How living through a news story changed my perspective
Have you seen the news lately? It’s just one tragedy after another! Even the events that are so far away seem to feel like they are in your neighborhood as images are streamed across countries. How does one deal with all this?
On April 19, 2013 I found myself in the middle of one of Boston’s most famous news stories. Four days after the famed bombings of the Boston Marathon, there was a shootout between police and the suspects and the final suspect was located and captured just a couple houses away from me in my neighborhood. It was terrifying and fascinating all at the same time.
I have never once been told to “shelter in place” before that morning. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know what that really meant! I did what anyone would do that morning – immediately went to my computer and Twitter account and turned the television to the local news to get better informed.
What happened in the hours that passed is what changed me forever; better informed is not what I became.
It was fascinating to me to be watching the news on television and the various news sources on the computer and hear what my son in North Carolina was receiving. Each news source (including friends on Facebook) was so concerned about breaking news first that information was coming out that shouldn’t have been disclosed (we still didn’t know how big or small this situation was) and so much speculation and misinformation was being retweeted and forwarded unverified at an alarming speed.
In the hours that followed, the “shelter in place” order was lifted and as many already know, my neighbor stepped outside to discover his boat cover had become undone so he went to explore and fix it. As I stepped out of the house with my daughter to walk the dog my neighborhood became overrun with every possible law enforcement agency I have ever heard of and we were ordered back inside immediately. In a very short period of time any and all news sources were ordered out to a perimeter two blocks from the scene (I was closer than they were).
During that time I was glued to my window with the news squawking in the background with such gross misinformation it was amazing! They were “live on the scene” which meant they were in Watertown (no one was allowed to drive on the streets). Reports of what was going on outside my window were pure speculation and assumptions that lacked real facts or accurate details – I know because I was there and they weren’t!
What happened that day forever changed me, no doubt, but one unexpected change was my critical questioning of the news stories I allowed into my home each night before bed. I no longer watch the news because to me, breaking news means “we’re still gathering facts, but we’ll spew out anything we can find to be first in case some of it is accurate we might win an award.” I also found that the news crews want to highlight such terrible, tragic things and rarely stay to watch my neighbors bringing coffee and muffins to the police that stayed in our neighborhood for two weeks following the event for crime scene processing and crowd control.
I am not advocating being ignorant of the events that are going on in our lives and the lives of others. What I am advocating is that we critically consume this information, questioning the sources and facts and not assuming the news report tells the entire story. I read several newspapers and follow several news sources so I do stay informed, but I wait until the story has had time to be fact-checked as best they can and I read several accounts to try to get a full picture of an event, then I still understand there is much I don’t and won’t know.
I no longer allow the tragic pictures being flashed across the television screen to be the last images I receive before going to bed at night. I find that I am no less informed, a bit less judgmental about an event and better rested because of this practice. I definitely find a much reduced stress level by not listening or reading about every tragedy that happens. I am aware and read about events, however, I am not subject to the images repeatedly being shown nor do I read about an event for days on end until a worse or new tragedy occurs.
A News Diet
I encourage you to try a news diet. Turn off the images and the nightly news and keep informed through reading notable news sources. I assure you the horrible things will be no less horrible if you don’t see the people bloody and crying and you will be no worse off for that. Stay informed and act where you can and if you wake up a little less sad, spread some of that around – we need more good juju in the world!
Elizabeth Miner is a life-long student experienced in taking the road less traveled. She has developed a unique and practical coaching practice based on studying the greats in personal development and combining that knowledge with lessons learned throughout her life.
While quick to tell you she does not have all the answers, she has created a business around her passion for sharing experiences and knowledge which brought her from poverty to running her own business and living life to its fullest. Elizabeth founded Thrive This Day to help individuals working through life transitions through coaching, mentoring and community.
Connect with Elizabeth… www.ThriveThisDay.com