A Barrier From Bad News


There was news on Friday that sent us reeling. It was sad and I felt hopeless and helpless. After a conversation with my younger sister, who is often wiser than anyone I know, she said this, “I don’t want to talk about it.” She wasn’t ignoring the disaster, but she said that our conversation and commentary weren’t going to bring back those lives. We weren’t going to be able to solve that one. After much thought, I agreed. Some will seek policy solutions, others in the local community will offer help to the victims’ families. I feel shaken, but not a deep grief. Perhaps, I am numbed by the numerous similar headlines throughout this year. Then a friend posted on Facebook that there was a horrific knife incident in a school in China killing many. Why did one tragedy deserve headlines and the other didn’t?

I only know that in times like these and in tragedies that directly touch my life I seek comfort and context. How do you seek comfort? What brings you peace? How do you react to bad news?

I have some friends who, with all the bad news, ignore the headlines and don’t read the paper and don’t listen to the radio or TV. I can’t quite insulate myself that much. However, I don’t have TV service in my home. I have a TV which serves only to play DVDs in my collection: old movies, occasional exercise videos, cooking shows, and familiar TV shows I see again and again like Friends, Friday Night Lights, and The West Wing.

I have found that not having TV has greatly reduced my absorbed stress. It has created the much-needed buffer around bad news. I am a natural worrier and at times have wondered how to deal with bad news I can’t control. I haven’t been exposed to 24-hour channels that don’t report news, but instead show repeats of half-truths and endless commentary and speculation.

I do stay informed. I listen to the radio to incredible news sources, I subscribe to the paper, and I read news reports from several news sources online. In my world, though, I have to make an appointment with the news. I seek to be informed, but I seek a barrier so I don’t feel so stilted and depressed. I seek for the news to be a tool in my life, not a distraction from my life.

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