There’s so much going on in the news – the downing of an airline in the Ukraine, Israel going into ground-invasion mode on the terrorists in Gaza, and the border issues to the south of me along the Texas/Mexico border. I have my opinions on each of these pieces in the news, but that’s not why I am writing this. No, this is about something a little different. See, there’s more in the news than just this. There’s more localized news about shootings and robberies – there’s other news about police in Florida being fingered as members of the Ku Klux Klan. There’s news about companies laying off employees for this or that reason. And there’s always the under-belly of the internet’s rumor mill, where people cannot give up their favorite conspiracy theory. The President’s birth wasn’t in the United States. He’s trying to turn America into a Socialist country. This politician is doing this wrong thing. Etcetera, etcetera. And all of these stories have a common theme – they’re all negative in nature.
Seriously. You listen to the people who report these stories, read the stories in print and on the internet, listen to the digital denizens fight and argue amongst themselves over this or that point – its nearly to the point of shouting at the walls of your house: “ENOUGH ALREADY!” And to be perfectly serious – it is enough.
For the last three years, I have spent a large amount of time and energy trying to locate a news agency that just reports the news. My result? A lot of wasted time and energy. Every single news agency I came across not only spins the news they “report” in a manner that reflects their desired political perspective – they all lead with sensationalized news headlines. It seems that the old adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” is a time-honored and very true axiom of our news coverage. Since I could not find any news agency that did not spin and twist the news like a tired balloon animal – I finally locked down to the idea of limiting the amount of time I spend watching and reading the news. One of the prime catalysts for me was the story of the missing Malaysian Airlines jet. The coverage started to cycle on a 24/7 coverage of speculation, drama-filled coverage of grieving family and friends of the people on-board…and I had my fill. Every third or fourth day, I would click on a story on the coverage – just to be caught up on what had happened to that point. With the rest of the news, I spend less than thirty minutes of my day reading the news now – and have become very selective on what I will read during that time.
For me, the same held true for conversations, and the endless debates on this or that aspect. I do read and participate in debates and discussions on the internet, but when the tone becomes contentious or the points being made become circular – I bow out. The result is that I have found participating even less in many “conversations” I would normally have stepped into with both feet. And when I do make a statement, I think carefully over what I am about to submit, and look at whether I am adding anything to the conversation other than a “me too!”. A few friends have noticed this, and asked what was up – when I made note of this particular approach, I noticed that they started to do the same thing. Oh, I still participate in the fun-filled joking that I have always been a part of – its a part of my personality, and frankly if it brings a smile to the other person’s face – it certainly accomplished that momentary mission.
I am certainly not advocating everyone to start looking for ways to remove the negative influence in their lives so that they can start farting rainbows with every step. There’s always going to be bad moments, bad days, and bad news. Nothing is ever going to change that, but I can limit how much of all that stuff I let filter into my daily interactions with people. Or to quote from Styx:
Keeping my mind on a better life
Where happiness is only a heartbeat away
Paradise, can it be all I heard it was
I close my eyes and maybe I’m already there