Everywhere we turn, there is news. It’s on our phones, it’s on TV, it’s on our Google Homes and Alexas, it’s on the radio and in podcasts. Unless you live a completely technology-free lifestyle, you are bound to see or hear a news story at some point in your day — more likely, dozens. While listening to a podcast recently, I learned that the amount of content created by humans from the beginning of time until 2003 is the same amount of content we now create every two days. Sadly enough, this statistic didn’t shock me, but there is no way this is healthy. We weren’t meant to consume so much news.
I don’t think it’s a secret that younger people — Millennials and Gen Zers, in particular — are America’s most stressed-out demographic. We’re anxious, we’re depressed, we’re overstimulated and overwhelmed. We have more conveniences than our great-grandparents could ever dream of — hello curbside pickup and Amazon Prime — but our privilege does not necessarily equal happiness.
I think we sometimes forget that we’re not the first generation to endure hard times. My great-grandparents parented through World War II and The Great Depression; my grandparents parented through the Vietnam War, civil rights protests, and assassinations; and my own parents parented through the September 11 terrorist attacks. Life was hard then, just as it is now, but the only difference was that, for them, it was not an all-consuming, never-ending, every-second-of-every-single-day news cycle. We weren’t meant to consume so much news.
My great-grandparents, who lived in Michigan, never had to know that Betsy from Florida was outraged by something and threw a fit at her local town meeting. Unless the story made a national headline in the newspaper days later, how would they know? My grandparents never had to know that a stranger in a neighboring city was struggling with a rare and incurable disease. Unless the story made it to the radio, how would they know? My parents never had to know if a school district three cities over was debating appropriate books to use in the classroom. Unless the story made the nightly news, how would they know?
While I think the constant news cycle keeps us educated and compassionate and sympathetic, I also think our bodies, minds, and souls can only take so much before we break. It is debilitating. We weren’t meant to consume so much news.
In a magical world, we would turn off the technology and focus on what’s right in front of us. We’d only know when bad things happen if they happen to the people closest to us. We’d only know when it’s time to be a helper when something happens in our own community. We would turn off the noise and focus on our own families rather than trying to help everyone, everywhere, with everything.
That is not our reality, though, so I suppose we have to learn better coping mechanisms in a world with so much news.