So far, the results of this weeks’s poll, Does the News Make You Blue, beg the question: If the news really triggers such negative feelings…why pay such close attention to it?
Don’t get me wrong, I like staying informed. I feel as a citizen, it is my responsibility to stay informed and vote for those who, in my view, will contribute to making this country, and the world a place in which freedom can flourish, (among other things).
But I don’t get my news from television, which I find especially prone to “yellow journalism.”
C.R. has a passion for understanding politics and government and world events and was a freelance journalist for quite a while and still pens the odd opinion piece as a ghostwriter.
Yet when either of us crosses the line into active worrying about the world (the things we cannot change), we remind each other to chill. As important as world events are, there is no such thing as “objective” reporting and the news industry is in the business of selling…the news. So the news is designed to rev you up, keep you hooked, and waiting for the next cliff-hanger.
So, take your news with a good grain of skepticism — it’s designed to stress you out! (Or what producers call, “engaging the viewer”).
But that’s all moot if you already know this and still the news is triggering symptoms of anxiety, depression, and so on (or cravings for drugs or alcohol). You can get analytical about it: Does it matter whether you hear/read/watch the news? Maybe it’s the medium. Maybe television news really is upsetting but reading a newspaper…not so much.
Maybe it’s the source. Do BBC and AP Internet headlines get you down, but Reuters isn’t a problem? Do certain network or cable news outlets give you anxiety if you watch them (it might be all of them)? Maybe a specific radio station or a particular newspaper?
If you find being informed is important to you, you can lower your doses of the news. Or sign up for specific Google news alerts on particular subjects you need to know about. This way you are managing what you’re taking in — and setting aside so much space and time to pay attention to the news and no more.
If none of the above seem to help maybe it’s time for a “news fast” (these were popular several years ago). Take a week or even a month off. See if this improves your mood. When you need to be informed (to vote, to participate in other civic duties, to understand taxes or licenses, for a school assignment, etc.) you can check out the news then.
Don’t let anyone bully you into consuming news if it gets you down and triggers stress and anxiety. Conversely, don’t let anyone make you feel bad (and don’t pile on the self-guilt) if you find that you love the news. Only you can manage the right amount of news consumption by taking into account your feelings and emotions.