There’s a fairly wide consensus that rules of the Indian dad being an amusing kind of news addict. From blaring the TV at full volume to rewatching the same bulletin every time it plays, one generation gauged in this standard of identity seems to bear a certain character disposed to the seemingly unexciting but surprisingly arousing extent of what occurs as news. But turns out it isn’t just any one section of the world population that is addicted to such dissemination of information concerning worldly affairs. News addiction in fact is a fairly common phenomenon that afflicts millions of ’em enthusiasts worldwide.

But if this referring to as news addiction sounds very basic even when being only evident in such naming, that’s because it indeed is a much generalised term. The more ‘clinical’ assertion happens to be that of a much sophisticated Headline Stress Disorder and it is wherefrom becomes rather apparent the actualness of its dawning as addiction indeed. And while this disruptive revelation prevailing as routine had quite a moment during the stressed times of the coronavirus pandemic and continues to do so during the chaos riddled roundup of current matters, it has been a valid thing since quite sometime back.

news addiction is a disorder
Source: NoBroker

The coinage of the term itself hasn’t been so definite in that it did not emerge in that exclusive intention. In fact Steven Stosny who first uttered these words together to allude to something much real has been a relationship therapist all his life. But the substance that this coupling of the terms has managed to assume holds valid ground in a world easily and rampantly infiltrated by the overwhelming sensationalisation of journalistic joueurs.

That headline anxiety is but exploring of the greater identity in neurasthenia makes for a definite case in its asserting as a condition of concern even when it might not be immediately regarded as such. Of late though the ‘recognition’ has been greatly availed in being very much there even when the ones actually suffering from this modern day affliction might choose to be oblivious to this plight of their own incurring.

It might not be completely self sabotage though. In this age and time of readily available, even ‘radicalised’ presentation of world events, fueled further by speculations and stimulated as well in all prenotioned proclamations and claims, the overwhelmingness of its nature as news tending to addiction is much glaring indeed. The 24×7 access only helps the cause as does the prevailing situations accounted for by everything from health scares to imminent wars, terrorist threats to climate change, economic unfavourableness to political instability conjuring up images of quite the dystopian reality to find oneself precariously placed in.

Related of course is the more known prospects as alluded to by doomscrolling. But while this might be a phenomenon limited in its digital manifestation, the pervasiveness of the news entity is what provides Headline Stress Disorder a expansive avenue of exercising its might. And that also explains the greater relevance of it in extent of the time through which it has been functional. Accessing any and every type of news without it being really possible to filter them out due to underlying marketing ploys is one of the most convenient ways for them headlines to wreak havoc upon the emotional human awareness.

The COVID 19 pandemic and the current state of affairs have by far been the most conducive grounds for news to have significantly weighed upon our sanity. But these aren’t the only extent ever of such trying times. Similar such effects had played out in differing intensities during other periods of history marked by certain such developments and emergences that made news in particular more easily accessible. There also could be associated notions of it being necessary as well to keep oneself abreast and updated with the happenings that perhaps led us to scout out bulletins and newsflashes in the first place. And thereafter it has been a natural progression into this vortex of varied offerings articulated to create exactly the kind of impact that would bolster what has transcended the boundaries to be spawned today as commercialised ventures.

news anxiety
Source: Unistar Special Risks Inc.

It also in this arena of attending that news headlines in particular are particularly emphasised on so as to present statements that one cannot be not interested in- or rather be unincited by. These are clickbaits of the online identity but they are as effectively employed in print and digital media to spew such content that is emotionally aggressive. Even when they might be all factually correct and therefore ethical and not misleading, these ploys of deliverance lure audiences into exploring an overstressed presentation of events- something that might not originally hold such potential to etch itself upon one’s consciousness.

Stepping up this game of relaying startling shocks and unpleasant surprises are the visual aids that constitute a majority of the premise of our receiving. And seeing being believing indeed, it is only obvious that we would be bothered and tormented by replays of what we had watched long after the videos have been played and paused and supposedly forgotten. This significant yet rather subconscious way of penetrating our thoughts and mind means also that we continue to feed upon such fodder of sickening strains because of a failure to recognise and realise the delusional diet we now thrive on.

The perpetuation of such habit as an essential part of our daily routine already makes the news an indispensable feature of the day. This means that we continue to ‘engage’ with news hours and prime time bulletins despite the negatives they assert on us because we are ignorant of such aftereffects as well. Steering clear of the news does not even strike as a possibility since one needs to be definitely informed. And it is not even plausible to be suggested as a ‘remedy’ since news addiction is not yet classified as a real enough problem.

This fallibility on our part to react to news also is part ingrained. The working of a negativity bias means that we end up being more attentive to unfavourabilities and sometimes unnecessarily fuss over them, even when they do not relate to us- despite such factstating likely to project us as somewhat self- seeking. Part of the problem is due to the uncertainty that creeps in due to such adverseness in prevailing- something that is scarier than the negativity itself. The effects yielded out of such characteristic harping on the what ifs occur in some obviousness of impacting moods and triggering the stressors of what unsettles us. And even when the psychological impact would be palpable still, it also is the human physicality that news addiction invariably endangers as well.

Headline Stress Disorder
Source: Big Think

Beyond personal stress and anxiety, the volatility encountered in terms of emotional experiences extends also to the interpersonal range of relationships. Physical concerns manifest in the form of sleeping disorders, mood swings and aggression— or even graver encounters of what expresses similarly as a range of encounters asserting as post traumatic stress disorder. The distortion of body and mind invariably influences one’s disposition as well such that comes to be second nature perpetuating the individual.

That something as ‘critically essential’ as news consumption can be so provocative a practice for humans to entertain comes as a shock itself. But consider the very nature of the news itself that it occurs as today, rarely retained in its original essence of reporting and rather repeated as a ritual in deliberate construing and the path of that occurring is more certainly established. However news addiction can be learnt to be dealt with even when being still on that track buzzing with the latest happenings.

It might be essential to be more conscious of the type of news we let ourselves dig deeper into. The source of the news as well as its authenticity needs to be carefully considered as well. Filtering out such information as is real and relevant to us might be a stress but it still is no match for the extent of anxiety induced by the overbearing nature of the headline stress disorder.

Source: ASU News – Arizona State University

It also is helpful to have specific time for news consumption. The amount of time we allow in poring over them can make quite a difference since we limit the extent of actual access we have over them. The subconscious might still be at work for long since but at least we would not be feeding the same piece of harrowing information into our minds over and over again.

Specifically scouting out more uplifting, positive news that holds promise or those that particularly project the essence of humanity can help counteract the excess negativity rampant all throughout.

Picking up another activity that sustains our attention will also be a detour from the route infested with threatening schemes of exaggeration for instance. And so can be choosing to analyse with others, rather than debate some of the more concerning snippets of what is currently occurring in such measure that cannot be practically ignored. After all news cannot be completely overlooked in context of the socially intelligent human identity and so cannot the importance of headlines be written off even in this space of the stressfully stretched.


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