I received some mildly critical feedback on my most recent post: 4 Pieces of Stoic Wisdom For Dealing With Negative News Media. (Nothing too harsh of course - this blog has polite readers!) The objections are with my suggestion that we should tune out news media entirely or almost entirely if we want equanimity. Those who commented, argued that Stoics (and presumably non-Stoics) have a duty to act socially and politically, and that ignoring the news smacks of self-interested isolation in the Epicurean Garden.
So, what is the problem with staying informed via news media, you ask? Isn't that what we are supposed to do in a democracy? There are two parts to this question which warrant a response. First, there is the problem of social and political action, ostensibly based on the information we get via media. In other words, what should we "do about," current issues? Second, there is the problem of the information itself - with the quality and manipulation of news and mass media - which I will go on to address in part 3 of this series.
Do social and political actions really have any effect? Can taking such actions be harmful? Do we have a duty to stay informed? Well yes...and no. It all boils down to the question of what do you plan on doing with the information you get from the news. There are certainly more and less ethical and effective ways to create a better community and a better world, so I have also included some helpful suggestions at the end of the post: