I no longer watch or read the news.
Hearing about yet another war or earthquake or tsunami or murder or kidnapping overwhelms me. I feel helpless. Perhaps I take things too personally. Perhaps I feel things too deeply. But hearing about tragedy, whether man-made or nature-made only wears me out.
I can’t do anything about it. I can’t fix it. I can’t make it right. I can’t save people.
I want to be a part of the change in this world. I want to let God work through me. But I’m only one person. I advocate for us all working together, but how can we make the world happier and safer when we are up against wave after wave of bad things happening?
Perhaps my problem is “news” really only means “bad news”.
Look at any news site. Every single article is bad news. Somebody killed somebody. Somebody died in some tragic way. A thousand people died in natural disaster. Flood or famine, it makes no difference whether the event is fast or slow, the result is the same. Yet another person died that I couldn’t help.
Yet another person got caught doing something wrong. Another person went to jail for stealing. Another virus was discovered that can’t be defeated and we are all going to die.
How come the news isn’t more balanced? It would help to hear about the discoveries that are being made. It would help to know about the good deeds that are done every day. These things don’t sell. Bad news sells. And I’m not buying anymore.
We don’t need to hear about the latest celebrity misadventure or adventure. I feel bad for celebrities, where their every move is watched by paparazzi. If we didn’t gobble up what the paparazzi are feeding us, perhaps it would go away. Making a movie or being a football star should be enough. They are famous for enough as is. Let them live their lives in peace.
Turn on the TV and it is either “reality show” or cop drama. These shows feed us an unhealthy idea of what is real with a side dish of paranoia. If you want reality, open up your front door and go outside. Talk to your neighbors. You won’t get reality on your TV.
Several years ago we had to get a second mortgage on our house. The air conditioner and the roof and the water heater all needed replacing in the same year. We cut expenses to afford it. Cable television was one of the things that went. The first week I was a little freaked out. Watching television was an essential part of how I defined myself. What would I do with my time?
It turned out to be the best thing ever. I had more time to read what I wanted to read. I was no longer being bombarded with ads for things I didn’t need. I was no longer mindlessly clicking through channels.
I’ve not watched broadcast TV for at least 5 years. Now I’ve decided to not read the news. I’d limited myself to only reading the news on applications on my phone such as Time, Huffington Post, the local news outlets, or I’d check Google’s news page. I’d limited myself to these because I could choose what I read. I didn’t have to be held hostage listening to a lot of news I wasn’t interested in before I got to the bits I was.
But even that is too much. It is all too much. It is all bad, and I can’t do anything about it, and I feel helpless.
Am I an ostrich? Am I putting my head in the sand? Or am I becoming awake to a mindless thing that is damaging?
In the Western, overly-connected, over stimulated, over saturated world we suffer from depression and anxiety at unmanageable levels. I propose that part of the cause is that we watch too much TV, and most of it is bad. I propose that part of that is that we are inundated with bad news.
We are wearing ourselves out. We are being worn away, drip by drip, by the endless Chinese water torture that is the “news”.