Breaking Up With Breaking News

If someone were to approach you saying they have both good and bad news, which one would you ask to hear first? Maybe hearing bad news first followed by good news will help the conversation end on a good note. What if hearing good news lightens the blow of the bad news that’s following it? Sadly, when watching the news we don’t get to pick.

In the information age that we live in, it’s encouraged to stay informed, whether it be with politics, social movements, sports and even entertainment. Nowadays, you don’t have to wait for the newspaper to turn up on your lawn or go searching on the internet to be caught up with the latest news. Social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat now have designated pages filled with current events ranging from the newest meme to a live stream of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

So, isn’t it a good thing that the apps that so many of us are addicted to help us stay in the loop? Not exactly, considering everything is good in moderation.

Keeping up with the news daily is a double-edged sword. Yes, you will know exactly what’s happening in the country and will avoid seeming uninformed. But think about the event’s that are covered by the news, specifically deaths, accidents and war. Not only are these topics traumatic enough to gain local or national coverage, but they’re worrisome as well.

Consuming bad news on a regular basis can have a serious effect on one’s mental health. It can also change the way we view the world we live in. If we are constantly being bombarded with distressing news, we will most likely believe that these events are common, and could very well happen to us.

The Science of Us, a section of The Cut that centers in on research involving mental health and relationships, covered this idea in its animation series for New York Magazine. They included a nationwide poll that found that 25 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed in the previous month due to the news.

They explained that it’s pretty natural for someone to feel overwhelmed when keeping up with the news because our brains are wired to be overly affected by the traumatic events that the news picks up. The main reason one can feel this way is because they may be taking shortcuts while processing negative information. The Science of Us claims the most common shortcut is “the availability heuristic.”

We are all guilty of doing this. This basically means when we see something on the news that leaves us feeling shocked or scared, we calculate the likelihood that this could happen to us. For example, say you’re watching coverage of a school shooting. The Science of Us explains that obsessively watching this coverage burns a memory in your mind, which leads you to believe that it’s much more likely to happen than it truly is.

It’s not only events that involve death and loss that leave us feeling uneasy. In fact, mental health therapists reported an acute rise in Americans suffering from “Trump Anxiety Disorder.” Explained — this is primarily diagnosed in those who fear President Trump is leading the world into oblivion through both his words and actions.

So should you just avoid watching the news at all costs to avoid this unnecessary fear and anxiety?

Of course not, considering there are ways to combat this way of thinking while still being able to stay informed. One way is to spend less time consuming and more time creating in your reality. Instead of spending time immersing yourself in the internet, social media and negative news, fill your days with good conversations with those around you!

Another way to avoid news anxiety is to find ways to consume media in a limited, healthy way. Instead of scrolling your Twitter newsfeed each morning, try subscribing to a weekly or even monthly news publication.

It’s easy to get caught up in the media and the injustices of the world we live in today, but the best way to overcome these anxieties is to take action.


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