The toxicity of ‘staying informed’

So much is happening in the news these days. Whether it’s one of Trump’s idiotic tweets, emerging news on healthcare, terrorism or social issues, we can easily become swept up in all of it. If we take a step back and look at the news, something becomes apparent: it’s not as confusing as it seems. What makes it so complicated is when people, usually those in the media, hash these issues over and over to a point where, instead of clarifying what’s happening, it becomes more convoluted. 

A week or so ago, I began feeling this crippling sense of despair and hopelessness. I began feeling cynical and distrustful of everything. My outlook on the future and my overall sense of optimism were under attack. When these symptoms were setting in, I decided to stop watching the 24 hour news cycle and checking in on all of the goings on through social media. While I didn’t know if being so “informed” was causing me that distress, something made me feel as though cutting the line to the maddening news cycle would settle me down a bit.

And…it did! As though I took a miracle pill, I began feeling so much better. My happiness came back, my optimism was manifest again and I found that I had more energy to devote to other things that brought me pleasure.

Now, before you criticize what I’ve said, let me be clear: it is good to be informed. It is responsible to know what’s happening and to be engaged. That said, it comes with a limit. The more you lose yourself in the toxic news cycle, the less time you spend within yourself, cultivating your own happiness and worth. News requires us to go out there into the cacophony but also provides us with little resource to ameliorate it and create clarity from it. So, it leaves us in an unsettled, frenzied state.

Years ago, people would read the morning paper and watch a half-hour news program at night. And even then, some thought that was information overload! 

So, let’s stay informed. Let’s address the things that are happening and be proactive about what we can do. But at the same time, let’s remember that we have lives to live and a world of abundant beauty around us to explore. We have love to ale and create. And each of us possesses nuance and value far beyond our political ideology. Let’s connect with one another. Let’s reduce the toxicity and start healing.


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