Back in 1979, I read a short story in a science fiction collection about a man who was obsessed with the news. He constantly read, listened to, and watched the events of the day most of his day. Some sort of trigger event occurred, and the man disappeared. A psychologist became fascinated with the man's story and eventually tracked him down to a remote forest where he lived a primitive existence. (When the psychologist discovers the man, he is squatting at the edge of a cliff, using gravity to convey his waste away.) The man has lost all ability to speak and has no memory of his life before his disappearance. After much work, the psychologist restores the man's memory. The man tells the psychologist that he was "diminished by the news."

I cannot remember the full ending, though this story has stayed with me for decades (and the feeling of chilling surprise it left me with).

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    As I recall the mid-story, the man was living like a human (albeit without speaking), painting in a primitive style with colors from pint cans of wall paint, when the shrink located him -- but the quote "What diminishes mankind diminishes me" was pivotal. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 15 at 13:20
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    And playing random notes on an ophicleide. – Organic Marble Aug 15 at 13:24
up vote 11 down vote accepted

"And Now the News..." by Theodore Sturgeon.

It ends:

The psychiatrist asked him what he was going to do.

"Do?" asked MacLyle cheerfully. "Why, I'm going out there and diminish mankind right back." He was out in the corridor with the door closed before the psychiatrist so much as sat up. He banged it open again and leaned in. He said in the sanest of all possible voices, "Now mind you, doctor, this is only one man's opinion," and was gone. He killed four people before they got him.

  • Incidentally, what a great magazine issue this first appeared in. Stories by Sturgeon, Heinlein, Clarke, and Knight. – Organic Marble Aug 15 at 13:43
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    Thank you! This has been gnawing away at me for years. Much appreciated! – joeschwa Aug 15 at 14:38

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