Junk food and junk news
Just as there is "junk food," there is junk news.
They have a lot in common.
Junk food is the Dysfunctional Family of Food. It looks like food, smells like food, and is unfortunately consumed as food. But you know it's not really food food. It's food you eat instead of real food. It fills the pie hole and empty spaces below. It staves off hunger pangs. Most of it tastes OK — way better than the Brussels sprouts–kale-okra–collard greens–turnip greens and other yuck stuff whirled into concoctions that would gag a maggot.
It's fast food, without the interminable wait to assemble something nourishing, good-tasting, vital to health and well-being. Fattening but satisfying. No real food value, but who cares? Damn the arteries! Pass the ketchup! More salt! Cheese! Mustard! Relish! Special Orders Don't Upset Us! Have it your way!
What is junk news? Junk news is just like junk food.
Everything about junk food can be said about junk news. Fast, easy to swallow, no real informational value — it's not as if you'll come away with a healthy understanding of current events. But you will feel as if you've packed away a lot of good stuff! Just the kind of information that will sustain you.
Just like junk food, junk news is not produced and provided for your mental health or well-being, either. Junk news gives only the illusion of healthy information — e.g., "wasn't there a piece of lettuce in there?" versus "wasn't there a kernel of truth in there?" Yes, but the rest of the junk food is stuffing that clogs your arteries. The rest of the junk news is wrapped in lies and distortions leading to the ignorance and prejudice that eventually kill inquiring minds and essential common sense.
Junk food tastes good while it leads to obesity, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, hyperglycemia, and other things that can kill you over time.
Junk news sounds good while it leads to aggressive ignorance, false security, dangerous decisions, contagious apathy, myopia, bias, and prejudice.
Only the supremely deluded believe that junk food is an excellent basis for a healthy diet and long life. Similarly, reliance on junk news will blind you to reality, truth, facts, and information that can lead to a safe, secure future when properly applied in a conscientious program of consistent consumption and logical analysis — none of which is an ingredient found in junk news.
One may get addicted to junk food. The same may be said of junk news.
It's easy to tell if you're a junk food addict. When was the last time you saw your toes? Or just ask your doctor.
Junk news is harder. With aggressive ignorance at epidemic levels, people addicted to junk news will appear to be informed on current events and issues of national importance, but what they say and do proves otherwise.
Here are the ten warning signs of JNA (Junk News Addiction):
1. Daily viewing of each or all: ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR News. (Certain FOX News programs are not exempt.)
2. Daily reading of each or all: NYT, WaPo, L.A. Times, USA Today, Drudge Report, Time, Newsweek, Slate.
3. Discusses events/issues authoritatively by quoting above sources verbatim.
4. Carries a copy of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence but admits to never having read any of them.
5. Believes that the First Amendment protects feelings.
6. Believes that the Second Amendment protects the right to wear short-sleeve shirts.
7. Believes that Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert are network news anchors.
8. Dashboard has Adam Schiff bobble-head doll; spouse has Jerry Nadler.
9. Lifetime subscription to Atlantic Monthly.
10. Loss of sense of humor.
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