The other day a friend of mine asked me if I had seen a news story on the local channel and then caught himself and said, “Oh that’s right….you don’t watch the news.” We laughed about it because it’s been a topic of conversation several times before. While many people like to keep up with what’s going on, I prefer to stay in the dark. Why? Because I find so many of the news stories sad and disturbing. While I understand that the stories are basically informational and telling me what is happening in my area, in most cases I prefer not to know. Yes, I know that being informed that there has been an increase in home invasions in the area would be good for me to know because I can be more vigilant about my personal safety. Most of the stories, however, merely make me feel sad or upset–stories about pedophiles who have been convicted, parents who abused a baby and are facing their day in court, a young man who was shot in the street. Knowing about these stories doesn’t enrich my life. Instead, that knowledge brings a lot of negative energy in.
Perhaps I should be more aware of the news of my community and particularly the rest of the world. I feel, however, that most of what is being reported is of no significance to my current reality. My priorities in life are contained to a very small sphere and my day-to-day concern is to ensure the safety and happiness of myself and those around me that I love and care about. Besides, I have grown to believe that we are given too much information on any given day.
What do we do with all of the information that is presented to us every day? In many cases, we worry. We see what is happening in the community, country, and the world, and we worry. We think that the world is falling apart and humans in general are doomed. Are we right? I don’t think so. News stories are broadcast 24/7 that incite fear in us about one thing or another. I have always found it interesting when people say that “in this day and age”…..you can’t let your kids out of your sight, you can’t leave your doors unlocked, you can’t trust anyone…..take your pick. I have a newsflash for those folks. It has nothing to do with the times that we live in. Human beings have always been guilty of perpetrating crimes and unsavory acts against one another. We as a people have an extremely violent history. In fact, the day and age we are living in could possibly be the least violent in human history when you study our past and understand the atrocities that have taken place over the centuries.
So what is different now? Why do so many of us feel that this is a new problem? Because we hear about it now on a global level every single day. News used to be more local. If something happened in another part of the country, people were unlikely to hear about it. As national news grew, more stories were reported but only within a narrow scope because the evening news only had thirty or sixty minutes to fill. Now we have countless news outlets that have to fill 24 hours of every single day with news and information. We are on information overload and most of it is not good. So while we may feel that the world is becoming a worse place, the fact is that we are just hearing about more of the bad things that are going on. We hear about all the child abductions and sexual abuse cases and we think that this is a new and growing problem. It is not.
I wonder what it would be like to have a news outlet that reported nothing but good news? How would we feel then? Maybe inspired, empowered, and have a sense of hope that there is still some goodness in the world. When the bombing occurred at the Boston marathon, while the main story focused on the perpetrators, many found inspiration in the stories of the victims who showed so much bravery in the face of serious and life-changing wounds. I believe that we long for those stories in our lives. We need them. They remind us that while there are some people in the world who do bad things, the good far outweighs the bad.
As for me, I think I’ll just keep avoiding the news…..