I’ve spent most of the past several years a lot more checked out of the news cycle than I think I should be, because so much of it is toxic or religious wars in politics and I simply have not had the emotional bandwidth to deal with it.
I *hate* that. I grew up in a very political family and I feel like it’s my duty to be informed and aware and able to formulate an intelligent opinion.
I also grew up in an era when the news cycle wasn’t a hyper-excited 24 hour freak-fest desperate to get viewers at any costs. There were biases in the local and national papers, yes, but all of it was literally slower paced and therefore less reactionary, and less rabidly trying to seize an audience with short attention spans.
So a lot of my response, because I can’t deal with the huge influx of what is frequently only questionably news, has been to step back and trying not to deal with it as much. I don’t watch the evening news because it’s almost always a cycle of horror: all the bad news, unrelentingly bad news, emotionally devastating bad news. I hate not knowing the political situations going on around me, but the vehicle for that information is so miserable that it’s better for my mental health to not allow myself to be dragged into it.
I’ve been deeply, profoundly invested in the US election, obviously, and I stayed offline almost entirely for a week in its aftermath, because my ability to cope with the results, and the results of the results, was so limited. I’ve been online more in the past few days, and you know what? It’s not good for me. I’m stressed and scared and angry and helpless.
And the news cycle feeds on that: it’s a negative cycle that we as humans get into very easily, and the more scared we are, the more reassurance or wreckage we search for online, the more hits the news sites get, and the more reason they have to continue with the anxiety-inducing splashes.
Don’t get me wrong: I know for good goddamn sure there’s reason to be scared. Brexit and the US elections have offered carte blanche to people acting on racist, homophobic, misogynistic, fascist beliefs. I’m not blind to that. I’m pretty protected–privileged– living in Ireland, straight, white, my atheism doesn’t show on the outside, etc. I have a lot of friends who aren’t protected by those things, and who are outright terrified. I’ll do anything I can, whatever I can, wherever I can, to create spaces of safety and tolerance and love for people to rely on.
But for me to be able to do that, I need to remember that I can’t deeply engage in the discussions and the reports designed to achieve a hyper-reactionary result. I’m no good to anybody if I’m a wreck.
I think I may ask for some renewed, and new, magazine subscriptions for Christmas. Because I want to be informed, but I can’t do it the way the online news cycle is set up, not and retain my own health of mind.