Why I Went on a News Cleanse

Time for a good ol’ fashioned musing, friends!

I started a News Cleanse nearly a month ago, and guys, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Here’s my re-cap of starting said cleanse, how I felt only a week later, and why I went on it in the first place:

It’s Day 1 and already I’m not sure what to do with myself. I’m a very routine person; honestly, if a spy was trying to kill me, they’d have no problem finding out my predictable patterns and snuffing me out within two days. My mornings are spent catching up on all of the news: politics, world, economics, environmental, opinion pieces; I gobble them up with my coffee, eager to know more about the world. Except, lately, I’ve been feeling down. And, not just down like you do when Monday rolls around, like existential crisis type of down. Extreme, I know, but it sums up how I’ve felt lately. The news was chock-full of things that just screamed that the world is horrendous and humanity awful. I started feeling anxious 24/7 about things I could not control. About things that may or may not happen. About the over-population of the world. How can I control the world’s population? I can’t. But, I can control my own actions. 

I’ve always had anxieties in my life; it’s something I’ve had to deal with for a long time, and I’ve learned to deal with it. I’ve gotten pretty good at suppressing the illogical thoughts that I know don’t make any sense, but succumbing to those that have a niggle of truth. The environment is a huge factor in my anxieties and one of my passions. Yes, a huge conservative can love the environment, too, guys. We’re not all racist morons, I promise. Anyways, I love all most things environmentally friendly. So, reading about how the entire world is LITERALLY on fire was starting to take a toll on my mind not just from reading such devastating news every day, but because my anxieties couldn’t rule out any illogical thoughts anymore. I had just read about new bacteria and spores and all things horrific coming back; how football fields of trees are being logged or burned at an alarming rate. How could I tell my anxieties to shut up when they were yelling the truth?

So, I put a hiatus on the news reading. I’ll give a glance to the notifications that pop up from the Globe and Mail and the New York Times (oh, how the NYT loves to distill fear in everyone) because there’s no way I can go without knowing what’s going on at the very least in the world, but I will actually be able to enjoy my life. I’m aware of the consequences that humans are not taking responsibility for and I know what I can do to help. I do pretty good, I must say. You can read about some environmentally friendly life changes and goals I’ve made over the years here.

Not reading the news does NOT mean I’m going to stop educating myself on the world’s affairs. It just means that I will stop reading attention-grabbing headlines, and instead, delve into books and journals and my good ol’ Discover magazine. Everyone is always talking about a mindful movement with meditation and eating mindfully and shopping mindfully aka the minimalist movement. But, no one ever stops to think about the things our minds are consuming. Knowing the world affairs, knowing what’s wrong with it and what we can do to help is great. Hearing about the awful things that are happening in the world and feeling lost and helpless is not. Simply being upset and not educating yourself, and/or others, won’t make you feel better. It’ll make you feel worse. When we educate ourselves, we think about things from all sorts of angles. I felt my absolute brightest in University, not just because I was young and naive and believed I could be/do whatever, but because I was always thinking about how things are written or put together.

When you read a headline, read the actual article before spouting off about a viewpoint that doesn’t even match what’s written. When reading an article, think for a second and wonder if what the writer is saying is true, is somewhat truthful, or is just plain crazy. In University, you were told to Question Everything, but somewhere along getting a job, growing up, and having responsibilities we forgot to do just that. I read an article about meat becoming a thing of the past and the writer, a very qualified and smart person, stated facts and tables about farming. He; however, didn’t look at the full picture of farming, of the change in farming practices and how vastly different commercial farming is from small-scale farming. By simply taking what he had written at face value, I assumed every single farmer was a maniac who hated all living creatures and only lived to watch them suffer. That farmers were the only reason the world is on fire and the environment has fallen to pieces. The article, in itself, was really interesting, but just by taking that moment to wonder if what he was saying was true made me stop and think and do something I hadn’t really done in years – think critically. Reading is so important, and nowadays it’s strange to sit down with a book, a journal, or anything of substance when you can easily just google what you need to know. But, it’s important to keep educating ourselves, because the only way out of any mess is through learning more about the state that we are in.

It’s been half a week now and I’m in the middle of my thoughts and feelings. I still feel like education, proper education, is the best tool for success in life. I still believe that thinking critically can solve a lot of problems and stress. I haven’t missed gobbling up the news headlines every morning, afternoon, and evening. I still don’t feel as relaxed as I should be; that niggling feeling of doubt is still there, but it’s less so. I don’t feel like the world is weighing down on me, readying itself to explode. But, I also feel a little out of touch with everything. What’s happening in the world of politics? Did Trump do something stupid again (my bet is yes)? Have there been any more natural disasters that I wouldn’t have heard about by word of mouth yet? The answer to that one is probably yes. I do feel more informed, though. My thoughts on the world news and events feel less jumbled and sporadic; I feel like I can make more informed decisions. I’m going to keep this ‘cleanse’ of sorts going for nearly the whole month, letting myself pepper in a headline or two every so often, but not diving so far in that I lose myself again. I’ve also decided to extend this ‘cleanse’ to further than just the news headlines. I’ve been focusing too much on keeping up with everything, especially social media that I stopped knowing how to function. I only really use two social media pages now: Pinterest and Instagram. They’re my favourite and they do the job for me. And, I’m going to only stick with those, not extend my life into other platforms, because there’s no need. Find what you like, what goes with your life, and stick with it.

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