I had brekky with a good friend the other day, and of course our conversation moved to the current bushfire situation and the Australian Government’s response. She asked alot of questions and admitted she doesn’t pay much attention to the news (intentionally), but was feeling unsure as to whether she should after a friend of hers exclaimed she needs to be more aware of what’s going on.
As I mentioned in my last post, I watched the news for the first time just the other day and felt totally depressed about it. I am on Facebook though, and read articles and view videos there. I discussed this with my friend, and said I was having the same self-query but from the other end – am I absorbing too much? Is it necessary? Is it achieving anything? My mum often says how dire she feels it all is, how hopeless it seems, and although I don’t feel as pessimistic, when you’re saturated in negative media it can seem that way.
So is the answer to ditch it all completely? The benefit of that is feeling better about it all, and when we feel good we’re more likely to act in good ways and share that goodness around (I don’t know about you but when I’m feeling crappy I just want to curl in a ball and binge watch trash).
On the other hand, as Sarah Wilson so eloquently put here, the current situation is exacerbated by a numbing of the masses – a belief that our government is looking out for us, will do the right thing, and if they don’t they’ll be held accountable. It seems that hasn’t happened and has lead, partly, to the climate situation right now. Luckily, social media, at least, is alight with articles, videos and posts highlighting where our government (and we) have made wrong turns and educating us all about what needs to happen next. I’m not going to say this relates just to the current government either – obviously climate change has been occurring a long time. But by being aware, we’re holding those that stand in power accountable and they can no longer make dodgy deals behind our backs (like selling off water from drought-stricken areas).
The issue, of course, also lies in our ability to separate the wheat from the chaff when discriminating and critically analysing media. Truth be told, it took me a long time to even be aware of this, and I used to blindly accept everything I read as gospel. But we need to be aware that Rupert Murdoch, called the most powerful man in the world by some, owns and controls much of the media internationally. Is what we’re getting really the truth? Are we all sheep being lead to slaughter? Of course, he doesn’t own all the media and there are some fantastic, independent options like ABC or Al Jazeera but should we not be aware of the quality of what we’re reading or its origin we may really be absorbing toxic waste which sways our opinions to suit the powerful. In fact, I recently read that a lot of mis-information is being spread about the role arsons have played in all of this by Twitter bots and un-knowing people on social media, so much so the NSW Police had to put out a statement refuting it.
Clearly, there are pros and cons to both being completely immersed in current affairs and being completely ignorant of them, but for me the answer lies where it does with most things: somewhere in the middle. I like to know what’s going on – it helps to inform my voting preferences and as my next post about my environmental resolutions indicates, it spurs me to action. But I really don’t need to watch the news – an hour of the most alarming scenes imprinting into my mind is not how I like to start nor end my day. And I am currently aiming to give myself some space from Facebook- aiming for 15 minutes once a day of scrolling and reading then putting my phone down to do other things. (I hope once I have my little babe I’ll be off the socials completely – there are too many other things I love to do with my time, but that’s a whole other post!)
What’s important, I think, is that once armed with the knowledge we ask ourselves ‘what can I do about this?’ For me, there’s no point in knowing about something that makes me uncomfortable unless I can do something about it. (And before we all feel helpless and think ‘what can I do when I’m just me and the people in charge seem to do what they want?’ Let’s remember that Celeste Barber has now raised $50million in 8 days from her RFS fundraiser, and Greta Thunberg (who we must recall was not long ago just a teenager from a small, Scandinavian country and not a household name) mobilised 11 million people around the world to protest against climate change… so one person can indeed do alot). And even without celebrity, we can all do something useful – whether it’s donating the change from our daily coffee to WIRES, or switching to a keep-cup for our daily cuppa Joe, or catching the bus more often there are actions we can all take. But, if it’s a situation I really feel like I can’t do anything about, then I like to practice acceptance, feel my feelings, and do something else that feels good (a random act of kindness or even just a gratefulness practice can be all I need).
A bunch of angry, burned out people is not going to move us towards any resolution of the current crisis – burn-out often leads to a reduction in empathy, which we absolutely can’t afford right now – but let’s be aware of what we’re consuming (both physically and figuratively), how it’s affecting us, whether it’s useful and calling us to action or whether we just feel shitty, and make sure we’re allowing for balance and a break – if you’re feeling overwhelmed it might be time to have some space to do things that fill your cup, before exposing yourself again to the perils of the world.
What do you think? Is staying on top of current affairs important for you, or do you feel it’s all too much and you prefer to have some space? I’d love to know your thoughts x