Why Information Is Not Like Food

When your Twitter feed rolls daily with violence, and your Facebook news feed flips between outfits from the Oscars and evidence of terrorism, and the news reports the most terrible, depraved stories of humanity both locally and abroad, how are you supposed to proceed?

Let me rephrase, how am I supposed to proceed. I know I’m sensitive to the harsher realities of the world we live in today, and quite frankly, my anxiety spikes every single time a new tweet or CNN alert reports a new atrocity committed in the world. It distracts me, makes me fearful, and leaves me momentarily unsure of how to move forward. I’m not sure how to handle it, especially when often times it feels like I’m the only one that sees how terrible some things are.

I work in digital media, so I’m plugged into everything for at least 8 hours a day. On top of that, I’ve become a regular CBS Morning News viewer, and since college have recorded and watched 60 Minutes every Sunday. That’s a lot of really transparent, often sensationalized stories, and more often than not, the articles and news broadcasts leave me feeling depleted by the darkness, praying and wanting to pull my sweater up over my face. I believe the world should stop for tragedy, and yet, here I am absorbing tragedy weekly (sometimes daily) and it feels like too much.

Photo via Tumblr
Photo via Tumblr

Then today I was struck by this quote I saw on Twitter (of all places): Information is like food. Make conscious decisions on what you want to digest.

Love a good food analogy! I make very deliberate decisions about my food, so I’ll do the same with media, just decide to ingest and digest the information that is good for me, right? Not so much.

It would be so much easier on my mind and heart if I just tuned out all the negativity, unfollowed CNN and France 24 on Twitter, and refused to even think about things happening beyond my borders, beyond my reach, beyond my control, and beyond my ability to help. Man, it would be SO MUCH easier!

But I can’t do that.

You see, I’ve fought to become informed and to stay that way. It’s an imperative piece of burgeoning adulthood, and as information sharing and globalization only increase, we’re no longer able to just turn it off, tune it out, and walk away. Things that happen halfway around the world are now in our homes, and so too should they be on our minds. I want to be aware of world affairs. I want to know what I’m talking about when discussing political issues or foreign policy. And I’m grateful that my heart breaks when things aren’t as they should be, and I will never allow it to harden.

I don’t think we’re called to run away and cower from the tough things. If anything, we’re called to the tough stuff, or to “run toward the fire” as my dad puts it.

But, what are we to do when the nutritious digital food we’re choosing to ingest is the very thing that’s making us sick? Or when the fire we’re running toward seems to be burning us badly? How do I reconcile the desire to be globally minded –or at the very least, aware– with the regular onslaught of the chaos?


The Square Peg

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