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Maybe it is time for a media diet
Time to turn off the news
By Douglas E. Welch
Listen: Time to turn off the news[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2009/career-op-20090116.mp3]
While this might sound odd from a self-professed news junky like myself, there comes a time, like the present, when the best course of action is to ignore the daily news and focus on what is important to you. Yes, we should all seek to be informed, but lately the mainstream news sources have begun focusing on what “may” happen instead of reporting on what “is” happening. This can lead us all down the road into depression, if we allow it. My recommendation when this begins to happen is to seek to be aware of the world, but don’t wallow in the bad news.
You would have to be living in a cave to not be aware of the problems facing us today. The economy is our main trouble but other problems exist as well. Picking up the paper today, or turning on the television news, is an exercise in doom and gloom. It is important that we have an understanding of our troubles, but it is also important to be able to see beyond those troubles.
As I mention above, there is a great difference between being aware and wallowing. Being aware means taking action — adjust our budgets, reduce our debts, look for alternative work, if needed. We might even investigate a little freelance work as a hedge against layoffs. This is what we should be doing. Instead I am witnessing more and more conversations where we bemoan our fate and wallow in the unfairness of it all. We see deeper and darker trouble just over the rise or just around the corner. We postpone action, paralyzed with fear and indecision, wondering what next ax will fall in our careers and our lives. Even worse, this is easy to do as the media and those around us continue to feed our fear.
Being that I am somewhat inclined towards a pessimistic look at life, there are times when I have to put myself on a media diet or risk “falling down the rabbit hole” of doom and gloom reporting. Sure, I will still open the paper or turn on a cable news channel, but I have my limits. When a particular story moves from the reporting of facts – who, what, why, when, where and how – to analysis, I frequently turn the channel or move to the next story. Analysis of complex stories is important, but most of what passes for analysis these days leans towards complete supposition. It seems that a lot of people are simply guessing at what might happen and either lack the supporting evidence or simply can’t fit it in to the typical new show format. I don’t want to build my worries on supposition. I want hard facts to help me make decisions, plan and come out the other side of this downturn better and stronger.
Which leads to another pressure we are all feeling today. Read enough press coverage, talk to enough friends, and you might start to believe that we will never recover from this economic downturn. Some people seem to think that this is the last great descent into poverty, mayhem and dissolution. I don’t. We have suffered many setbacks in our relatively short history as a country and I am not yet ready to give up the fight or belief that we will survive this one as well.
I am not quite sure what people are accomplishing with their dismal view of the future, except perhaps to absolve themselves of their own lack of achievements. They can’t possibly be blamed for their own failures if the entire country is failing. They can blame it all on someone or something else. Too often we all fail to take responsibility for our own actions when there is something larger and more convenient to blame it on. Look at all the companies that are blaming the economic downturn for their failures. Sure, some might have been caught in unexpected economic traps, but many others were simply suffering from their own failed policies long before this current trouble. The economy becomes a convenient excuse for everyone, instead of a valid excuse for a few.
Whenever you feel yourself slipping into depression about the current state of affairs, ask yourself some difficult questions. Are you reacting to what is happening or what might happen? Are you overreacting to news that doesn’t affect you directly? Are you letting the mass media bludgeon you into fear and depression with their constant guessing what might happen next? I have faith in you and I have faith in myself that while there might be some trying times ahead we are at a transition, not an ending. We have postponed great changes that have been needed for decades and we are finally being forced to address those changes. Once that is done, things will get better.
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