Every weekday morning while sipping coffee, doing my hair and/or trying to decide if a shirt needs to be ironed, I watch the news.
Well, that is, I used to watch.
Now, as of about three weeks ago, I might dare to watch a few minutes of local weather and traffic. But if Good Morning America comes on before I can change the channel, I flinch when Robin Roberts or George Stephanopoulos utters, “More bad signs for the economy.” Then I finally find the remote and occasional refuge in PBS. Somehow even Arthur feels better than the gloom and doom of our current political and economic situation.
The fact that I, a former news junkie, would rather listen to a talking aardvark speaks volumes about how bad the news has been lately, as well as the media’s ability to instill fear (and my need for a.m. background noise). But I’d bet I’m not the only one to dread the depressing coverage.
Watching the news can be a psychologically perilous activity. Why? Because as they say in the biz, “If it bleeds, it leads.” And in our 24/7 news coverage era, that translates to a lot of anxiety-producing news stories. I mean, which is going to make you clutch your chair and watch past a commercial break: a reporter announcing that your house is just fine or a frowning journalist who tells you that your walls are riddled with cancer-causing mold and fire-breathing toads?
Cancer and toads win every time.
So in our culture of fear, I’ve taken a few steps back, just to preserve my own wellbeing. Yes, times are hard and the global economy is teetering. Yes, life might not get easier for a while. And yes, believe it or not, I still want and need to be aware of what’s happening in my community and in the world. But I don’t have to inundate myself with fear-based broadcasting. Instead, I’ve started focusing more on the positive. This morning, for example, after successfully beating Robin to the punch, I read Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, two favorite passages that remind me a Christian can stand firm and be blessed in even trying circumstances. And how about a rousing, how-dare-we-be-scared-of-anything reading of Psalm 112: 6-8? That beats GMA‘s, Today‘s and Fox and Friends‘ coverage combined.
The news isn’t going away—nor should it. But I can still control how much of it I ingest—and how early.