Headline after headline, we consume the news more than we think. We might mindlessly be searching Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Snapchat in hopes of catching a break between classes. Then we see…
“BREAKING: Trump signs new executive order”
is plastered across your phone screen. You read the title, become enticed, click the link and start reading. You’re trying hard to stay on top of things and relevant in the news, but are you consuming too much?
I’ve found myself trying to be as knowledgeable as I can when it comes to politics because I want to be able to defend my beliefs or have a constructive conversation with people that differ from me. Except lately, when I try to read the news I literally can’t even. And not in the pop culture way, but the like seriously I am reading so much news that I can’t even obtain a sentence-worth of information for the life of me kind of way.
At the beginning of Trump’s presidency, I clicked on all the articles (like, alllllllll the articles) I possibly could. I would read the first couple of paragraphs and skim through the rest, making note of the dramatic pull quotes and ending statements. A day or two went by and I was becoming overwhelmed with all of the “BREAKING” headlines in my news feeds.
I would try to read more articles but found myself spacing out after the first couple of sentences. I’d pat myself on the back for trying, close the article, and move on. All that I retained was the dramatic headline. A new executive order, a ban, he said this, she did that. I knew what was going on, but not in detail. I was becoming overwhelmed and quickly.
What else was I supposed to do? I’m a journalism student, reading the news is practically my homework. Even if I weren’t a journalism student, I feel like it’s my civic duty to be educated on global and national issues.
But I couldn’t. In a communication theory class, my professor explained how too much news consumption can be detrimental. My peers started speaking up about the fact that they feel like they can’t remember anything they’re taking in, and finally, I felt relief.
What!? You guys feel the same way?! I thought I was seriously losing my mind.
So I did it. I took a break from the news.
I’d check Facebook, Twitter, Insta, you name it – but I wouldn’t click the headlines. I’d read them, sure. I know the general consensus of what’s going on. Betsy DeVos is nominated Secretary of Education. The refugee ban was lifted by a Washington judge. I’m in the loop! But I’m not stressed, I’m not beating myself down for not knowing every single detail of every single executive order. I’m applauding myself for finally being able to take a breather since I really started caring about the 2016 election. For months, I was taking in as much as I could.
I took the opportunity to take a break from the news as a moment to remind myself of what I believe in and what I think is important. I don’t have to know all of the details to know what is right and what is wrong in my opinion. Instead of letting the world and the news get me down, I am going to make a difference. I am going to volunteer, I am going to talk to people, I am going to be understanding and I am going to hone in on a topic or two that I think are particularly interesting. This way, I can be a source of knowledge to my peers and really know specifics about things that I’m passionate about! Like women’s rights, human rights, education, health care funding… just to name a few.
When you try to do too much or consume too much, you get too full too quickly. Take Thanksgiving dinner as an example. I loaded up on too many appetizers before the main course and I found myself bursting at the seams before the most important part of the meal. Thankfully, it’s over and I’m getting back on track. I will continue to fill up on news and educate myself, but on issues that I want to focus on.
It’s OK to take a break from the news. Trust me, you don’t want to burn yourself out.