Bad News All Around?

Only if we let it be.

This week, I happened to be in a hotel lobby more often than I usually am. This lobby featured a large television screen on which CNN ruled. Each time I looked up from my work and glanced at the screen, I either saw scenes from Ukraine or a commercial. I gather that Tik-Tok and social media aimed at both adults and youth are also devoting endless hours to views of carnage and mayhem in Ukraine.

Everything else has faded from view, including rising crime, ballooning inflation, the damage from COVID and COVID policies and treatment, President Biden’s possible mental deficiencies, illegal immigration, school indoctrination, even climate change and inequality if your politics lean in that direction. (I could go on, but you can enlarge the list on your own.)

Note that everything listed above is negative. Is it any wonder that there is also pessimistic news (currently being shoved to the side, but waiting to resurface) regarding an increase in depression and drug use, young people’s lack of resilience, and the extent to which loneliness torments so many? Do you think there might be a connection?

Leaving aside whether we are being politically manipulated by the media on the issue of Russia and Ukraine, what do we think happens when we constantly surround ourselves with fear and negativity?

Bad news sells. It sells TV, it sells newspapers, it sells drugs, it sells political movements and ideologies. While good news sells soda and cars—drink or drive this and the opposite sex will fall at your feet, you will become wealthy and have a great life—bad news sells emergency food supplies and potentially destructive government policies, among other things. (Interestingly, optimism and cheerfulness traditionally sell presidential candidates.)

Putting one’s head in the sand to ignore harsh realities isn’t advisable, but welcoming it into one’s world 24/7 may be worse. Allowing it to surround one’s children is completely unwise. And, as ancient Jewish wisdom teaches us, as adults we are responsible for finding those areas where we personally need growth and discipling the child within ourselves.

Refusing to buy into hysteria and doomsday scenarios by limiting our exposure to them is important. Shielding our children from the cascade of gloomy negativity, even if it means homeschooling or moving to a different neighborhood where we can find others with the same views as us, is imperative.

We can dispel darkness with a single candle. My husband and I try to claim the mantle of happy warriors by refusing to buy into the idea that we need a constant stream of bad news assaulting us. We try to remember to take time each day to express gratitude for our many blessings and to train our thoughts on what we have rather than what we lack. While we try to do what we can for those in trouble, it is important not to let hurting people and calamitous situations overcome the positives in our lives. In difficult times, that’s a lesson that needs to be relearned on a daily basis.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Susan’s Musing article.
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