Way #18: Take a Tip from Elsa
Take a break from the news: online, TV, radio, podcasts, social media—actually interrupt your media consumption pattern. For a day, for a week, or for the rest of the month, whatever you’re brave enough to try. Take a break, letting it go, for a specific amount of time.
Um, Elsa, from Frozen, has some advice for you!
Maybe you feel balanced and healthy, and your interaction with the news leaves you feeling great: fantastic! Take a day of rest and we’ll see you tomorrow. But if it feels unbalanced or leaves you feeling drained, this is an opportunity to think carefully about how you might shift your relationship to the news media so you can both stay informed and increase your wellbeing.
How do you feel when you’re not tuned in? Are you anxious about missing something? Where does your attention and energy go? Notice what comes up for you.
Why Do This Way?
Many people engage with news to know what’s going on in the world, to be informed in conversation, or out of a sense of civic duty. But does it really serve those purposes?
The stories we receive are chosen by a small number of media conglomerates and are often negative or heartbreaking, specifically selected to evoke emotional responses. News is sensationalized to make us feel the drama of what’s happening to make it all feel incredibly urgent, alarming, and addictive. Being continually bombarded by these stories can leave one with a sense of hopelessness, despair, and overwhelm—at the very least fatigue—which can lead to apathy.
There’s a reason following the news can feel so draining! And it’s a cycle, so you find yourself on a hamster-wheel of headlines, imagery, and sound-bites that can tax your brain and your being.
If this rings true for you, now would be a good time to break the cycle so that you can create your relationship to the world rather than react to the story that is being foisted upon you. Taking a break can give you the distance you need to ask yourself: “What do I want to pay attention to? What information flow, and which information sources are actually helpful to me as a concerned citizen?” By getting out of the reaction cycle you give yourself space to make that choice.
Engaging with This Way
There are plenty of ways to get information about the world beyond Facebook, CNN, and Fox News. There’s a whole world of other news sources that might provide you different perspectives when you pick up your media habit again. Here’s a list compiled for Pachamama Alliance’s Game Changer Intensive. Please share any other favorite alternative news sources you recommend in the comments below.
And remember, there are plenty of ways to get information about the world. Magazines, reading books, talking with a friend or an interesting stranger. Don’t limit yourself!
Here’s an article that suggests we should think of our media diet the way we do our food diet, starting with this Media Pyramid.
What comes up for you around news media? How long will you take on a media "fast"? What sources of media nurture you?