instead of fighting it, I infect others, perhaps people I love.
I think, I have a duty of blocking offensiveness, like firewalls fire. I probably can’t avoid to sometimes be a receiver of offensiveness, but I should learn to consume it without spreading it to others. Even just reporting about it while telling about things that happen in my daily life is not fighting the virus.
I wonder if we could apply this thought to the media. What if journalists would filter and block news charged with anger and offensive content? Perhaps the size of the thing that represents the anger in the world would shrink, or its color brighten. Yes, I agree, the world is sick and of course we need to report it. After all, we all need to know that we are in recession, don’t we? Sure we do. At the same time, I advocate since years with friends active in the news industry that we desperately need a global newspaper and TV channel that exclusively report content free of anger. The problem? I’m afraid it would not sell enough copies or attract enough viewers. I think, we have been consumers of so much anger that we might feel deprived without our daily ration.
Perhaps I should start myself reviewing the need for some of the categories on my own blog, e.g. madness, which typically report thoughts positively charged with anger, or not report about parked cars and running engines.