It can be interesting and informative to know what’s going on around the world. Perhaps you feel it’s your responsibility to know what’s happening or perhaps you find stability in knowing what’s going on or connection in hearing stories from around the globe.
In the above cases, watching the news or reading the paper or browsing online can be great tools to strengthen and deepen what makes you human and what connects you to others. It can offer you ways to help, ways to see a bigger picture, ways to gather meaning or to affect change.
And yet, for many of us, the news, like technology or sugar or even exercise (any subject, really), also has a down side. For myself, I can’t watch the news without stepping into whatever story is being played. I feel the fear, the anger, the helplessness, the grief, the devastation tearing through me. I can’t watch and not feel. Can’t watch and not experience.
Some news stories are glorious and worthy of being shared, and knowing what’s going on around you and how you can affect change isn’t at all a bad thing. Yet I’ve noticed much of the news focuses on the negative, and the commentary and images and musical themes playing during such negative segments serve to heighten the drama—the fear, the pain, the shock—instead of bringing comfort, direct relief efforts, or place it into a perspective that can actually aide in processing and recovery.
As someone with anxiety, keeping up with the news is like eating too much sugar or not enough protein. I feel drained, numb, helpless, discouraged, terrified.
There are so many bad stories out there. Hundreds and hundreds streaming at us live from all over the globe. The suffering of an entire planet condensed into one individual.
Yes, it’s important to be aware. But it’s also important to have perspective. The way I see it, if a man in Florida is shot in his neighborhood by his mother-in-law, it doesn’t affect me one bit where I live many miles away. Not, of course, unless I inject myself into his story and take on pain that isn’t my own.
There’s a difference here. If you watch the news because you want to see where there is suffering so you can help, and if you know your limits and don’t take on more than is helpful for your own good, then being aware can be a good thing. Being aware of what’s happening culturally can also allow you to be more aware of what others you come into contact with are going through.
But ingesting too much or ingesting it in a media format that doesn’t honor you or incapacitates you from being able to help either someone else or yourself . . . or allowing yourself to get caught in a terrified spiral from the latest unexpected news is dangerous to your own wellness and sense of a solid inner core.
Because the perspective I use holds that there will always be bad things . . . just as there are always good things. It holds that we can never be 100% safe or secure or hold all the answers. It holds that we are at no worse or better time in human history than we’ve been before. We are more aware now of what’s going on around the globe rather than just worrying about the little corner we live in. And I also hold that much of what goes on around the globe has zero personal affect on your life. Or should have. This is aside, of course, from helping others and practicing a healthy balance of awareness. But in excess of that? Only harm, terror, and seeking for answers that aren’t there.
For myself, I leave the news off, and I don’t read the paper. If something important happens, I trust everyone will be talking about it and that Facebook will alert me. If I’m interested in a topic, I’ll look into that specifically, but not via TV media, where bad news is often hyped instead of dealt with in a healthy manner. I don’t wish to be ignorant or uncaring, yet I choose to balance how, when, and what knowledge I ingest so I can fit it into a healthy framework rather than allow it to overwhelm me and my capacity to make a difference.
Challenge!: Assess how the media affects you in your day to day life. It may well be that you love interacting with media or keeping up with the news, and that’s perfectly fine. It may be that you need to limit what you view or read because of how deeply you feel everything that’s going on, and that’s perfectly fine, too. Assess it for yourself and ask what the most loving response is so you can find the balance between being aware and looking out for others and also standing strong in yourself and in a healthy perspective of the world. Please share your thoughts, insights, and any techniques you’ve found below! I would be interested to read them. 🙂 Best wishes, my friends! Have a good rest of your week!