It’s okay to disengage

I’m sure there are those out there who will disagree, but for my own sanity and peace of soul, I’ve chosen to disengage from the news. Life bombards us enough throughout our daily lives with tiny hand grenades of flooded basements, ailing parents, lost pets, high-maintenance co-workers, health scares, and just being a parent, so add the daily barrage of news filled with sensationalism and gloom, and well…ugh.

On my way to work one morning, I discovered I was irritated and anxious and only blocks from my home. I couldn’t pinpoint when I’d lost my usual enjoyment of the car ride in the morning, winding between the nature trails and natural grasses, past the airport and onto the mad rush of Kellogg. The morning drive with my iPod always preps me for the day ahead, but that morning I was annoyed. Then, it dawned on me. The news. I’ve always been a news watcher, a daily habit handed down to me from my parents. Being in the know was an important way to start and end the day.

My parents are dedicated news watchers, these days mostly for the weather. Maybe it comes from being raised in Kansas, but they tuned into the local news stations three times a day to check the forecast. And, when the Weather Channel on cable was born, well, it took their weathering to a whole new level because now they could not only keep an eye on the local forecast, but see how my sister in Illinois or brother in Kansas City were going to fare for the day. Of course, they also loyally tune in for the news because there was a time when the local and national news was the only way you could catch up with the goings-on in the world. Well, that and the newspaper. Only recently have they cut back on their daily newspaper, receiving it only on the weekends. Every morning, The Eagle would be at the kitchen table to be perused before work or school, and in the evening The Beacon would be next to dad’s chair in the living room (yes, once upon a time we received a morning and evening paper!). Between the morning and evening paper, and the half-hour rounds of local and national news, you got what you needed to be in the know.

Not anymore. There is 24/7 news channels, not to mention the “news” we are flooded with on our social media platforms, and even our local news has extended its hours and even created sister stations to ensure we know every single thing that is going on in our community – from concerns about trash pickup to the latest possible shooting. Now, toss in all the rantings and Tweets from our current president, plus the play-by-boring-play Special Broadcasts, more of the rantings of current president, and even the late-night show comedic regurgitations of the news and it’s just too much. Really. Too much.

We don’t need all this news. That’s why tornado sirens and the Emergency Broadcasting System were created. Let me know when the giant asteroid is spiraling toward earth or we’ve been invaded, oh, and if there’s rain in the weekend forecast, but keep the rest of it. I don’t want it anymore. I’ve been sitting at the dinner table of news for too long, shoveling it all in and I’m full to bursting and feel like puking. I’m placing my hand over my engorged sanity, pushing away and saying no more. Done. I’ll take my news tapas over at the breakfast nook from now on – my choice of small bites. I’ll decide what I’m going to eat and when, and gladly throw the rest in the garbage, where much of it belongs.

I’ve blocked any news sources from social media, as well as those individuals who share nothing but supposed “news” on their timelines.  I don’t watch the local or national news, only CBS Sunday Morning. And, I go to bed before the late-night shows or choose to read in bed. As for the weather, I’ve downloaded two weather apps to my phone. It’s all I need.

And, to help heal my inner peace, I’ve discovered these wonderful videos on Netflix and Prime Video that are filled with images of sunsets, snow, nature and set to soothing music. These are how I start my day, and they have changed my attitude in the morning. When it’s my turn to cook dinner, no longer do I tune the tv in the kitchen to the news. Nope. Instead, I turn on music or search Netflix for Gilmore Girls, Frasier, or other old sitcoms that bring me joy.

I might be a bit out of the loop, and I admit feeling a bit of anxiety the first time someone asked me, “Did you hear about…?” Because, no I didn’t hear. I remember thinking, shit, what I am I going to say? But since then, I’m golden. Now, I get to decide if I want to hear. If the person is informing me of something I am interested in knowing, we can have a discussion, plus I can do a bit of research on my own. And, if it’s something I don’t want to hear, I’m honest and say, “you know, I missed that, but I’m really not interested.” Or, I change the subject.

True, picking and choosing my news is a bit difficult in my line of work. I have to keep my fingers on the pulse of healthcare in our great state, so while my diet of news is not completely foolproof it is working for me.  On those workdays I am engaged wholeheartedly in the news, I know I can always escape to those videos of city scapes set to soothing jazz.

And no, I’m not turning my back or giving up on advocacy. In my work, I do this daily as an advocate for healthcare in Kansas so spare me any “if you close your eyes, you are part of the problem” speeches or memes. Selective newsing is my version of donning noise cancelling headphones to drown out the shouts. My eyes are still open. You do what you got to do to keep your soul at ease and peace of mind intact. There’s a lot of work to be done and life to be lived, so we need to care of ourselves. Life can be a long haul.

(The shared video below is similar to what I watch every morning. Enjoy)

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