J: In my second semester of college, right about the time North Korea was threatening to hit the United States with nuclear missiles, I started getting anxiety from constantly reading the news even though I knew the likelihood of that happening was slim to none. Which doesn’t really work that well when your major is journalism. Lately, with the constant stream of news information, it’s back.
L: Obviously, North Korea didn’t attack the U.S. But I am right there with you. With the internet (and Twitter especially) it is easier than ever to stay on top of what’s happening, but it’s also a lot of work to keep up to date. There’s practically a new story every day — if not every hour. Checking the news and staying on top of what’s happening has become almost a second job for me. I can’t even stay away from Twitter for on Saturday to have one relaxing day off.
Checking the news and staying on top of what’s happening has become almost a second job for me. I can’t even stay away from Twitter for on Saturday to have one relaxing day off.
J: Knowing what’s happening is part of our job and you want to be informed about what’s happening in the world. But when there’s a constant stream of negative news, it causes a lot of anxiety. Eventually, you build up a mental stamina to deal with it, but it still affects your outlook on life and the world.
L: Everything seems to be political these days. In our increasingly polarized political system, reading about debates and conflicts between the parties day-in and day-out can get exhausting. I just want to be able to sit through one awards show without having to think about politics. But of course, all of the major celebrities who win will probably use their acceptance speech to make a comment on what’s going on. And that’s their right, but I just need a few hours away from it all sometimes. And it’s getting harder and harder to find that place of peace.
J: Turn off the T.V. and social media during specific times. I deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter app on my phone for a few months. It helped disconnect me. I added Twitter and Instagram back on but I turned off the notifications. Limiting notifications from websites helps too. Consuming so much media can disconnect you from your own life and an imbalance is created so that you can’t focus on the really good things that are happening in your life.
L: Great tips. I did delete my Twitter app from my phone for a few solid months, but I ended up feeling less informed when I was out and about so it’s back now. It’s really about striking a balance between being an informed citizen and having your own life. Another aspect I think a lot of people are struggling with is that, especially on Twitter, some people will guilt you for not knowing about something. It’s like they think you don’t care if you aren’t informed 24/7. People need a breather occasionally. Taking some time for yourself shouldn’t be criticized so heavily. You can still care about an issue even if you’re late to the party.
J: Making someone feeling guilty about not knowing about every news story is ridiculous. Being equally or even more informed about your friends, family and other people in your circle is as important as being informed about news. After all, those are the people you affect directly. Secondly, making people feel bad about personal beliefs and views on the internet is what adds to the negativity that seeps from the news. You can be right about something without being a pompous jerk.
making people feel bad about personal beliefs and views on the internet is what adds to the negativity that seeps from the news. You can be right about something without being a pompous jerk.
L: I completely and wholeheartedly agree with that. But the snide meanness pervades basically all of online discourse. I would rather have a more positive environment, especially with political discussion. We tend to focus way more on attacking the person who’s talking rather than paying attention to what they’re saying beyond their party affiliation. The clashes between liberals and conservatives is also probably playing into the anxiety a lot of people feel when they check the news.
J: The snide meanness seeps into pretty much any topic. People do get extra angry for not having an immediate “I completely agree with you” comment. Bad habits and traits do come out more on the internet. You would never talk like that to a person face-to-face. Which I think creates a bad cycle. People feel comfortable being rude or hateful online, then a outlier gets comfortable speaking or behaving that way in public to a stranger, an incident happens and more bad news happens. I mean the entire election cycle seemed like a volatile comment section.
L: That goes to show you how influential our online behavior is to real life. I sometimes wish everyone could take a step back and relax for a minute. Yes, politics matters and the news matters. But in the grand scheme of things, some of these contentious fights and debates aren’t going to change much. I would rather people saved their energy for the more important battles, rather than getting riled up over every little thing. That’s part of why I get a little stressed out with the constantly updating news cycle. It’s great that everyone can share their opinion and that definitely shouldn’t stop, but I just have to wonder how these people ever relax.