Investing in a Peek-A-Boo World

April 10, 2023

Social critic Neil Postman, in his book Amusing Ourselves To Death, describes how much news is not actionable. He states,

“…most of our daily news is inert consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.”1

In the same paragraph, Postman recognizes that this is not often the case with the stock market.

News there can lead to all kinds of action.

This is something we must be careful of, though. After all, he wrote this in 1985 as a critique of television.

Financial opinions of all kinds and from any sort of bias that fits your niche can be found online from a device inside your pocket.

What might Postman think now?

Be careful on how quickly you flip momentary investment news into long-term investment decisions.

X and Y look really bad right now: SELL.

A and B look really good right now: BUY.

Sometimes you should respond, but the problem in our world is that there is always news that seems to be constantly demanding action. If you were to take a deep breath and wait a few weeks or months, you might make a different decision.

One financial news story, like most news nowadays, is replaced by another one with increasing velocity.

Kinda like peek-a-boo: 

…this ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world—a peek-a-book world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-book, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with playing peek-a-boo. And there is nothing wrong with entertainment. As some psychiatrist once put it, we all build castles in the air. The problems come when we try to live in them.2

The problem is your portfolio is not a game.

It’s a part of your future.

And if you let the present mood dictate your future, you might get in trouble.

What makes financial news may not make for wise financial action.



  1. Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 68.
  2. Ibid., 77.