One of the major things I’ve changed in my daily routine this year, is the elimination of my old obsession with watching the news or immersing myself in news stories online. I considered it a vital part of my day, something I needed to do to stay informed – though I’ll be honest and admit it had become an addiction that would take up hours.
I never realised just how much of a negative influence it was having on me. But it doesn’t take much to see just why it can affect so many of us in our overall mindset to life. Here are the headlines I saw immediately as I opened Bing today (and these are just local to UK):
- Baby Dies in Hot Car
- Stress Ended Marriage
- Limo was “Death Trap”
- Man Shot Dead
- Vehicle Fire Attack
- What Went Wrong?
- Gang Attacks Paramedic
Facebook, which has more world headlines, concentrates on these issues:
- North Korea
- Brexit (the continuing argument/debate/farce)
- Donald Trump (obviously negative, and rightly so!)
- Acid attack
The lexicon deliberately stirs up fear. These words stand out on the headlines:
- Major risk
Even in sport, the main headline has the word “loses” rather than wins!
The Negative Effects
Imagine being exposed to this every morning. What a terrible way to start the day! Well that’s exactly what I used to do. First thing each morning, I’d switch on the news and catch up with current affairs. Then inevitably feel angry or sad about something. I’m not the sort of person who isn’t deeply affected by suffering and injustice and so it’s not water off a duck’s back. But even the thickest of skins will be being programmed by this shit; dragged down by the negativity.
And that’s before you get to any social media, where public debate can ramp up the negativity 10 fold! I used to spend ages following threads on Facebook and Twitter or comments below online articles and inevitably, it ends up with arguments, name calling, racism and references to Nazis! If that is your life most days, it’s building a firestorm in your subconscious mind and one day it’ll come raging through and externalise because your life is a reflection of what goes on inside yourself.
If you believe the world is a harsh, nasty, dangerous, fearful place, then that’s all you will notice in your reality. You will pick out the negativity and choose to stay focused on that, rather than the good.
Look, I’m all for keeping up with current affairs. I would never want to become ignorant of what is happening in the world. But you can become too immersed in it. It becomes an addiction. Us humans have the habit of zoning in on the negatives; that’s why the news is as it is.
These media outlets know what draws us in and what will bring them ratings. Good news doesn’t do that, or trust me, all you would be seeing is cats on skateboards and seals being saved from a bludgeoning! That’s not to say they don’t go totally overboard and ramp up the fear – they absolutely do!
And the news is overwhelmingly unbalanced in terms of positive and negative stories, when there are blatantly just as many if not more good things happening in the world. They just aren’t considered newsworthy (or rather, ratings-worthy).
Look at much of the titles and tag lines on things like YouTube. They are often phrased negatively because they know that people are more likely to click on that than something neutral or positive.
It’s the way we are. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can prime ourselves to be more attracted to positives. That starts with what we feed our minds.
Cutting Out News
I completely stopped watching all mainstream news programmes. I stopped watching Question Time, as it’s just rammed full of whinging and moaning for the full hour – as you’d expect of a show which is a platform for people to vent their frustrations around politics!
I have to work hard to stop myself clicking on Bing or Microsoft or Twitter or Facebook headlines because otherwise, I get dragged into all sorts of rabbit warrens stuffed with related eye-catching, click-bait negativity! But guess what? I get a hell of a lot more shit done during the day AND I don’t feel bad anymore. It was much easier for me to stop watching TV news, as I got fed up hearing about yet another mass shooting and then following the same wall-to-wall coverage all day. It was just too morbid.
I’m ashamed to say, it was almost too much like entertainment. I’d be tuning in regularly to find out what the latest developments were and then get engrossed in the inevitable debate around gun-control or racism or religion or immigration. It felt wrong.
Sure, I’m less informed than I was but then, I can always do a quick round up at the end of the week to see what that orange fool has been doing to destroy America and the world this last 7 days (I watch the satirical late night comedy shows, Colbert, Noah etc, so it actually makes me laugh as much as despair!).
We live in a messed up world. I won’t deny that. A nonsensical, grossly twisted human existence, full of needless violence and hatred. But it’s only part of the story. Most of us ARE good. Most of us want peace and love. The news makes it seem as though the minority are the majority. Fuck the news (especially FOX!).
I’ve learned that starting the day right is CRITICAL when it comes to our mental well-being. We must feed our mind with positivity from the moment we wake up because otherwise, we are priming ourselves for a bad day. Create your own personal news feed and focus on keeping it positive. You’ll find your life will become a much lighter, happier story.