How has the news been affecting our mind, souls, and bodies? It's an obvious question when we are constantly bombarded with negative news. Is the world as bad as it seems? Statistics would say no, but we are living with very unstable leadership and especially uncertain times. Your mind can be easily taught to think things are worse than they are. Under the current leadership, believing things are worse than they actually are, is becoming dangerously easy to do.
Due to a constant competition for ratings, news outlets will often "over-report" negative news stories. The news that makes the final cut is violent and dramatic with the kinds of headlines and visuals that elicit a visceral, and emotional response.
How is this affecting us? The leading expert on the issue of how negative media exposure affects us over time is psychologist Dr. Graham Davey, who conducted extensive research in the area. What were his findings? Dr. Graham and his associates found that constant exposure to negative and violent news and media can cause elevated stress levels leading to mental illnesses such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Clinical Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Songs like "Logic 1-800-273-8255 ft. Alessia Cara, Khali", are indicative of an outcry amongst people, (black people in particular) but depression and mental illness know no color. Black people in this country are not without their triggers in a world that ostracizes, disenfranchises, appropriates, over-incarcerates, and even kills black people and their culture.
Whenever black souls are in pain, it comes out in our art and culture. This song is no exception, nor were so many others before it.
Black Lives Matter activist, MarShawn McCarrel, 23, took his own life and left us with these harrowing and heartbreaking words, "My demons won today..." The demon, of course, being perpetual grief triggered by a society that hates you for who you are. The statement, "Black Lives Matter" should not be controversial, yet saying these words in a public social media forum will break the internet with hatred and negative interactions.
The mind handles bad news in two important ways according to the study by Dr. Grahm:
- The mind becomes more sensitive to the negative exposure to the news, or
- The mind becomes desensitized to the issue.
Of course, we are generalizing the Dr.'s findings, and psychology is more complicated than that, but that is the broad picture of what happens to a population that is constantly confronted with negative, traumatizing, or violent content. Emapthy/Sympathy and apathy are coping mechanisms of the mind. Constantly consuming negative news and content have serious side effects--long term if you are not carefully limiting the amount of compelling content you process.
So what do we do? We can't control the news. In my personal opionion, the best medicine is activism, meditation, and processing negative information in healthy ways (ie: journaling, talking to friends and family, talking to a mental health professional). So here's the plan:
- If you see a news story that bothers you, feel the feelings and meditate to examine and process your emotions. Don't stop there! Take action. Send an email or make a call about the issue you've witnessed, do something--it's for you.
- Vlog/Blog about it, and think of solutions that could be taken (This helps you feel powerful--because you are).
- Then VENT!!! Don't keep it all inside. Talk, journal, and even seek a health care professional to help you process your feelings and emotions so that you can cope in healthy ways.