Lani: Not Thinking

I decided recently not to watch the news anymore. I just can’t. It makes me too angry, and I have enough tension in my life already, thankyouverymuch. So, I weeded all my political blogs out of my Feedly feed, and filled it with LOLcats and xkcd and other good stuff. Yes, I went back to my blogs when events took a turn this past week and I wanted to find out what was going on, but I left them again immediately thereafter and went back to cute animals on Buzzfeed.

Apparently, I was on to something. I just found this article from the Guardian, which states:

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week… thinking less, enjoying more. Trusting that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the arc of the universe bends toward justice. There are horrible people in the world doing horrible things, but there are many, many more good people, and I’m going to trust that’ll be enough.

In the meantime, let me leave you with this Leonardo da Vinci pancake, and you tell me if it makes you happier than your stupid Congressperson being stupid in stupid Congress. I’ll bet… yes.

 

58 thoughts on “Lani: Not Thinking

  1. Carol-Ann says:

    I’ll skim the headlines and if anything catches my eye I’ll read the article, but in general I avoid the news as much as possible. My hubby has a bad habit to telling me bad prediction of the future, and he can’t understand why I get knots in my stomach and bury my head in the pillow singing “la-la-lalala!” until he stops talking; he really doesn’t get that some people don’t want to know, whereas he couldn’t NOT know!

  2. Theresa says:

    Yes, I pretty much cut out all news a month or so before the elections in the fall. Just couldn’t take the negativity, exaggerations, and doom predictions any more. I am now much more oblivious to what is going on, but also, hopefully, less stressed.

  3. Oh, the Leonardo pancake is nifty. Some friends of ours just gave Minion No.2 a set of Star Wars pancake moulds for his birthday – soooo cool. So we get Yoda, Darth Vader and a Starship trooper guy on our breakfast plates this Sunday. Will put pics on the blog if it goes well!

  4. Rouan says:

    I just spent the time I was going to use for exercising following the link for lol cats and I don’t feel a bit guilty. After the week I’ve had at work a little laughter to start the day is a good thing!

  5. I just wrote a blog post about unplugging from the online world – I always feel better when I’ve had some time away.

    The bad news and current events always find a way to filter in regardless…

  6. Susanne says:

    Yup. It’s just TOO much. I want to know what’s happening in my village, but that’s about it. I don’t need the world. It’s not like I can do anything about it except carry the bad news with me all day.

    My in-laws stopped watching the news and reading newspapers and their blood pressure went down — likely had more time to go for walks 🙂 .

  7. I’ve always been a bit “head in the sand” when it comes to news. I find most of the political bullshit doesn’t really end up affecting my life. Not that I notice, anyway.

    Ironically I’ve recently started listening to NPR because I feel stupid about world affairs. We are so insular her in our little piece of the world.

    Truthfully I think laughing does far more good for the world than watching/listening to the news. If more people were laughing then less people would be making bombs and stockpiling guns. Just my take on the world.

  8. As a former reporter, it goes against the grain for me to turn away…but I’ve been doing it. How does it help for me to see all the grisly details, to get furious over government?

    I watch movies on Netflix. Read romances.

  9. Maine Betty says:

    I was scanning the NYT online just a few minutes ago. So much stuff. I could feel the despair flowing in to weight me down. So I came to Rehab for a break.

    I want to be informed, I don’t want to be cynical or disaffected, but I can only take so much information, and I can only take so much action or donate so much.
    And there apples for me to be painting!

  10. Danielle says:

    Ok, first: that pancake rocks my world.

    Second: thank you for giving us that link. I am emailing it to my news-obsessed, anxiety-riddled husband. I’ve been trying to tell him this exact thing for over a year now and he hasn’t listened to me. Now, maybe he will.

  11. First off, thank you for the xkcd link. I’d never heard of that but got two chuckles within a minute of clicking. Now bookmarked.

    That pancake art is amazing. And I didn’t even know there was such a thing.

    I turned off the news long ago. Actually, I think it was after 9/11. I couldn’t take it anymore. They showed it over and over and over and over. I don’t need to see that to not forget. We’ll never forget that. Or this week. Or this week in 1995.

    I just can’t take it.

  12. Clancy says:

    forgive me if this is obvious but it wasn’t last time I watched intricate pancake molds being used. Even if you don’t usually, and even if they are teflon, brush the insides down with oil or butter. Think those were Star Wars too. Really cute but sadly easy to clog. The kid cooking got so frustrated we switched to plain circles with promises of later testing.

  13. Clancy says:

    No news for me. I used to listen during commute and there was always something to be upset about.

    Somehow I always hear about major things. Mostly I work at grassroots level when I’m trying to help. Me knowing about stuff in between doesn’t help anybody.

    Love the pancake, my efforts seldom get past that mouse or letters.

  14. Clancy says:

    Did you notice that resting your cursor on the comic get you extra comments? I mention this because I only noticed after I’d read a few hundred and I ended up reading through again.

  15. WEBS. I can’t take the information overload. On the same day as the Boston tragedy, my 101 year old M-I-L came out from NYC for her party. She fell broke her hip and had surgery. She’s fine now but in for a long rehab. and on the opposite coast to her home. Anyway my stomach was so distressed with worry that I curled up and read a book. The book was sad and I cried buckets, but somehow the tears helped on both counts.

    I’ve watched only a small section of the news this week. I have however read two books. : )

    I love this:

    Trusting that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the arc of the universe bends toward justice.

  16. I generally don’t do the news because it contributes to my feelings of anxiety and depression. Sometimes I skim headlines, but that’s about it. I try to read about sciency stuff, or good things that happen.

    I love looking at lolcats, have had xkcd on my list for years, and watch MythBusters on Netflix when I need a total break from the rest of life.

  17. I’m with you. I tend to over-empathize so news of tragedy & suffering (which most news is) gets me on many levels.

    Also with you on enjoying more. Was thinking about that this week too. Was listening to the women’s anthem on fun the other day–Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”–and hubby said, “Notice how she qualifies it by saying: “When the working day is done, oh girls they want to have fun.” Like fun must come only after work commitments are fulfilled. That is so wrong. Not that I think Cyndi was purposely sticking that message in there, but there is some truth in it for a lot of us who really do see fun only as something to “indulge” in after responsibilities are taken care of first. That should change. Balance is good but not necessarily sequential. Fun, joy, happy–all good things. And healthy too:)

  18. Cindy says:

    I haven’t had cable for almost 2 years. It’s great, I don’t watch the news. I read the news online, but I pick what I want to read, so I can tune out at times when it’s overwhelming.

    When I feel like watching something having to do with politics, I put on The Daily Show. I know it’s not news, I know it’s comedy. But I get a little bit of news with a lot of lolz. It really helps me put things in perspective.

  19. Cindy says:

    I forgot to say I get all of my entertainment through Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. It’s so great. You control what you watch. No political commercials during the elections either. That was awesome!

  20. G and T says:

    A dissenting opinion

    For 25 years, I was a reporter, a job for which you are paid to be a citizen — go to the city council and water board meeting and explain what’s going on. Interview people who want your vote and show why or why not they ought to get it. Work 14-hour days during the legislative session with no OT, or OT given only grudgingly, so that people can be informed. The thing I know about reporters, particularly those in the print media, is that they feel called to do this thing that is so important to this country that a free press is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. And they do it at the expense of decent salaries and ever being truly off the clock. Because if something is happening, your phone is ringing.

    So it breaks my heart that people turn away from the news, although I can certainly understand why they do. As consumers of the news, we are let down by it hundreds of times in just a week. This week, news — particularly cable TV news — has not been at its best. And that’s another way that the news lets us down.

    Even as it lets us down, the news gives us power through information. The news tells us which U.S. senators voted against the gun legislation this week. And we should remember that when we next go to vote so we can make choices that will result in changes we need to see.

    So, sure. Take a break from the news if you need to. It’s not a great week in the world this week. But I hope in the areas where it matters the most to you — where your school district is spending money to educate your children, how your city is meeting its obligations to its residents, what your legislators are doing to affect your life — you look up the news and be informed citizens when you need to be.

  21. I think news is bad for the soul. It’s not information: that’s the problem. It’s story-telling designed to get you wound up and not trusting anyone. They know that if they frame it as a threat, people will instinctively listen. It’s all about focusing on fear, rather than love and connection.

    I think it’s really dangerous for all of us. Makes us feel helpless. I try and read up when there’s an election, so I can vote. But even though I don’t listen to radio news or watch TV news, I think I’m probably still getting too much nowadays with everything that’s online.

    I wish there were a source of news that was really balanced – lots of good, constructive stuff, not just the souped-up melodramas. About once a week; that’d be enough, I think.

  22. Posting without reading.

    Have been a Guardian.co.uk reader since I became a fan of Ian Mayes, their former reader’s editor (News Ombudsman).

    To balance out the political views, I read the online Telegraph and Independent too. But not in as much detail.

    I prefer basic news- what’s happening now. I don’t go into analysis by talking heads or for breaking news that broke. A day later it is done. Repeated broadcasts of horrific images ain’t working for me. I don’t follow court cases either. Basic news and then verdict. My life is hard enough already without taking on other people’s problems.

    I really enjoy the Lifestyle stuff. Nothing much beats the guy who resigned from his job to focus on his growing cake business- with his resignation letter iced onto a passion cake. I kid you not. Guardian link.

    I like the newsmedia who’ve adapted well to the Internets.

  23. I’ve heard about this local reporting in the US. It’s amazing. Doesn’t happen in the UK (except perhaps in the big cities) – it’s a real problem when it comes to local elections, getting enough information to be able to vote at all. In the past few years, thank goodness, a local website launched that does cover local issues – I’d got to the stage of not voting, because I didn’t see how I could without good information.

    It seems that good, honest, balanced reporting doesn’t make the most profit, alas.

  24. Kelly S says:

    I operated most of my life on the theory if the news was big enough or if it would affect me, it would filter into my awareness somehow – a friend or co-worker would tell me. This worked quite well, actually.

    Then I joined twitter. I get all my news from twitter. I follow the BBC news and I appreciate it because it gives me a more global view. I do learn too much about the UK such as some phone scandal with a gossip magazine, but I can skim past those tweets. Plus at only 140 char usually w/a link to more info. it is quick to get the point without the dramatization. If it is a big enough story, I’ll click through to read more. A lot like scanning the headlines. Besides the BBC tweets though, I also see any major story right away from others – sadly mostly bad news, earthquakes, deaths, bombings, etc. Anyway, I like this method.

  25. Yeah, I’ll disagree with this, too, at least in part.

    I read TPM every day because I need to know what’s going in case there’s something I should be doing. I don’t watch TV or read newspapers unless I’m looking for something specific, then I hit the NYT online, but I trust TPM will tell me whatever I need to know, calmly. Josh Marshall has been brilliant all week, saying, “Most of what you’re hearing is speculation, here’s what’s been confirmed.” Calm information from a reliable source with links to other sources so you can verify.

    Intelligent news sources are a good thing. We got in the mess we’re in now because too many people got their news from Fox. I agree that the universe bends toward justice, I think the radical shift in thinking about gay rights and immigration is good evidence of that, but I think it bends faster when people know what’s going on and act on it. I’ll cap the King quote (which originally came from Theodore Parker in 1857, I know, I know, shut up, Jenny, but I’m a bug on that quote) with “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (attributed to Burke, but nobody can find the original).
    By all means turn off toxic news, but find good, sane sources instead. That way you’ll know to go next door to your nice neighbors who happen to be Saudi and tell them that if anybody gives them trouble because of what happened in Boston, you’re there for them and they can come to you. Or whatever else you need to do to combat the toxic in the world.

  26. Maine Betty says:

    Yes, it’s a big concern of mine that local papers may disappear. How will we know what’s happening locally, how can we act and vote responsibly without that information?

  27. Maine Betty says:

    The universe does bend toward justice, I believe, but I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be in there bending right along with it.

  28. Jennifer.nennifer says:

    I gave up news decades ago. I only want to know about things I can do something about.

    My darling husband tends toward the conspiracy theorist genre of world views, so sometimes tells me bad things I can’t confirm or deny. Two years ago he kept telling me the world economy was going to implode. Every time he said it, I bought more yarn. This is why I can’t open the closet in my spare bedroom. Oddly, it took almost a year for me to figure out WHY I kept feeling compelled to stockpile yarn………

  29. Amie says:

    I stopped watching the news years ago. Too depressing, especially if you watch it right before you go to bed. I only turn it on if there is bad weather. I do listen to talk radio on the way home, but they put a comedic spin on stuff or discuss it from different view points (the guy is conservative and the woman is liberal) with lots of listeners’ input. Of course, I’m out of the loop some, so if people at work start talking about something, I don’t have a clue what they are talking about, but that’s what the internet is for. If I want to find out about something, I look it up.

  30. Amie says:

    My grandpa made me Mickey and Minnie when I was little. And, he always made a perfect pancake, even with weird shapes. I can sometimes get 1 side perfect, the other is half done and all bubbly 🙂

  31. Amie says:

    I used to listen to Science Friday podcasts when I had a job where I typed all day. That’s about all the NPR I can take.

  32. Redwood Kim says:

    I’d be happy getting the bulk of my news from NPR while I’m in the car…. but now that the kids are older, that’s not always a choice. I like to know what’s going on, within reason.But I got hooked into some feminist blogs lately, and I’m finding that those are just. too. much. It’s making me aggro and angsty. But at the same time, this stuff is happening, and if I don’t know it is, then the chances that I can do something go down to zero.
    However, my Serious Liberal is More Seriously Liberal than You friend posted a link saying that Patton Oswald was wrong, and I found myself annoyed with him. There is much pain and suffering in the world

  33. G and T says:

    I will agree that there is just too much goddam information to process on any given day, and who needs to? My hope is that people find some news that works for them, gives them good information and lets them make up their own minds about what needs to be done about it and then when they are finished with it, they step away and live their lives.

    The relentless news cycle is wearing us out and isn’t doing much to advance our understanding of anything except how competition to be first leads sometimes to professional humiliation.

  34. Chris S. says:

    I was pretty young when CNN hit the air with its new show about the first Gulf War. I remember thinking: “A 24 hour news channel? Ridiculous! There isn’t 24 hours worth of news in a day.” There are 24 hours of DAY in a day. Not all, or even much, of it is news. And if there are 24 hours to fill, they get filled with utter crap.

    I want to be informed by the news; I refused to be entertained by it (except by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. But as they constantly remind people, they’re one the COMEDY NETWORK). I also like to read news briefs from several different countries, to provide some real perspective.

  35. Sharon S. says:

    According to my mother, I live in a Disneyland world. But I always say, that’s okay mom, they know me there! I hate the news, I never listen/watch the news. I’m agree with Kelly S. I found out about Boston because my boss came out and said “my son got called back to work in the ED (he’s the director)because some bombs went off. THEN he was on TV, so we had to watch that. Give me Mickey and Peter Pan any day. I’m happy this way.

  36. Thea says:

    Thank you for this post. Reading amidst No-Nothing was cramping my head. Although I’m sure it’s not meant, post after post of “me too” begins to sound smug.

  37. Liz H. says:

    Jenny beat me to it, but the first thing that came to mind reading this was that quote- “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

    Many people above have said that they can’t stand the images, the repetitiveness, etc., but I think it’s important to distinguish the “news cycle” (which is crap), from good reporting and the primary aim of news and journalism, which is awareness. You don’t need to watch CNN and be aware of every tiny update ever. You do impact these national issues, every day, because when you’re the one telling someone else what’s going on, it makes a difference in what they think about, what they talk to others about, and what they’re aware of when they go vote (and whether they do go vote). We need strong, smart people like those commenting here to be aware and engaged. That awareness and engagement and talking is what has made a difference with gay marriage, and it can and will make a huge difference on a variety of other issues. Polls are showing that 90% of America favors background checks for weapons. Every single person who is aware and part of that 90% will make a difference in holding stupid senators accountable. Don’t underestimate what a huge impact a little bit of awareness can have.

    When I was growing up, my grandmother told me that there were three important rules in life- “Follow the golden rule; always vote (and know why); and never cross a picket line. And always eat dessert, but that’s so obvious it goes without saying.” She bought me my first NY Times, my first Dunkin’ Donut, and took me to see my first inflatable rat. She was pretty awesome.

  38. Terrie says:

    I’d like to see news get boring again. Stop aiming for entertainment. Stop packaging reality like it’s fiction. I do admire the job journalists do, it’s that next step up that becomes so problematic. Is it too much to hope that CNN embarrassed themselves so thoroughly this week that they’ll dial it down?

  39. Terrie says:

    I tend to be a news hound — which is hard because I find so much of the presentation of the news maddening. ( I get totally sucked in by thoughtful commentary though.) I really think the problem is the 24 hour news cycle. Thinking too fondly of the good old days with a one hour news broadcast at 6 and a half hour at 10 is probably just nostalgic delusion, but this need to fill the airwaves all day long has led to such incredible irresponsibility — and from the major news outlets no less. I think if the news was packaged in reasonable bites and was presented without the melodrama, it wouldn’t be so damaging.

  40. Talking Points Memo. It’s a political news blog, but he covers other big news like the bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion.

  41. Glee says:

    I have a journalism degree. I mourn the loss of the good daily paper. When I moved to SoCal a decade ago I was so pleased to be able to get the LATimes delivered to my doorstep in time for breakfast coffee and I took the time each morning to read a good portion of it. It was well written. It was local. It was global –they had terrific correspondents all over the world. That was then. This is now the age of instant. The papers are not gaining new readers. My son who is 35 is the only one I know of his generation who would read a paper. Now the LAT is small, the numerous special editions for outlying areas are gone. The correspondents are gone and it is very sad. My friend Dan Gilmour, formerly of the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News has been working in what he terms citizen journalism for quite a while now. He is terrific, studied, checks facts befor posting, and gives it a good name. However, we also have non-news from at least two sides of the political spectrum in the US. I try to read the paper. I am not a video or movie person, so I never watched TV news. I did watch the moon landing live, tho. And things that need video like Mt St Helen’s blowing her top and wonderful waterfalls are fortunately findable on YouTube if necessary. I now know where to go looking Online fromFacebook postings because I am blessed with friends from all walks of life in many places. It works for me. I used to rail at my mother for not paying attention to the Vietnam war. She became engaged went my brother went into the military and thus it touched her. I try to figure out what I can do to help or change what I don’t like and ignore what I can’t. Better for my blood pressure. Getting angry does not help me or anyone else.

  42. Micki says:

    I need to change my home page from Yahoo, because they just feed me the stupidest news stuff. It seems designed to get one’s heart pumping in anger or outrage, but when one reads the actual article, most of the time it just fizzles out for lack of facts.

    I think it’s really important to keep up with the news that’s important to you. I subscribe to a weekly magazine that carries in-depth reporting about the world, and I have a business newspaper (those businessmen don’t seem to do bullshit — or at least not celebrity bullshit — like some most-common-denominator news sources do), a different magazine and a news compiler on my daily list of websites to visit.

    It’s important to be able to read headlines, too, and know what they aren’t saying. I managed not to read any articles about the Boston Marathon until just an hour ago because I knew from the headlines that they were just filling space — no real news there.

    I’d like to stick my head in the sand, but the world is a little too dangerous to do that these days. Also, I’m getting old enough that I really need to stand up and be a responsible citizen . . . .

    News, itself, can be an extremely good thing. But news sources? There are some really toxic ones out there, so be careful!

  43. My parents always watch the news with dinner. Ugh.

    I try to balance be an informed citizen (of the country and the world) and not overwhelming myself with the negative. The negative has been winning, so I too am going to have to pull further back.

    I think I will have to stop watching the morning news while I do my stretches–it is too miserable a way to start the day.

    Dr. Andrew Weil suggested going on an 8-week news fast periodically to cleanse your system of all that stress. I’m getting ready to do something along those lines, although this was clearly not the week to start.

    Also, I am going to begin avoiding FB and Twitter in the midst of this kind of calamity. While in some ways the community and outreaching of warmth is comforting, there is also a lot of angst and yelling I can do without.

    My new thing is trying to take weekends as Internet-free zones. We’ll see how that goes. But I did it last weekend, and it felt wonderful.

  44. queenofstoneage says:

    I cannot agree more with this comment.

    This is a site written/curated by fiction writers so it may skew toward people who read fiction to find escape from reality. I have been known to do that myself. That’s how I discovered Welcome to Temptation, a book I am currently rereading.

    But my favorite part of the day is reading The New York Times at breakfast before going in to work, now supplemented by the Boston Globe, another great local paper.

    We are citizens who have an obligation to inform ourselves of the facts at all levels of life so that we can participate in our government/society and perform our civic duties. This is not optional if we wish to remain in a democracy.

    And we need to be emotionally strong to read about bad people doing bad things to good people and about places where life is not good for a good many people–that is the reality of life. Compared to other places and people, Americans have it pretty good, Whatever stability and comfort we currently experience can disappear in a moment. That is the lesson of history. Each of us has a role to play in keeping our less than perfect experiment in democracy a going proposition. We need to develop the critical skills to evaluate the truth in what we read as news, just as we do for the fiction we read to escape awhile from reality. Just as we don’t read every book out there, we should not read from every purveyor purporting to sell the facts.

    There is a lot of bullshit on the electronic media. Be selective, read the best journalism. To say the news is toxic to us as human beings and we should avoid contact with it is, in my opinion, the wrong approach. Each day the news represents our collective soul, which has its dark places as well as light. To give up participating in reality because of physic discomfort is wrong in a democracy. I would say “man up” at this point, but on this blog I will say “woman up”..

  45. German Chocolate Betty says:

    In 2001 when I moved from the US to Germany, I forgot to have my cable TV activated because my life was so chaotic (I moved to help my elderly in-laws after my husband’s death — and they both died within months of my moving there). After a couple of years, I realized I didn’t miss anything, so I never activated it (when I wanted entertainment, I watched one of my videos).

    Now I get stuff over the Internet. Because of my job I follow/monitor newscycles and social media reactions to large scale crises (Fukushima, the plant explosion in Waco, tsunami coverage, etc.) and terrorist events like the Boston Marathon as part of my job. (Too long to explain.) So I have been following closely. I do find, however, that as a result I have become something of a junkie.

    Still don’t watch TV, but Internet, oh, baby. Always checking in.

    Sigh.

    (However, I did have the week before last off of work and I FLATLY refused to check my work email, which I normally do. So a couple of people were upset — but they got the “out of office” msg, in which I had written that the email account would not be checked. Tough patootie, I say!)

  46. Kate (the G kate) says:

    You know, I sometimes have guilt about not knowing what’s going on in the world, but I’ve got to protect my own sanity. I know that sounds selfish. (Oh God. My mother used to tell me daily how selfish I was. No one told me I was supposed to be selfish at that age.)

    But here’s the thing. Outside of voting, or maybe marching on Washington, There is not much I can do globally. I can pray, or send FGBVs to the people in Boston, but can I actually DO anything helpful. I don’t think so.

    What I can do is act locally. Be kind to people I contact in day to day life. Be compassionate. Try to teach the kids I hang out with by being a good example. Write stories that make people laugh, or feel good about. (Don’t always succeed in that).

    I can do all of that without knowing the specifics of what horrible things human beings are doing to one another. Because if you look closely enough you can find horrific things every single day. Events that make me want to crawl under the bed and stay there.

    But if I spend my life living in fear then the bad guys win. When they take my freedom to deal with life in a positive way within my own sphere of experience I might as well give up. And don’t worry, plenty of awful crap has happened in my life too. (We live with the aftermath of Irene, for one.)

    I cannot carry the dark side of life on my shoulders. It would crush me. So I choose instead to dwell on it. I know it’s there. I have compassion for people who are dealing with it in the moment. World peace is the first thing on my Christmas list every year. But I will not bring it into my heart and let it live there.

    So although I do sometimes listen to the news I try to focus my attention on what’s happening here. Within my sphere of influence. It’s the only place can do any good.

  47. Kate (the G kate) says:

    You know, I sometimes have guilt about not knowing what’s going on in the world, but I’ve got to protect my own sanity. I know that sounds selfish. (Oh God. My mother used to tell me daily how selfish I was. No one told me I was supposed to be selfish at that age.)

    But here’s the thing. Outside of voting, or maybe marching on Washington, There is not much I can do globally. I can pray, or send FGBVs to the people in Boston, but can I actually DO anything helpful. I don’t think so.

    What I can do is act locally. Be kind to people I contact in day to day life. Be compassionate. Try to teach the kids I hang out with by being a good example. Write stories that make people laugh, or feel good about. (Don’t always succeed in that).

    I can do all of that without knowing the specifics of what horrible things human beings are doing to one another. Because if you look closely enough you can find horrific things every single day. Events that make me want to crawl under the bed and stay there.

    But if I spend my life living in fear then the bad guys win. When they take my freedom to deal with life in a positive way within my own sphere of experience I might as well give up. And don’t worry, plenty of awful crap has happened in my life too. (We live with the aftermath of Irene, for one.)

    I cannot carry the dark side of life on my shoulders. It would crush me. So I choose instead not to dwell on it. I know it’s there. I have compassion for people who are dealing with it in the moment. World peace is the first thing on my Christmas list every year. But I will not bring it into my heart and let it live there.

    So although I do sometimes listen to the news I try to focus my attention on what’s happening here. Within my sphere of influence. It’s the only place can do any good.

  48. CateM says:

    I understand not wanting to waste time and energy on things you can’t do anything about. Why watch the news about a disaster, when you could spend good time with someone in your life? But the optimist in me wants to be prepared if there’s something I can do in the future. It could be voting, or passing on accurate information to someone I’ll run into later. Or maybe getting involved in a cause I otherwise wouldn’t know anything about. There’s also something to be said for widening your horizons.

    The trick is to make sure that picking a news source you trust doesn’t become picking the news source that fits best with your bias.

    That being said, I don’t read the news everyday. I’d rather be entertained than informed. There are times in my life where I really do need to take some time to recharge and only read about positive, inspiring things. But I don’t want to spend my whole life recharging.

  49. Micki says:

    I just read a wonderful blog where the woman was able to point at some of the good things that came out of the recent tragedy. People arranged for “random acts of pizza” to provide people who needed it with a meal — others got on-line to offer their guest bedrooms and sofas to people who are stranded or who have injured relatives . . . .

    This is all news, too, but not news I saw anywhere else. I need some filters that let me get this kind of news. (If I find out anything more about where to find out the good stuff, I’ll come back and post . . . .)

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