Why so fascinating?


Neatorama asks why are people so interested in this Tiger Woods thing?

There are probably many different answers.

Here are some that come up for me, from my own experience in getting interested in certain stories in the news:

I may be curious, perhaps there is something for me to learn there. At the very least, it can be a reminder of what not to do.

I can use it as a distraction. There is something in my life that draws my attention, but it is uncomfortable to look at or deal with, so I allow attention to be absorbed – for a while – into this other story that doesn’t have anything to do with my own life.

It can give me a sense of drama and entertainment. I may not be in touch with the drama and entertainment in my own life, perhaps because I distract myself from it, so I feel I need to get it through stories about someone else.

It can help me improve my self-image and how I feel about myself: I may not be rich or famous, but I at least I know how to not hit fire hydrants.

I may tend to idealize others, and especially celebrities, so it helps me balance out and correct my view. Other people do silly things as well, and they may have their own challenges.

And finally, sharing it with others (aka gossip) can create a sense of camaraderie and cohesion, and also serves to reinforce social norms. We are on the same side, having similar views on what this other person did.

All of the functions above happening at an individual level (“gossip” through self-talk), can also play a role when shared with others.

There is nothing wrong with any of them. They all have their function. They even help us in different ways.

But it may be good to recognize these dynamics and functions, take a look at their consequences – including the less desirable ones, and see if we can find different strategies to meet the same needs.

So this too, fascination with less-important stories in the news, is an invitation for inquiry. And if it is a habit for me, it is also a reminder to see if other strategies may be more fulfilling.




  • why interested
    • learn
    • cohesion
    • distraction
    • drama and entertainment
    • improve self-image
    • correct image of others / celebrities

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