I have stopped following the news.
I feel guilty for this, embarrassed to tell you. Being an informed member of society is an essential part of democracy, particularly with the shitshow that is currently in power.
How can we know what’s going on – the bigger picture, the world events, if we don’t follow the news?
Like many, I’d have to pause the news during the pandemic.
Everything felt raw and fragile and then more horrifyingly, numb. The numbers began to blur into one another, the incompetence too much to bear. But like a well-informed citizen, I would pick up the iPad once again and check back in with the rest of the world.
This time it’s different, or it’s the same?
Once again I find myself overwhelmed – the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, climate emergency, inflation, millions facing starvation from the grain crisis, Brexit, droughts, rape, murder, racism, food banks, cyber-war, petrol costs, terrorism, heatwaves, floods, children with not enough to eat. How can we bear it all?
I’d begun to check the news several times a day. Often before I’d even got out of bed, I’d reach for my phone to check the time, and automatically check the news, check the weather, scroll through the world.
Then I’d check again each time I sat down with a cuppa or settled for a rest. Then again when I got up from my rest. Then again right before bed.
Never have we been so bombarded with News. Never have we been more connected to world events. And that’s a good thing. We need to know what’s going on but it’s exhausting.
It was hard, at first, to give up that digital dopamine hit. Guiltily deleting the apps, I felt isolated, cut off from the world. Being mostly housebound I see few people. There is no office chat when you are home alone and if the dog has views on current events she keeps them to herself.
I feel more alone.
But I feel more at peace.
Life has a slight holiday feel to it, pottering away in my own little world. My anxiety has eased a little. I’m sleeping – well I want to say better but you know, menopause, but what sleep I get feels better. I’m reading more. Each time I reach for my phone to check the news, I reach for a book instead. Or some knitting and a talking book. Life feels calmer.
I’m aware that the world is still turning. That terrible things are still happening. But they happen whether I read about them or not.
What is it that I can do?
News wasn’t always like this. How we consumed it has changed in my lifetime, from the morning paper and the news at 6 ‘o’clock after the Clangers. This is not a criticism of journalism and the vital role it plays in our democracy. Yes, we are more connected. Yes, we can see what’s happening in real-time, have our finger on the pulse, and follow the action live. But is it helping us? Are we better for it?
I don’t know.
It wears me out. Is it just me?
The reason we vote for politicians, for people we can trust, is so that they can get on with worrying about all this big stuff so that we don’t have to. We can get on with our own little lives.
Maybe it’s not the news. Maybe it’s not the awful events.
Maybe it’s knowing that those in charge are out of their depth, tell lies, make deals with their mates, are not looking out for the likes of you and me. For all of us.
Maybe it’s our powerlessness – not being able to trust the people in charge, not being able to make a change, maybe that’s what’s too painful to see.
Send me your thoughts, but no headlines, please.