- Social media is fast becoming the number one source for news, and the news cycle operates on a 24/7 basis.
- But is this readily-available, sensationalized news cycle too much?
- Let’s dive into 3 reasons why you should temper your news exposure, and how to do it in a wise and socially-conscious way.
We just emerged from some of the worst years of our lives when it comes to news coverage and the new political challenges at home and abroad, mid-pandemic, hasn’t actually made things much easier. While the White House works to improve its track record with the American people, the new administration may step on a few toes in the process. Not only that, but the consistent turnout of climate change updates, the Israel Palestine confrontation, Russia’s military exercises and more unsettling news for our planet is at an all-time high.
The average American is consuming this intense barrage of news in a myriad of ways. Not only do we have to worry about sensationalized news stories on our television screens, but we are consuming our facts through the traditional routes of newspapers and radios, cable and network news, with the addition of online-only news sites, social media, and podcasts in recent decades. The onslaught is real, and it’s taking its toll.
But what is it about news exposure that makes it feel like such an attack on everyone? Doesn’t the news exist to rightfully inform the general public of the facts at hand? Wasn’t journalism created so that we could be well-educated, and be able to approach situations and decisions with more knowledge?
Somewhere along the way, finances and personal opinions began to play more of a role in news stories. Advertising dollars started to be promised by politically affiliated groups contingent on things the anchors would say and give airtime to. The world of marketing bled into the matrix of investigative journalism. Here are three main reasons you should temper your exposure to the news cycle, and some helpful ways to stay informed.
Too much news creates media bias.
If you fancy yourself a news connoisseur, you may be tuning in quite often to your favorite news affiliate. However, those who spend more time watching the news have also chosen stations with anchors that reflect what they want to see, their beliefs, and perhaps their energy throughout the day. It is safe to say that those who are watching the news digitally on specific platforms are then being pandered to by sponsored ads and related posts through a complicated targeted algorithmic process. Because the ads are catered to what viewers are and modeled after the rhetoric and topics these individuals are already interested in, they continue to receive their news, highlights, and tidbits from sources that lean the same way, politically or otherwise.
If you’re dividing up your time between conservative and progressive news stations to examine headlines and determine the facts – with the help of outside, educated sources – then the algorithm might not pander in such a specific way to your preferences. And while we always encourage re-posting professional articles that mirror your beliefs and topics you are passionate about, we do want you to be mindful of the types of articles you’re engaging with.
Sensationalism in the news can make you fearful.
Some days, the news will be filled with fluff pieces, like a profile on the dog park bar down the street, or a story about the first baby born on January 1st of the new year. But most days, the news is packed with terrifying information about domestic violence, terrorism, and global warming. One day might be void of shooting reports, but the next will air footage of people being tear gassed at a protest or a multi-car pileup on the highway. We’re already muddled in an excess of exceedingly awful news, never mind the American financial crisis, trade wars, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no wonder that exposure to the current news cycle directly contributes to anxiety and depression in adults. And that’s without factoring in sensationalism.
A new paper published by the American Psychological Association (APA) highlights the public health consequences of coronavirus media exposure alone. “Although it is critical for the media to convey information to the public to promote appropriate health protective behaviors and effective institutional responses, it is imperative that information be conveyed without sensationalism or disturbing images.” You may be experiencing sensationalism in medical reporting if you witness extravagant claims, assumptions, or uneducated interpretations are made about research findings. The news is more likely to show graphic images, which could cause further distress.
The paper suggests that less breaking event exposure via a news station – due to their political affiliations and often questionable practices – is important. This way, your news anchors and correspondents aren’t sensationalizing the issues with their obligatory commentary. Often, on-air talent are just instructed to fill the space anyway, but what they may view as polite conversation could become a stance on something.
Sensationalism in news exposure leads to health issues.
While news coverage can directly lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, those are often factors in a fearful mindset. According to the APA, “Several hours of daily television exposure in the days after 9/11 was associated with increased posttraumatic stress and new-onset physical health problems 2 to 3 years later.” Over the 3 years following the event, these trending high stress responses were eventually associated with additional cardiovascular health issues. This was particularly noted in people who had fears of looming terrorism.
There is so much confusion around what is fact and what is fiction at this point, that it may feel overwhelming to try to make sense of it at times. But the right information is out there. It is identifiable, traceable, and fact-based. Some social media platforms have integrated bots to fight misinformation spread on their sites, while tech giants have worked to create an array of apps and widgets to help you confirm fact vs. fiction.
Many people who need a break from stress triggers often receive updated stats from a news ticker in a brief window of time every day, seek out updated news stories from reputable sources online, and are responsible with their social media queries and usage. Some choose to balance a few minutes of news updates from their local station once per day, followed by the viewing of a late night comedy show or favorite sitcom. This way, the news is a bit easier to digest with some comic relief. (But no less impactful, and perhaps the creative flare will add an element of inspiration to the cause!)
If you’re feeling a lack of energy, or bouts of overwhelm, burnout, or stress from the news cycle, there are a few key supplements to consider. The ONE Mitochondrial Optimizer is an adaptogenic herbal blend tincture that encourages optimal energy throughout the day, as well as antioxidant support. This product is known to have boosted absorption rates, so supplementing around a chaotic schedule can still give you effective support. Lower blood pressure and help fight depression with magnesium tablets or capsules. Thorne’s Stress B-Complex is also a wonderful option to help fight feelings of stress or fatigue.
If you’d like to cut blocks of news-watching or doom-scrolling out of your schedule, choosing mindfulness can be a really fun challenge in lieu of screen time. Doing breathwork in a seated position can not only help relieve any stress the news may have caused in your day, but it also increases your respiratory function, regulates your nervous system, and helps to boost your immune system.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.