Information is essential to a democracy. Something Alain de Botton believes, but how do we receive that information? I was able to attend the lecture between Botton and Adam Gopnik Wednesday night, and it was defiantly worth $21. Botton, a philosopher by trade, seamlessly wove together ideas about the way in which we consume news in its current state and some of the effects it has on us.
“The news controls our sense of reality,” said Botton. Something that is very true. News media outlets mold our cultural norms and what we view as successful. He is defiantly right in this. In talking about the way in which news pushes us to be envious. Making us want the star studded life we see on television. He talked about how so many people are sickened by what they seem in the popular news media that only focuses on the Kim Kardashians and not the serious issues.
We love the horror stories. Yet we case to be provincial. “Are we sick are we mad?” Botton thinks not, he feels the answer lies in ancient Greece. Because its not mere gore, if it is told in the right way “the horrors and calamity’s that have always been prone to human beings have a vital role in educating us.” The most barbaric acts civilizes us, it fills us with pity and fear. It reminds us that death is always near. Know as “cathartic moments” it is the effect of tragedy on the spectator.
His other main point is that we must intermingle art with the news. It is one of the reasons we do not respond emotionally to horrific stories from other parts of the world. The news thinks that just putting the information out there will be enough, but this is not the case. He compared the news with Shakespeare. In that Shakespeare mixed serious social commentary with fun and entertaining plays. “Art gets us to care.” If our goal is to get people to care we need more than just the facts.
He also talked about religion and the fact that there are a lot of good lessons within religion. Since I have never been a religious person I found that interesting. Taking his advice with a grain of salt. As I have always been anti-religion, placing blame on it for many historical atrocities. But all in all he was a very interesting speaker and an obviously very intelligent individual. Pick us his new book, “News: A Users Manual” I’m sure it will not disappoint.