Staying informed means fighting news fatigue

Staying+informed+means+fighting+news+fatigue

Mary McDonough

It seems that in the current age, everything we hear, read or watch is somehow political, especially given the recent bombardment due to midterm elections. It can be emotionally and mentally exhausting trying to keep up with the news cycle that seems to have no end in our age of technology. This condition is now commonly referred to as news fatigue.

Most people that I’ve spoken with push away news entirely, indicating information overload as the problem. However, as tempting as it is to just shut all of the news off and go about the rest of your life, letting other people worry about the world, it’s important to retain at least one source of news for information. While I do believe it’s important not to be overloaded, I’m also a firm believer in staying informed so you can have your say in issues that are important to you.

The last time that I unplugged from the news, it ended up having a much greater personal impact than I expected. With the frenzy of news and political hysteria, I cut off all my contact with news both national and local, deleting five different news apps off of my phone. All I had left was AP News, mainly due to the classes I was taking that had news quizzes. So, with the exception of a daily scroll through AP News over lunch, I put myself in the dark. I focused on trying to catch up on piles of work, while resisting the urge to check updates on breaking news.

Meanwhile, people in my hometown were campaigning for a very important school millage that had potential to improve building security and provide new equipment that our music department desperately needed. My mother has been an elementary
music teacher for nearly 40 years, and I witnessed firsthand how hard she and so many others worked to provide for student needs whenever possible. There was one chance I had to really improve so many things for the town that had given me so much, but I had absolutely no idea.

By the time I felt prepared to reintroduce myself to the stream of news, it was too late for me to file an absentee ballot. There was no way for me to help. Anxiously, I awaited the results, feeling wracked with guilt that I had let my family down for not
being more vigilant. The millage
didn’t pass.

For weeks, all I could think about was my failure of responsibility and the fact that I put no effort toward the solution that our schools needed so badly. On top of that, I feared the phone call I would get from my parents
asking if I had remembered to cast my absentee ballot.

Simply saying “Sorry, I forgot” was not going to cut it.

Learn from my experience. You’d be surprised by the things you miss when tuning out the news completely. Just like trying
to go cold turkey with anything else, there can be more consequences than benefits. If you’re experiencing news fatigue, there are a few things you can do to avoid cutting out the news entirely, while maintaining your sanity.

Pick a specific time of day to sit down and catch up; that way it doesn’t follow you all throughout the day and add to your stress level. Additionally, turn the notifications off. Without the constant sounds and vibrations begging for your attention, it will help feel less overwhelming. It’s also helpful to find some way to spend your downtime that doesn’t involve your laptop or phone in your hand. We’re all creatures of habit, and it’s all too tempting to spend time looking through all the news when it is right there. Find your comfortable balance while still maintaining your voice.

Being involved in your country’s or community’s change doesn’t have to be draining. While ignorance may seem bliss, I assure you the consequences will not be.