Ignoring the News: Sensible Plan or Foolhardy and Immoral?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new obsession.  And it’s not good for my mental health.

I literally cannot stop reading the Guardian on my phone.

The Guardian has not, it has to be said, had a good 2016.  First David Bowie died, and then everything else the Guardian holds dear disappeared into a giant sinkhole, never to return.  And as the Guardian is my go-to messenger of despair for the demise of the liberal world, it has taken all my hope with it too.  Daily I find myself lapping up news stories from across the globe which seem to become ever more terrifying with each passing day.  Brexit, Trump, the fall of Western civilisation, the inevitable future collapse of the known world into an apocalyptic Dark Age.

I try to remember when I was last this miserable about the state of the world.  Was it in 2001, when I moped around Japan for about six months after September 11th thinking World War 3 was starting?  Was it during that Religious Studies lesson on war and peace in 1996 when I learned that the Russians had nuclear warheads pointed right at us and put together an urgent plan of action that involved hiding underneath my cabin bed and hoping for instantaneous death?

Was this what it was like in the 1960s, I wonder, as the Cuban missile crisis loomed, JFK and Martin Luther King got shot and Vietnam raged?  Or more terrifyingly, the 1930s, a decade which provides enjoyable viewing through the rose-tinted prism of period dramas about the well dressed and well connected, but which must by anyone’s reckoning have been a scary time to be alive.

Or is the moral of the story here simply that bad things happen.  They happen all the time, have always happened and always will.  It’s just now we have to live it all, in real time and glorious technicolour, thanks to the wonders of the internet, and with it we all consider ourselves to be roving reporters, capturing images on our smartphones, providing the commentary on the age like a tech-savvy modern day Samuel Pepys.

So what does one do?  How does one counter the sneaking suspicion that not only is modern life rubbish, but it always has been, there was no Golden Age, no matter how charmingly attired everyone was in the olden days, and all life is going the way of the dinosaurs anyway.  Should we live like there’s no tomorrow?  Hold our loved ones close and hope for the best?  Or do we just grit our teeth, batten down the hatches and ignore the news?  To do so seems somehow morally suspect, as if making a conscious decision to look the other way as atrocities rage, like the proverbial priest and lawyer who walk past in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is to allow our inaction to give its blessing to those who offend us and our humanity.  Yet for the sake of my own mental health I have to believe that things will be OK.  That things are always OK in the end.  Even the dinosaurs have been jauntily resurrected in Hollywood movies and on children’s pyjamas.  That must have made the last great mass extinction all worthwhile, right?

Whenever the going gets tough-and it’s sure to get tough-I remind myself that this too shall pass, but then so will the comfort, the happiness, the good times.  It will all pass, so I guess all we can do is make every moment count, be good people, look out for each other and be the best we can be.  Like the baby Jesus in his crib getting a disturbing gift of myrrh from the three wise men, the spectre of death is always upon us.  It’s just that most of the time we are able to conveniently ignore it.  Like I will be conveniently ignoring the news when it all gets too much.

Lucy At Home

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    I’ve started ignoring the news as well. Deleted all the apps. LA LA LA LA ITS NOT HAPPENING….!

  2. I stopped watching the News about a year ago (wrote a post along similar lines) I was getting serious anxiety about everything. It really helped. Now I only listen to it on the radio occasionally. God forbid if a celebrity dies in January! The news will write off the entire year!

    1. Min says:

      That sounds like a very good plan. Yes, I’m sure the year was jinxed from the outset with all those celebrity deaths so early on!

  3. Caroline Sylla says:

    I still prefer the Guardian above all papers. 😀
    Never watched the news on TV since having children (oldest is 5). How can we find the time to sit down and watch TV with kids around? Not my thing lol!
    So it is the Guardian (and MSN news briefly) on my phone, on the go, or on the computer!
    The Guardian had been incredible in supporting EEA nationals in the UK (I’m French by the way, a bargaining chip).

    1. Min says:

      Me too, I love the Guardian. I feel like I’m surrounded by all my like-minded friends when I’m reading it. I have been trying to wean myself off a bit recently though, for reasons mentioned in the blog post. Argh!

  4. Vicki Tongeman says:

    Some say our job is to feel as good as ethically possible and that will have a positive effect on the rest of the world… So if reading the news makes you anxious, don’t do it! X

    1. Min says:

      I have definitely slowed down with my news consumption recently, and feel a lot better for it.

  5. Lucy At Home says:

    Iv’e also stopped following the news for the sake of my mental health. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn’t seem to be able to watch the news and then flick over to another channel and get on with my life – I would be wondering about the families and friends of the victims, or fearing some disaster that was forecast. I don’t ignore it because I don’t care. I ignore it because I care very deeply. The thing is, as you’ve touched on, these terrible things have probably been happening all the time, throughout history BUT, up until relatively recently, we didn’t know what was going on on the other side of the world, certainly not in real time. So we only had to deal with our own local problems. Now we’re worrying about things happening all over the globe and it really does make for distressing news.

    On a happier note, someone loved this post so much, they added it to the blogcrush linky so feel free to grab your “I’ve been featured” blog badge! #blogcrush

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! That is a lovely thing to hear that someone added me to the linky! Very chuffed. And I am exactly the same as you-caring too much is my issue as well. Not too long ago I burst into tears into the street after seeing an ambulance marked “neonatal and paediatric intensive care” with its blue lights flashing. I have a tendency to overthink everything, especially if it’s upsetting.

  6. kimberly says:

    Such a thoughtful post. It is a scary world, but what can we do but acknowledge it but carry on too? If we can’t smile, what’s the point of it all? LOVE the dinosaurs comment. Hope we come back on big alien take-over’s pyjamas! #BlogCrush

    1. Min says:

      Quite right, there is nothing else we can do. Yes, all hope is not lost if we come back on the alien children’s pyjamas!

  7. Maria says:

    I’ve not watched the news since moving out on my own! I always remember it being on growing up and even when I wasn’t watching it would sink in and leave me wondering what world I was growing up in. I’m glad my own little girl doesn’t have to witness a lot of the terrible things that are on the news.

    1. Min says:

      Good plan. I can still remember things from the news when I was a child, so they must have had an effect on me.

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