Lately I have been hearing/seeing a lot of people complain about being oversaturated with bad news from the media. With so many new outlets for news media to bombard you with their 160 characters of tragic happenings locally and around the world, and links to the more in-depth stories (complete with graphic photos and heart-wrenching videos), it's a wonder any of us stay sane. How do we combat all this tragedy in our psyches? Do we become detached, stop feeling? Do we decide to hide from it? Do we just become depressed and cynical? Doesn't anything good ever happen anymore? Or, if you are REALLY bombarded with bad news....DOESN'T ANYTHING GOOD EVER HAPPEN ANYMORE??!!??
Well, here are some ideas I have about combating this oversaturation of negativity.
1. Seek out the bad, instead of letting it follow you around all day. Filter your news updates or unsubscribe from some feeds that are particularly heavy on the bad news or constant updating. Set aside time each day (or however often) to catch-up on the news stories instead of sitting at lunch or picking-up your kids and being instantly notified there was just another shooting or fire or bombing or natural disaster.
2. Keep perspective. Remember that something being newsworthy means that it is extraordinary. We are constantly surrounded by GOODNESS. That is why bad things are newsworthy. Families, children, friends, work, community, religion or spirituality if you have it. It is the good things that occur every day that are commonplace. People being good and serving their families, communities and countries. People being kind to one another and helping each other. It's not newsworthy because it happens all day, every day. It is when being good becomes extraordinary, and therefore newsworthy, that we have reason to panic.
3. Remember what comes next. When bad news is reported in the little info bites and updates, remember that good will follow it. Remember it audibly if you have children who are also being affected by this news. "Oh this is terrible, there was a fire and abc was destroyed. It is so great the fire department responded quickly and were able to put out the fire and save xyz. It's horrible this happened but remember how the community pulled together and helped _____ when they had a fire?" Like Mr. Rogers' wise mother said to him, look for the helpers.
4. Seek out the good, and feel free to let it follow you around all day. Add a comedian or someone who inspires you to your feeds so you also get some levity and positivity in your social media intake. Schedule some email reminders to yourself of funny things your children have said, happy thoughts or pictures. Get with a group of friends and arrange to share a joke or uplifting picture or inspirational quote each day. If you get a little group of seven friends, you can each take the time to send one text or email on one regular assigned day.
5. Take action. This is especially valuable when you have young children. I live in South Philly. We hear of new shootings routinely. When there is a shooting in my neighborhood, I might talk with the children about it. Then we talk about what we can do. What we can do to be safe, and what we can do to help. Even if it's just writing a letter or card. "We don't know you personally but we are neighbors. We heard from the news about your son/daughter and wanted to let you know how the story touched us. We are so sorry for your loss. We will keep you in our hearts and thoughts as you go through this difficult time." I don't do it every single time, because I don't want the children to become overwhelmed. But I want them to begin to have an understanding that tragedies happen in our world, and the best thing we can do to change that is create more goodness. Of course, more impactful and larger scale things can always be done. But when you start small, it's amazing how quickly the goodness grows.
In summary, do more things to make you feel good. If all the bad news is making you feel bad, take a break from it!