What Did Two Decades of NOT Watching the News Teach Me?
Updated: Jan 3
The 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks of 2001 are just around the corner as I’m writing this. Thinking back, this was the catalyst for my husband and I to turn off the news. After weeks of the same things playing over and over 24/7 on the news channels, it was just too much to take.
For most people it would be. For HSP’s (highly sensitive people) like us, it was draining, both physically and emotionally and had a tangible effect on our psyches, emotions, and bodies. Our oldest at the time was just a toddler, I was a full-time student at the University of Iowa working on my degree in education and he worked full-time.
I don’t remember the specific words that were said, but I do remember the gist of it. My husband has this saying that “time is money” and that was part of it. In other words, we realized that time has value and the less of it you have the more valuable it becomes. We traded the time we spent watching the mainstream news for doing other things that were more valuable to us; more positive things that led to a better quality of being. We never looked back.
I really felt as if someone were trying to drive me insane by pushing contrary, nonsensical, sensationalized, downright lies into my head through the airwaves, trying to shock and melt my brain.
I didn’t even realize how long it had been until March of 2020 when I felt like my mind was being shocked. I mean that literally. I really felt as if someone were trying to drive me insane by pushing contrary, nonsensical, sensationalized, downright lies into my head through the airwaves, trying to shock and melt my brain. It was unsettling to say the least.
Without going into the whole thing - because I want to keep my blog up and if I say who it was or what was said I will get cancelled, which is a whole other post - the gist of it is this …
While visiting family, I watched with my own eyes, live, a person speaking for quite some time. Later on, that night the news was on and it was reported by the news anchors that this person had said some things of which there were several. The things they reported on being said were not actually said. I was there. I watched it. Hell, I even took notes! They were simply making things up that were said. Literally bald-faced lies.
If you don’t believe me that this was happening, spoiler alert! It’s STILL happening. Turn on any news story, listen to the report then go dig into the real information. I think you’ll find your brain melting a little, as well as feel your heart sink.
It was at that moment I had to stop and unpack the meaning of this. What exactly had happened to the mainstream news during the nearly 20 years that I hadn’t watched it? Was this even real? Was someone trying to punk me? Was punking still a thing? I had no idea!
I was stumped.
I focused first on what I DID know.
How had I still known what was going on in the world without watching the mainstream news? Well, that was easy to answer. With the explosion of the Internet, information was readily available and increasingly is to this day. Not just any information either. Actual, primary documentation – first hand accounts created by the actual factual people who were really there at the time of the event; or original documentation such as artifacts - original materials, published research, official documents, the list goes on.
And the thing about the internet is that the internet is forever. If you don’t believe me, meet my little friend, the Wayback Machine!
We would hear colleagues or neighbors talking about what was happening in the news and could go look it up and find the primary documentation. Similarly, I would read something in an article that referenced something happening around the world or Tim would hear something on a podcast. We would find the primary documentation for it and viola!
There are some interesting things to note about this process.
Regarding the second way of gaining information through podcasts, for instance, is that these topics weren’t to be found in the mainstream news many times. So, we were broadening our scope of our understanding of the world.
Even if what we were reading about would have caused emotional trauma if viewing through the news, it was much more palatable to look at it through this logical lens.
We often found more questions than answers. This led to learning more about our world than we would have otherwise.
Over time, our minds expanded, as did our hearts. What I mean by this is we found out that as humans, our egos want to think that we know everything. Through this process, we soon realized that we don’t know what we don’t know and what we think we know we might not really know. The thing is, we can never know everything and there are some things that we may never find the answer to.
How many times have you dismissed a person (or maybe it was you that was dismissed) because the idea, thought, or opinion being shared didn’t fit the current paradigm? It’s a shame really. That we sever our connection to others based on the inability to have an open mind.
Through this process I have come to understand two principles.
Everyone has the potential to teach you something. It may be knowledge, it may be something about yourself, it may be something to change your life.
It’s always in your best interest to hear the opposite side of an opinion or argument. How can you argue against or hold your own opinion against something when you don’t know what the thing actually is that you are disagreeing with? You may find common ground, you may see things differently, you may just come up with a winning argument.
So, back to the event that caused me to pause and ponder this enigmatic phenomenon. Here's the thing, I have been on a quest for truth my entire life. I have always asked questions and found out things for myself as much as possible. I analyze what I bring in through my senses. Then I come to a conclusion. This process, more often than not, is prompted by my intuition. I’ve always been someone who is guided by my intuition.
If something feels off or if something feels wrong, before I act I:
My gut, that has been guiding me my entire life, is telling me to stop.
What is going on around me that would make me feel uneasy?
3. Question & search for answers.
Why is it happening? Why are people participating/doing this thing/saying this thing? What are they trying to accomplish? What are other opinions? What is the evidence?
Is it true? How do we know it’s true? Is the evidence credible? Does the evidence make sense?
What, if anything, surprised me about this information and why? Why is this important to me/to others/the community/the world? What does this mean? What information am I missing? Where could I find it?
6. come to a conclusion.
After putting the pieces together I think this means _____.
Its important/not important because _______.
It’s worth remembering because _______.
This is something that I need to pursue because ___________.
7. continue the cycle
If there are unanswered questions or if I’m unable to come to a conclusion, I need to go through the steps again. This may take quite some time.
8. Act (or don’t act)
There are 7 steps to go through before coming to number 8, ACT. Going through these steps will stop you from a REaction that may very well have a negative outcome, to ACTion, which is much more likely to create a positive outcome.
Emotion and critical thinking, my checks-and-balances. We all have the ability to do this. It’s very important to stop and look, ask questions and do your own research, think for yourself, and come to your own conclusions before you act.