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What is HAT: the Headline Analysis Tool?
Though distant events affects us, they remain distant. And when
we see things at a distance, they are smaller and less detailed
than things close to us. It can be the same with news.
lexilogical analysis as a lens, we can gain a broad view of events
far removed from us. Our immediate and local concerns naturally
occupy most of our attention and receive most of our energy.
The news often pertains to events over which we have little say
or control, and this can be frustrating if we get really involved
with and give a lot of our energy and emotional attention to it.
Yet all large news, if it qualifies as actual news, arises from
the plenitude of local goings on. And this is where we have the
most chance of understanding and influencing events: our individual
lives, wherever they are unfolding.
So what, you may wonder, is the point of analyzing headlines
in this way? Why crawl dozens of sites to figure out which words
and word groupings dominate the headlines from day to day?
For some background to this Q and A, let's look at the modern
situation. With the internet, we have an unheralded profusion of
news sources vying for our attention. Every news source has its
agenda, its limitations, and its blind spots, and whether or not
a story has much truth to it, our emotional reactions have real
consequences in our daily lives. If we're not mindful, we can
become obsessed with emotionally evocative events over which we
have little immediate control, at the expense of our more
immediate local needs and concerns. We need to stay informed,
but the way we receive and understand the news needs to evolve,
to adapt to the multifarious and sometimes chimerical nature of
So, returning to our question, it's about taking a step back
from the headlines, taking a step back from the stories and the
emotions, and getting a bird's eye view.
It's about disengaging from knee jerk emotional reactions to
button-pushing presentations of volatile issues with loaded words
and threatening projections of the future.
It's about recognizing that whether we're for or against
something, it occupies our attention just as much either way.
We learn by repetition, for better or worse. The news we consume
can affect us on a deeply subconscious level, and we have a
responsibility to ourselves, and to others, to cultivate our
awareness of this fact.
It's about seeing past social media bubbles and confirmation
bias, to recognize the themes of the day.
In addition, it's about disengaging our precious attention and
energy somewhat from the flickering lights of hype,
sensationalism, and the engines of consumer culture.
All of this can save us time and energy that can be used to
further our causes and to move towards our own dreams; to be
more active than passive, more active than reactive, and to be
more informed rather than emotionally stirred.