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Weight of the World

I recently read an article about the effect that world news has on us, namely how the daily stream of devastation contributes to personal anxiety helplessness. This could not be more relevant in terms of all that’s happened thus far in 2014. From the ISIS to Eloba to Ferguson to the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Air Strikes, chemical weapons, racial violence, epidemics – these events serve as a constant reminder of the fragility of peace and the ambiguity of humanity.

It seems the political revolution of our century is anarchy, whether or not it has been intended as so. In the 18th century, it was American-style Democracy and the 19th/20th century was all about the tug-o-war of Communism. What do we have to show for the first 14 years of this century? Internal conflict, external intervention: a blur of political ideologies that has amounted to chaos and anarchy.

It got me thinking about what is more dangerous: shielding ourselves from being informed about the state of the world or a constant exposure to this negativity. I think the answer is pretty clear. A lack of awareness can often lead to ignorance, which then translates to a host of other social maladies.

But what if this exposure carries with itself a weight that is, in itself, disparaging? This is undoubtedly the case for those who are less capable of emotional detachment and are more sensitive ‘the harsh reality’ of life. Psychology Today has shown that reading negative news is likely to “make you sadder and more anxious” and “exacerbate your personal worries and anxieties”.

What is the solution here? I’m not sure. The article proposed what is called ‘solution journalism’. Yes, it gives the reader a bit of hope at the end, reminding them that the violence, disease, and hatred can and will end. But I think that facing this negativity, while not allowing them to thwart a positive perspective on life, has to come from each individual and not the journalist.

Rationalising a solution from my own understanding of the world provides negative news with a positive perspective that makes sense for me. It’s the best way for me deal with the saddening reality while avoiding complacency. 

What do you guys think? How much does world news affect you?