Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Can you guess how many mass shootings the Gun Violence Archive recorded in the United States in 2019 alone? 418. Do you know how many of those ended with at least someone getting seriously hurt or killed? All of them.
Mass shootings aren’t the only news we have trouble swallowing. Can you guess how many people are starving to death right now? Can you imagine how many millions of tons of garbage are thrown into the ocean each year? And can you even comprehend the idea that systematic racism, and so many other forms of oppression, still exist and diminish the quality of life for minorities around the world?
If you’re a news junkie like me, you find out very quickly just how exhausting and disheartening these facts can be. Building up from just about any news channel you click on, these stories and statistics can weigh your day to day life down significantly.
A study at the University of Maryland found, from a 45,000 person study, that people who define themselves as happy, typically watched about 30% less TV than their unhappy counterparts. At first this statistic can seem expected. Who hasn’t been told that they are spending too much time on the television and need to go outside? Regardless, I find this interesting because of how little it took to make such a significant difference. Imagine being told that you had to brush your teeth for two minutes and thirty seconds to be happy in life, instead of the usual two minutes. Who wouldn’t do that? I sure would.
So what are we to do with this idea? Does this mean the only way to read the news is on paperback? Or does it mean we just need to cut the news out of our lives forever? Personally, I don’t believe that should ever be a legitimate solution.
We need the news, or at least something with the same idea. It has its biases and hardships, but a world without the general public knowing the truth would be a dystopia. Elections would continue to be skewed, people’s stories and voices would not be heard, and our society would be atomized into a force of tradition, instead of a force of change.
I challenge you to not give up on the news. It can be hard sometimes, but it can also be quite easy at other times. Occasionally, it may even be uplifting. What I didn’t mention about the hyperlinks I provided is that with every issue they address, there is also a solution. Each one of those stories and statistics is provided with a way to fix the problem at hand. And I believe the ability to empower oneself is the real reason the news is worth its hardship.
Did you know there is a non-profit search engine, called Ecosia, that plants trees throughout the world with each year’s profits? Or how about Australia on the verge of eliminating a rare form of cancer that exists today? And how about the fact that 1.2 billion people have gained electricity in the last sixteen years? Also, there are plenty of great pages to follow on Facebook for positive news like Hooplaha, Upworthy, and the Good News Network.
News doesn’t always have to be bad and full of despair. Trust me, I know it can seem that way, and that’s only natural. It probably just means that you care. But caring should rarely lead to giving up. Take breaks if you want, but I find the empowerment these stories bring to be something I couldn’t live without. And I hope you feel the same.
For ways to cope with today’s influx of negative headlines, check out the following article by NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-headline-stress-disorder-do-you-have-it-ncna830141
Image credit: educateinspirechange.org