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  • Writer's pictureGina DeGirolamo

News & Social Media: Is it a choice?

Over the last 3 years I have been really good at keeping myself clean of the intake of negative news media, which is actually a redundant term because I don’t know of any news media channel that is not focused on negative news. Yet, after the recent election I feel I should keep myself more “informed” on what is happening in politics and where we are headed as a country. This has been a very tough duty I have assigned myself because there is so much negative energy, so much fear, and so much hate being thrown around. I am not going to tell you who or what group I lean towards, or preach to you which one you should either. I’m just going to tell you about how all of this has affected my state of well being.

I don’t watch news networks because they are WAY to biased in my opinion. The first thing that I have noticed is that the more I pay attention to the news, and it is still very limited in the actual time spent reading a story or listening to a radio broadcast, I realize that I am thinking about it more often during the day, and find myself craving wanting to know more. It’s like eating sugar. As soon as you take a bite of chocolate or eat a cookie, you set yourself up for craving more and then consuming more which in turn is bad for your health. Because I am thinking about this negative news and all the things my friends say about it on social media, and the comments of vitriol that eventually appear, I am distracted from my work, my joys, and what really matters to me. Then I start to feel bad about myself because I am not doing what I love, what I need to do to earn a living, and contribute to my household. I get depressed. I actually get a little pain in my stomach like I have been punched. All this from a 3 minute news story and a quick run through of my Facebook feed. I could, of course, just block my friends that think differently and put my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalalaala” but that begins the process of building a wall up around my heart and my mind. So what is one to do? Honestly, I haven’t figured it out just yet, but I am seeking out the task as one would who is working on quitting smoking, drinking, eating bad foods…you know - all the addictions. There are real behavioral addictions called social media Addiction and television addiction that people are being treated for now. Now, I know I do not have a television addiction issue because I only watch TV around 8 hours a week, and I mindfully choose what I watch because I have to. I do not have cable or satellite. I have internet only so I am mostly watching movies. I do however spend more time on my computer, and I have my mobile device with me most of the day, which makes the social media addiction much harder to fight.

Ok, so back to yesterday. My wife and I were running errands and I was tuned into the news for the Presidents annual news conference. As the journalists were getting ready for it to start they were doing their sideline speculations on what would be said, what the newspapers had been reporting, and setting that tone of drama they like to build on so you will stay tuned in. Once the President took to the podium, the drama factor dipped, and he just reported some facts and I felt more calm. Then, I was sitting in the doctors office waiting for my wife to finish her appointment, and I was cruising through my Facebook feed because I had this feeling of urgency that I needed to find more information. More hidden drama. I stumbled onto a post about the current news and saw some really nasty comments. This really upset me. So I just turned the phone off, came home and took a nap. Once I awoke, I realized how I let the news media and social media hijack my day. I didn’t turn my phone back on when I got up and I didn’t turn my computer on. I put on some soft jazz, lit a fire, pulled out my coloring books and colored pencils. I colored for about an hour or so then picked up a book I’m reading, by Dr. Christiane Northrup, entitled Goddesses Never Age. I was nurturing my mind and spirit instead of depleting it. By the end of the night I began to feel better.

This makes me think even more about the fact that healing facilities think it’s ok to have televisions in waiting rooms with a 24 hour news station spewing negativity around people who are sick. Why is this ok? What is the disconnect here? I think it is mostly lack of awareness around the issue. I would love to do a study on measuring people's blood pressure and heart rate while sitting in a waiting room. There would be one room with the news media on the televisions and news magazines scattered about. In the other room, I would have healing music and nature videos playing, maybe even coloring books for adults. I would bet that the study would prove my concept, which is, that by eliminating the news media, there would be a positive outcome for those who are no longer exposed to it. I also believe that the patient experience would be much improved, and the caregiver experience much enhanced.

Would you be willing to participate in something that is better for your health? Better for your emotional state? Better for your spirit? The next time you are in a public space and the news media is on the big screen, could you keep yourself away from it? Could you keep yourself away from your mobile device and social media? The first step in recovery from any addiction is acknowledging there is a problem. So, I acknowledge there is a problem. I am willing to release myself from the addictive nature of negative news media, social media, and anything that distracts me from what is most important to me which is raising awareness around this issue and helping to improve the patient experience for all. Oh, and if you follow me on Facebook, I may be missing for a a while.

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