Thursday, July 24, 2014

Switching off the News

Stationary, tools, craft supply or plant shops... I can't be trusted at any of the above. :) #ilovegardening #thingsiloveaboutwinter
Unrelated photo of pretty flowers

As a child, the news was a daily routine in our house. Each night my father watched two news broadcasts and one current affairs program. This made for a fair bit of shushing of we three children, as it took us time to reign in our impulse to talk, or wait until the ads. Every now and then the broadcaster would announce that "the following images may disturb some viewers", and this was our cue to scamper off to our bedrooms until we were told we could return.

Then, as now, bad things happened 'on the news.' That's how it felt to me as a child - that these things were just happening on the news. When I was a little older I remember watching a report about the prophesied end of the world, as a religious sect filled in to a cave, convinced that this was their last night of existence. I felt fear, afraid they were right, despite my Mothers reassurances to the contrary. I went to bed full of apprehension. I had probably forgotten all about it the next day, until I saw the follow up story that night as the sect meekly filed back out of the cave again. Funny the things you remember. I've had that memory for at least twenty five years now.

As such, I can't help but wonder about the impact the news has on my children. The News seems more graphic now, more sensationalised. There's more footage, better footage, of every catastrophe worldwide. Single topics can be broadcast all day, or for many weeks, making them difficult to avoid. I know we had a no-news policy during the Daniel Morcombe trial, as the media saturation was so intense.  I find myself asking my husband so often lately to change channels while he watches the news - a note of urgency in my voice - as Cohen looks on with wonder and curiosity at yet more horrors. This past week he has heard of a plane being shot down, bodies falling from the sky, missiles in Gaza, a woman buried beneath rubble for two days. And in the aftermath we've had conversations where I try to find the right words to explain these events to a five year old, while trying to ensure he feels safe. I actually read a great article about this topic this morning - and it brings up the effect these news stories have on adults, as well as children, which is worth keeping in mind. Do we really need to expose ourselves to all this negativity on a daily basis?

My answer is no. There is too much horror for me. I don't want to hide my head in the sand, but I also don't need all the gory details and visuals. I want more balance in the content I am consuming. I want my reading to be adding value to my life or inspiring me, rather than contributing to a feeling of being unsafe in the world. Thanks to technology, unlike my husband or my father, I read my news online. In this way I have more freedom to choose which content I want to read, and which I wish to avoid. And for now at least, I will be keeping the news switched off and be encouraging my husband to do the same.
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