Why the News is Bad For You

why the news is bad for you - living a gentle life with helen edwards authorDo you watch or listen to the news anymore? It has become increasingly difficult to do so, without muting and turning off so many stories. On social media you can at least pass by or block a particularly distressing story. While we want and need to share the terrible things that are happening across the world, to stay informed, incite action, and continue to fight the good fight, there are just too many sensationalised, distressing, unnecessary stories. Every moment of violence, torture and evil, is snapped up by mainstream media, and pushed out into your face instantly. They love to use as much graphic vision as possible, loaded words and misleading and emotive headlines.

The trouble with this is twofold. One, people can become immune to violence and horror. It becomes so commonplace that it can become unnoticed. The other, is that people can become so overwhelmed with grief, with hopelessness and powerlessness, that they just give up. Neither of these are helpful. Neither of these increases the goodness of humanity, or creates change. It just destroys people’s hearts and motivation to continue.

Case in point – I adore whales. I don’t just like them, I adore them and their big beautiful enormity. I adore the way they nurture their babies and have a midwife for the birth. I adore their shape and the way they move and breach in the sea, crashing the water apart to rise into the sunlight. I adore their gentle nature, and the fact that such a huge creature eats such teeny tiny creatures for their nourishment. So you can imagine my distress at the recent story about this beautiful whale who was found filled up with plastic. The sperm whale washed up in Sulawesi had flip-flops, bottles, bags and 115 drinking cups in its stomach…..about 6 kilos of plastic….Those kinds of stories can break your heart and make it impossible to breathe. You wonder what future we are leaving for our children and how you taking your reusable bottle and tea cup can possibly combat the waste in Indonesia and China. I chose not to read much of this story. I have avoided images and video. I have only the basic information. It is self-protection.

Once you have an awareness about problems, you do not need to repeatedly see the worst possible examples of that problem. Awareness is needed. The issues of the mental health crisis of the children left to languish on Nauru, is just one example. If nobody speaks of these things, how can any of us know?  In both humanitarian and environmental issues, the media has a job to do. It is their job to inform, educate and encourage us all to be better, to agitate for political change and action.

But repeatedly watching or listening to distressing stories is not necessarily helpful for you as an individual. If you have an awareness of the issues that we are facing as a planet, and you are living your life in a way to make a difference, there is no need for you to continually fill your head with stories that leave you gutted. Find what you seek and then take the steps to live a more gentle life. Or in some cases to live a less gentle life, taking bold steps towards change.

Trying to do the right thing by our planet and our children’s futures can seem hopeless at times. It’s simply overwhelming, especially when those who hold the power to change things don’t seem to listen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was no poverty, no rape, no murder, no violence. If people did not have to flee their homes due to atrocities. If women and children were not beaten in their own homes. If men and women could just be themselves and be free to express their emotions and their sexuality without judgement. If disabled people were respected and understood and included in the world without question. If cultural differences were celebrated as a joy and indigenous peoples across the world were respected for their ownership and relationship to land and their extraordinary knowledge and skills.

What if you could go to the shop and not have to stress about how much plastic your food is wrapped in? Or if switching on a light was simply run on renewable energy? Or if clean industry and agriculture were the norm? Or all vehicles were non-petrol run? That people who made things were treated fairly no matter where in the world they were? And that nature and all her creatures were respected and cared for?

Imagine that?

It’s exhausting when you try to consider all of these things that make up being a good human, knowing you are so small in it all. But you are not small. You are a big, beautiful, living, breathing human with the chance to live a life that makes a difference and cares for people and planet. Turn off the television and the radio. Disconnect from the socials each day. Breathe deeply each moment and stay on your path, no matter how much the world seems to be working against you. You are not the only one. Together, we are magic.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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