I feel I must confess: I hate keeping up with the bad news of the world. I do not like watching the news, listening to it, reading it. I cannot pretend to be up to date on what’s happening in the world. I cannot claim to be one of the first people to know. I am not that person that has the morning newspapers and evening news ingrained in her routine. And, I don’t ever feel guilty about it. My dad will probably have a rage attack if he ever sees this. But, that’s just the way I feel. Have you ever noticed that it’s only on a News program that the host wishes you a Good Evening, and then proceeds to tell you exactly why it is not?
Yeah, yeah, I know awareness is great. Ignorance isn’t really bliss (although I do prefer the illusion of bliss on occasion). Knowledge is power, the more you know…and whatever other adage. But I find that when I do keep up with the news, one of two equally unfavorable things happen:
1. I get emotionally involved, and consequently depressed – because it is almost always bad, hopeless-sounding, and practically catastrophic news.
2. I feel detached and develop that, “at least it’s not happening to me” kind of attitude.
When I get invested in the news of people dying, a war brewing or boiling over, children being sold and violated, buildings and aircrafts being shot down, devastating natural disasters, and so on, it can very easily begin to feel hopeless. I don’t know if it’s the media building sensation over the hopelessness of those circumstances, but once you get invested, if you’re anything like me, it is very difficult to get out of it. You might start thinking, “What’s the point of everything?” “Why isn’t God here already?” “Can I move to another planet to be by myself, peacefully?”
I have decided that shock, and rage, and sorrow, with all their propensity to move people into action, can become like drugs. They will get you high on indignation, and bring you low into depression and cynicism. They can get you addicted and jaded. They will increase your threshold of tolerance for horrible happenings, and gradually get you to the point where you’re so desensitized, nothing moves you anymore. This could be the secondary reaction of always listening to the News – again, if you’re anything like me.
I cannot, for the sake of sensitivity and awareness, deprive myself of enjoying happiness and the little joys of life. Yeah, bad things are happening everywhere, but so are good things. What’s the point in letting myself seep in a constantly depressed and outraged state of mind? Who is that going to help? What is that going to achieve?
I have weighed the pros and cons, and I have decided that at this time in my life, all I need in order to maintain a reasonable amount of awareness is Twitter …and maybe Google, if I feel like it. I don’t need all the gruesome details constantly repeated CNN-style, which will most certainly keep me depressed for days long after the sensationalist part of the Big Media Break is over. What I do require is a 140-word-or-less description of the biggest news the world’s media has to offer, sprinkled occasionally with jokes and gossip from different perspectives (of course). If it’s something I think I can handle hearing more about, then I’ll look into it. However, I refuse to subject myself to the constant bombardment of despair that is our daily evening news – thank you very much, but, No.
I don’t mind listening to inconsequential news (E!), because it’s easier for me to prevent emotional attachment when it doesn’t involve people losing their lives, sanity, and liberty unjustly. I know I wouldn’t care as much if Jennifer Aniston got a new rad haircut as I would if there was a mass shooting at an elementary school.
I’m certain not everyone will agree with me on this, but that’s okay. I know myself. I know that once I’m invested, getting out of an unresolved worry is practically impossible. And most of the stuff reported to us, the masses, stays unresolved for really long lengths of time. My solution? Keep a bit of distance – not so close that melancholy and cynicism are constantly poured into my life, and my happiness stolen away with every word, but also not so far that I’m entirely oblivious*.
My advice? Know thyself.
*Hence, Twitter. Twitter feeds can be great and annoying at the same time - you can stay in-touch if you’re willing to deal with the rascals.