How do I kind of watch the news but not really?

Lately, I have had the news on during some of my work time. I like the background noise. But lately, I have been absorbing some of the junk that the reporters are dishing and I am finding it hard to take.

What I am challenged with is straddling the line between being a) a healthy, productive, uninformed human and b) knowing what is going on but having the worst kind of negative monkey brain ever. Yesterday, my dad had to talk me off the ledge (OK, there was no ledge but everything going on had my brain focused on the negative stuff and it started to come out of my mouth). I felt it coming on and it was like having someone sit on your chest. I don't like it. Perspective almost seems impossible. On the news, it was all bad, bad, bad.

I can go for a good long time without looking at my 401(k). I know that there's no reason to panic and that I don't need to retire any time soon and that riding it out is the best thing to do. I also know that I can tell myself all that, but if I look at the number, my mind will grab it and have it's way with it. It will play the "what if" game. And that just sucks. I'm too much of a obsessive planner. I like to be proactive and fix things. There's no fixing I can do right now.

But when it comes to the news, you kind of need to know what's going on. I want to hear anything about the change in the presidency/political landscape (a la Blagojevich stepping down. Please?). I want to know when we are coming out of the recession. I want the good news. And I want to know if there's anything I need to *do*. A weather report every now and then would be nice too. I just don't want to hear all the doom and gloom stuff. In the words of the most annoying member of the Tanner "family":

As part of my job, I have to monitor what is going on at other companies: who is closing their doors, who is laying off, etcetera (which is not that hard of a word to spell out, people). I'm accustomed to that (even though it's hard to think about the impact on people). But I just don't want to take another moment of the rest of the "news". I think we are all making it worse,on ourselves by tuning in. And because we are tuning in, the networks don't feel like they have to try too hard to bring us anything other than all this negative stuff (OK, that may be a little harsh, but how about taking into account our collective ability to tolerate all of it?).

I'm trying to come up with a plan to get what I need to stay informed but not torture myself with the negativity I don't need. Here's what I am thinking: no more TV during the day. Goodbye Today Show. Hello, music. One half hour of national TV News a night. And I can look the weather report up online if I need it. I'm sure there's some hole in my plan. But I think we all should be more thoughtful about how we are letting the news impact us on a personal level. And there's nothing wrong with me. There's something wrong with the people that can hear all this news and *not* let it affect their psyche.

Oh, and by the way, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart totally does not count as news in my scenario. And anything holiday related totally does 🙂

Comments (3)

  1. Amy Richman says:

    Totally agree with your plan Heather.  Couple the fabulous (sarcasm) economic landscape with an office full of red velvet ice cream cake and chocolate covered oreos a la holiday season vendor yumminses, it’s a recipe for disaster.  I plan to also lay low, and will continue to exude eternal optimism.  Smiles breed smiles…right?  Keep up the great blogging.  It’s a pleasure reading your posts.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Awww, thanks Amy.

    I probably should have added into the post that I am likely to kick the medication into high gear (um, mertaphorically speaking) and may even get back to the yoga. Your comments about the sweets made me think about that! Some days I am really glad I work from home! But I did have one disgusting work meeting full of snacks and the worst part is I am the one that brought them for everyone. It takes a while to get over that kind of indulgence.

  3. mszv says:


    I didn’t mean for this post to be long, but it is.  Feel free, Heather and everyone, to skip parts or jump around.

    On the news – it depends on what you listen to.  When I’m home I listen to my NPR station (national public radio) a lot – KQED.  It’s mostly talk radio, but interesting, and not inflammatory at all.  I respect their reporting. I find their discussion of the news rather comforting, even the scary stuff.  It’s the way they cover it – no histrionics, and a mix of personal stories and more general stuff.  I like their news reporting and their analysis, a lot.  

    I don’t know anything about the Seattle NPR stations, but many of the shows I listen to are nationally syndicated. Agreed – if it bothers you, you might want to pick certain TV or radio shows to watch/listen to, and then put something else on, or turn everything off.  

    I get much of my news about tech companies from the San Jose Mercury News, both the paper and also email newsletters from the Mercury News.  Tech is their thing, so, at least for my area, it’s reasonably comprehensive, even gossipy!

    I think it’s hard for, have to find a way to put this, “middle class” people, myself included (!),  because this is the first time that I can remember that the economy has been so bad, here and around the world.   I wasn’t around for the US depression.  We haven’t experienced that sort of thing before – at least I haven’t.   I have people I am close to who don’t have jobs now, regular middle class people with education and job skills.   Before, during the tech downturn, I knew people in tech who didn’t have jobs, but this is different, because it cuts across all areas.   Since I know people who are affected personally, I can’t think it’s OK.  I also think it’s harder for, have to find a way to put this – it’s hard for people who think that they completely control their own destiny.  I believe we have to be proactive in our life, of course, but it’s not all “us” – there’s a whole interconnected world that affects us.  I think I have to work for my success in life, but there is no way that I think that all my success, or correspondingly, all my failure is due to “me”.   Bad things happen because of the world, but good things happen because of the world too.  The upshot is that, sometimes, we help each other out, in society, either personally or through our institutions.  I find that comforting.  The people I am close to who are without jobs are getting unemployment (thankfully!), and I will help them out as much as I can.  That’s good, a lifesaver.  We spread the goodness around.

    For all the scariness, we have to find a way to get through our lives, without going crazy – one has to find happiness where one can.   And it’s not dire for everyone, particularly if you have a job.  I have a job (there was a time I didn’t), and you do too. The other thing you have going for you (aside from being smart, an interesting blogger, and good at your job!), is that you aren’t in a position where you are retired or only have a couple of years to retirement.   Speaking realistically, you have time – you can recover.

    I don’t know if it’s helpful for you, if you are close to people who have gone through very hard times (personally or economically), and come out OK at the end.   Sometimes I find that comforting, to remember how hard some family members and friends struggled, and how, for some of them, it worked out.  When I remember the stories of people I know who made it through to better times, it gives me hope, the whole thing about the second or third of fourth chances we get in life.  

    Gee – hope this post isn’t too much of a downer!  That’s just how I look at it.  



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