Keeping up with the news is one hell of an emotional commitment these days.
Day in and day out, all we’re hearing is Fascism, Racism, War, Climate Change, Natural Disaster, Violence Against Women, LGBTQ Rights Threatened, Healthcare Crisis, Border Concentration Camps, Opioid Epidemic, Mass Shooting, Mass Shooting, Mass Shooting. Oh, and don’t forget the Mass Shootings.
It’s rough out there. The temptation is stronger than ever to just tune out and live in a happy little bubble of ignorance.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if giving in to that temptation is really such a bad idea.
I used to think that as a citizen of the world, one has an obligation to stay informed about current events. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is hunky-dory is socially irresponsible, if not downright morally reprehensible, right?
But then 2016 came swinging in and….it was a lot. And it continued to be a lot, unrelentingly, up to and including the present moment. And I felt myself starting to hit the limit of my mental capacity to handle multiple daily reminders that democracy is a sham, the planet is on fire, and the end is nigh.
So I started to wonder: do I really need to read the news every day? Do I need to click on every CNN article that presents itself to me? Am I actually helping the global situation by staying informed, or am I only making myself miserable for no tangible benefit?
The truth is, I’m pretty certain that at the end of the day it doesn’t make a damn bit of positive difference in the world whether I’m keeping abreast of the situation or not. For the most part, I don’t have any personal power to make a difference in the situation. At this point, I barely feel like my votes have any meaning, let alone my voice. Removing myself from this equation doesn’t tip the scale in any meaningful way. I know my place in the world and I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about it.
And yet, it’s still not as simple as just realizing that and guiltlessly tuning out.
It takes more than emotional fatigue to shake the influence of a hundred history lessons drilled into my head, telling me that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, or that ignorance is the root and stem of all evil, or that an uninformed populace is a populace in slavery.
Sure, it doesn’t particularly matter if I know what’s going on in the world. But it always matters that the Collective We know what’s going on. Because collectively, we’re in the shit right now- maybe it gets better and maybe it doesn’t, but if we stop paying attention then it definitely doesn’t.
I hate keeping up with the news these days. I think we all do. But if we all decide to turn our backs at the same time, where does that leave us?
So I continue to keep up with the news, chastising myself for thinking that I have the right not to, while desperately wishing that I could just stop giving a shit.
Activists talk about hoping for a better tomorrow. Personally, I’m always just hoping that tomorrow is a slow news day.