The Guardian’s media columnist Charlie Brooker has smoked dope and tried LSD. But mood-altering substances aren’t his “bag,” as he puts it. “But I’m not afraid of them either. With one exception.”
Or, rather, news itself: The salacious tibits and gossip that can send stock prices plummeting, heated debates with spouses in the bedroom, and even wars over weapons on mass destruction.
On news benders, we can go days refreshing sites, staying inside on warm spring days to get our fix, and shunning friends and family to seek out the scoops.
Now that the “drug” is getting cheaper, its influence is getting worse.
The biggest threat to the nation’s mental wellbeing, yet it’s freely available on every street – forpennies. The dealers claim it expands the mind and bolsters the intellect: users experience an initial rush of emotion (often euphoria or rage), followed by what they believe is a state of enhanced awareness. Tragically this “awareness” is a delusion. As they grow increasingly detached from reality, heavy users often exhibit impaired decision-making abilities, becoming paranoid, agitated and quick to anger. In extreme cases they’ve even been known to form mobs and attack people. Technically it’s called “a newspaper”, although it’s better known by one of its many “street names”, such as “The Currant Bun” or “The Mail” or “The Grauniad” (see me – Ed).
In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often “cut” the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards.
What is your gateway drug? The Business Insider?
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