During one of my talks I went to last weekend the speaker said (and I paraphrase), "We have become so hyper global in recent years. We can find out about natural disasters, famine, genocide, etc in real time. Which is good to know about so that aid can get to places faster, but for our own sanity we need to focus on being more local in the face of super global. From the position of local we have more chance to effect positive change in our lives and the lives of others."
AMEN! If all I focus on is the news outside not only my door, but also my city, state, and country then I'm not focusing on my house, my family, my heart, and my life.
She recommended that you take a 14 day break from news to "break" the cycle of emotions that global news + the internet brings to your living room every second of every day. And I'm nothing if not an addict to news from any outlet in any media form. My fingers automatically type the websites of one news source after another. I knew this would be tough assignment.
So last week I started my moratorium on news and facebook. At first it was really hard. I felt like I was missing out on something (I didn't know what! But I knew it was something). But one week in I don't even miss the news. I actually relish not feeling the anxiety, worry, and anger I feel every time I finish reading something. It's hard to focus on hope and positivity when all you read about it is nothing but horror and panic across the globe. The recession doesn't seem never ending when you don't have some pundit telling you how we will never emerge. Humanity doesn't seem so callous when you only have to deal with bad behavior in your own backyard and not globally. I will still wake-up after a bad day on the stock market. I will still enjoy a warm Florida morning walk even if Lindsey Lohan skips her court appointed volunteer work.
But I do enjoy being informed so I think when I pick back up on the news it will be in newspaper, magazine, and radio form. I feel that those forms of media are less hysterical and opinionated than my usual roundup of bloggers, websites, and online forums where temperatures run high and compassion for another opinion runs real low. As for Facebook I caved in and checked two days ago. I love seeing pictures of my friends and family's children but I do hope to keep that to once or twice a day. No more "bored" hours just posting and commenting on nothing really.
The other added bonus of being news/facebook free besides feeling calmer and more relaxed is that I have a lot of free time on my hands. I've gotten the house cleaner, I've reorganized my office, I've finished projects I started years ago, I've been exercising, reading books, listening to music, etc. There aren't a lot of ways to waste your time on the internet if you take out news and facebook. I've perused pinterest and tumblr and checked out designsponge and some vegan food blogs, but other than that anytime my automatic pilot kicks on and I want to type in people.com I start to think to myself, "What else could I be doing?" And usually the list is long and a lot more enjoyable than thinking about Kim Kardashian or any of the baby celebrities that I don't even know what they do. Sing? Dance? Make-out with each other?
I feel like this shift towards locality has really started to happen. You see it in the local food movement, the shop local movements, etc. It's easier to have empathy for, let's say a Republican (or a Democrat- whatever gets you going), when it's your neighbor you know and love and see around town rather than some anonymous poster on a message board, spitting venom from Montana or Maine.
Here's to local, calm, and compassion.
Hugs and Puppies,