And it’s not just the temperature either.
- ISIS launched an attack in a popular tourist destination: Paris
- Trump wants to stop an entire religious group from entering into the U.S.
- The justice department has started an investigation into the Chicago PD
- San Bernardino shooters turned out to be ISIS supporters
- Turkey and Russia are at each other’s throats
- Xenophobia is in the air (and in our vocabularies)
- A mentally unstable man almost blew up propane tanks outside of Arkansas State University on Thursday
What has the world come to? These stories are just a fraction of what’s been happening around the world, not including what’s been happening in my own county (schools on lock down from boom treats and neighborhood disturbances).
I’ve never been a big news person. I usually only tune-in when dramatic events happen and I first learn about it because the story becomes so large that it’s inescapable and everyone is talking about it.
Actually, I first learned about what happened in Paris from my 9-year-old son. One of his classmates told him that “ISIS invaded Paris.” When I told my husband, he filled me in on the details. I then looked up some stories to find out even more about ISIS because I suddenly found myself in a situation where I needed to explain to my child what was happening with the world.
I also got really mad at the parents of that child. Third graders have no business discussing world events on the playground. The only thing that stopped me from talking to his teacher about their conversation was realizing that the mother of that child probably didn’t even know what her own child knew. I highly doubt she told him. He probably overheard the news broadcast while his parents were home.
But the whole ordeal was eye-opening for me: Alas, I’ve reached the point in motherhood when I have to explain world events to my child!
Not cool. I don’t like sharing bad news.
Recently, when one of my friends posted a status update on Facebook about her feelings, I could relate. She wished she could “hide from the news stories and create a shelter from the sadness”.
Admittedly, since that difficult conversation I had to have with my child about terrorism, I’ve been preoccupied with a reasonable amount of fear, worry, sadness, and sometimes paranoia. However, I’ve since calmed down, feeling much more secure because I’m more prepared for an emergency now than I’ve ever been.
In case shit hits the fan close to home.
It may seem a bit overly cautious of me to spend some time recently getting my ducks in a row, but nobody at that company Christmas party in San Bernardino expected their coworker and his wife to show up and shoot up the place.
You just never know.
But, when does this fear of terrorism (and perhaps the election candidates) spewing from the news outlets become too much for a person to handle emotionally? When does becoming informed cross the line into becoming consumed? Here are a few signs that you may be focusing too much on media news coverage:
- You have your smart phone set up to alert you every time a breaking news story happens.
- You follow all the news outlets on your Twitter or Facebook (or email list, even).
- The first thing you watch in the morning (while you get ready for work) is the news.
- You also watch the evening news – every night.
- You Google terms like “ISIS” or “Trump” to find out if anything else has happened (or if Trump said anything outlandish).
- You’re subscribed to one of several news publications, like USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Washington Post, and/or your local newspaper. AND you read it daily.
- By the end of the day, you’ve heard the same news story at least 5 times because you’ve seen it talked about everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post, morning news, daytime talk shows, evening news, etc.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry. There’s hope. Read on.
Is Watching the News Really Unhealthy?
Yes, but only in large, negative quantities.
Back in February of this year, The Huffington Post published a story on What Constant Exposure to Negative News Is Doing To Our Mental Health. British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey was interviewed for that piece and here’s what he had to say:
Negative news can significantly change an individual’s mood — especially if there is a tendency in the news broadcasts to emphasize suffering and also the emotional components of the story. In particular… negative news can affect your own personal worries. Viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.”
Based on what Dr. Davey said, I think my reaction to recent events is normal, and probably to be expected. In my mind, I internalized what was going on in the world around me and started to take preparation measures to protect my own family from similar devastating events. The fact that my husband doesn’t live with us and works in another state suddenly became a really big deal to me because if an emergency happened, we would be apart. Plus, throw in the fact that my husband has to fly during his visits home, I’m suddenly more worried about his safe travels this holiday season.
Great, so now what?
Try to Focus on What Really Matters Instead
Balance is key when it comes to anything, especially negative things. Here are a few tips for shifting your focus away from the news:
- Moving forward, pay attention to where you are getting your news stories and limit your exposure by only sticking to one source that you trust most. Pick one time a day to scan the headlines to stay informed. Only read the details if you need to.
- Avoid (or dramatically reduce) watching the news on television. You have less control over the stories you choose to focus on and are likely to feel worse hearing the news anchor report the story versus reading about it yourself. This is because of the tone that is used during their reporting. They make everything sound more dramatic than it is to exploit your tendency to be attracted to bad news.
- Don’t share bad news. Your Facebook friends and Twitter followers already have enough bad news clogging their news feed as is.
- Pray for victims and their loved ones and pray for world peace. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
- Read my summer post about How to Cut Down on the Negativity.
As Claire Zulkey stated perfectly in her blog post titled, I’m afraid of Americans,
I have come to realize that I can do a few tiny things but I can only do so much, take in so much, before I start to lose my mind and the gratitude and joy for the many things I have.”
My children and my husband are the most important people in my life and it took a splash (more like repeated dunks) of negative news over the last several weeks for me to type those words and really, truly mean them without feeling cliché about it.
I’m sure that I’m not alone.
Don’t allow the negative news of the world kill your spirit and shift your focus away from what’s most important. Find a cause that you can financially support so that you feel like you are helping society move towards a better world, but don’t allow yourself to become consumed by the filth and grime. Terrorism wins if we allow ourselves to live our lives controlled by fear.
Don’t let terrorism win.
There’s something about hearing stories of death that makes you stop and think about how you are living your life. For me, I turned all that negative news into a positive for my family and my hope is that you can do the same for yours.
How are you going to combat against negative news coverage?