I gave myself the gift of digital detox and no TV news for Christmas. After one week, I feel better already.

Which begs the question, what am I doing with my head so far up the machine’s ass? Why are any of us willing victims to the manipulations of media? The obvious answer is we are human beings seeking information and connections via one of our many screens. The problem is we end up failing to enrich ourselves via this daily habit. We are degraded by an onslaught of bad news and Internet trolls. Consuming and sharing today’s crap news and toxic opinions mostly upsets and angers me. When I am angry I am no good to others, and only marginally good to myself. Anger is fuel, but fuel is explosive when left untreated.

We’ve left the information age behind. We are now in the disinformation age, and it ain’t pretty. Let’s use Tweets from Don as one example of the inane nature of today’s “news.” Why would I ever care what Don puts on Twitter? He uses the platform to bypass the press and to stoke his ego engine. There is no useful information in Don’s Tweet stream and no reason for anyone other than his sycophants to pay attention. Yet, what Don Tweets is fodder for the talking heads on TV. What a waste of airtime. If anyone does care about Don’s Tweets, they can simply visit his Twitter page.

As a member of the opposition, it is way too easy to obsess over political minutiae. Don does something wrong many times a day. Instead of reacting to all the slights and miscues, we can opt to skip past the daily distractions and focus on the big picture. The big picture means taking care of yourself, your family and friends, and your community first. Think of it like putting on your oxygen mask first, so you are able to assist others.

Media of all types seeks to evoke a reaction from its intended audience. To stay even and centered right now–a necessary state in order to help yourself and others–it is important to be aware of one’s media habits and behaviors. If you watch the news on TV and find yourself yelling at the screen, you have a common problem. If you find yourself inundated with trolls and haters, you have another all too common problem. Personally, I don’t want to give trolls an inch. I want to bash their puny little skulls together, but more violence isn’t going to help them learn anything new, and I will not be uplifted by the bashing.

We are being tested by an invisible teacher right now. Can we maintain grace and grow our compassion under intense pressure? I am confident we can, and that we can become stronger, better people in the process. One of the means to this important end is to clearly establish the proper media diet, moving forward. Each person has their own limits. One hour of TV news per night, for instance, is certainly better than three of four hours. Maybe your diet will include no TV news at all, and you will read (and subscribe to) only the best foreign and domestic press.

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  1. I love this! I usually only watch local news for weather if we are travelling somewhere and turn on CNN if there is something major happening. But, we only watch to get the major gist of what’s going on and then turn it off before we get sucked in to the talking heads speculation cycle. That’s it. We do like the Daily Show, John Oliver and Bill Maher, but since those are satire, and we don’t get our news from them, we are comfortable watching them. I’m much happier getting my news from actual newspapers. I’m glad you felt better after your week off!

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Media, Place, Politics