The news is everywhere. We can’t stop constantly checking it on our computer screens, but what is this doing to our minds?
We are never really taught how to make sense of the torrent of news we face every day, writes Alain de Botton (author of the best-selling The Architecture of Happiness), but this has a huge impact on our sense of what matters and of how we should lead our lives. In his new book, de Botton takes twenty-five archetypal news stories—including an airplane crash, a murder, a celebrity interview and a political scandal—and submits them to unusually intense analysis with a view to helping us navigate our news-soaked age.
A cosmopolitan, by definition, is a “citizen of the universe” — someone who engages with issues across the globe, from politics, to war, to climate change. For example, we listen to WAMC, read the newspaper, check our Facebook pages and act like dutifully connected people.
But the Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, Ethan Zuckerman, argues that we’re living in a state of “imaginary cosmopolitanism.” We expose ourselves to limited kinds of information, particularly that which is already of interest to us or to those closest to us. He confronts this issue in his new book, Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection.