Are You Volunteering to Learn About Other People’s Problems? Watch your news consumption
What if everyone you encountered today stopped to tell you all their problems? Everyone at work. Everyone in the store. Everyone at the gas station. On top of that, everyone you knew was calling or texting you with their problems. And you listened.
You would be so informed. You would have so much awareness of everyone’s struggles. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Or would it?
How would it make you feel if you knew everyone’s stresses and frustrations? What would you do with that information? Maybe there would be times you could help them. And maybe there would be many situations where the only thing you could do was listen.
Many of us volunteer to learn about lots of people’s problems, and most of their problems are totally out of our control. What if it’s affecting our health? Our happiness? Our quality of life?
I bet you’ve figured out that I’m talking about our overconsumption of news. Now more than ever, we’re inundated with bad news whether it’s from news channels like CNN, ABC, Fox, etc. Or from social media, or news feeds on our devices, or news subscriptions delivered via email, or our “quick” visits to news websites.
A few generations ago, the news we heard was about our neighbors and community; We learned about their problems, and we often could help. We learned about dangers in our community that might affect us.
Then it became easier to hear about people’s problems farther away, even from other parts of the world. It helped us understand other people in other lands and their challenges. And there were times we could help. For example, when there were hurricanes or earthquakes, we could donate our money or time. When there were injustices, we could advocate for action to our government officials. And the list goes on.
But today, many of us immerse ourselves in news channels that constantly bombard us with other people’s problems and the only thing we can do is listen. And feel bad. And we start to think the world is a terrible place. After all, all we hear about are the problems. Where is the good? The media knows that our brains are hard-wired to pay much more attention to the bad news.
So consider your news intake. Could you cut back? Should you cut back? How is it affecting your quality of life?