Managing the News

One of the earliest pieces of advice I was given, in my first lecture at Glasgow Polytechnic (now Caledonian University), was to always read the newspaper. Didn’t matter what direction, read the Sports pages first if you want, but read it all, stay up to date, know what is going on in the world.

I should point out that this was before the internet took off, when news was delivered via radio, TV, or on paper, and it was good advice and, although I’ve not bought a newspaper for decades, I do try and keep up with what is going on in the world and ohhh my days what a shit show it seems to increasingly be.

That’s my perception at least, that the world is getting worse and worse, with more and more of the news being dominated by extreme acts/events/people. Wall to wall horrors assault our senses from all angles. Every day something awful happens that seems to trump (horrific pun intended) the last, and it’s gotten to the point where I avoid news broadcasts purely to avoid the direct assault on my senses.

Of course it’s likely that things only seem worse as global communication is so much better and faster so we hear about more of these things as and when they happen, rather than being an article in a newspaper 2 or 3 days after the fact (if at all). These days the multi-angle assault we get across all our social media channels and news sources feels like a constant barrage and I, for one, am lost in the trenches. Defeated.

And then I read this – available to Friends of Dense Discovery – that Kai wrote:

“To combat defeatism and stay engaged, some more or less obvious things we can do: read, listen, watch broadly to gain more context; dip only lightly and occasionally into what I call ‘fast and furious media’, i.e. news and social platforms; be with friends and family; be an active citizen: sign petitions, write to MPs and join protests; donate; walk/hike/exercise; immerse ourselves in nature; help a local cause; be extra empathetic to the those around us; allow ourselves to grieve; allow ourselves to experience joy.”

Kai Brach – Dense Discovery

The dip only lightly and occasionally into fast and furious media is an approach I’ve taken over the past few years, if not longer. As a way to manage my own mental health and general wellbeing, it’s akin to the steps I’ve taken to remove toxic/negative people from my life. I do not need the drama.

Of course the rest of his advice resonates, immersing myself among the trees, or along the shore of a loch, is a surefire way to reset my humanity. And of course it’s also important to take a step back and remember that the one thing that news media has gotten very good at is reporting on atrocities. Alas they don’t report on the good things all that often. The world isn’t all that bad, on the whole.

In short; The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better.

So my advice on how best to manage your consumption of world events? Turn off the news, pause a moment, look up at the clouds as they scroll overheard, find moments of beauty in your day and… breathe.

There will ALWAYS be more news tomorrow, let it go for today.