I don’t generally read a newspaper, either print or online. Sometimes I feel like this is an irresponsible thing to do, that I should be keeping myself educated about what is going on in the world. But I just can’t take the news. Most of the time it is either too depressing or just another article on the same old topic not saying much at all. I know that there are terrible things going on all over the world; I don’t need to have the details of each one drummed into me day after day. If the article is about something the United States government has or is doing, it is likely to get my blood boiling, and I really don’t need that kind of stress on a day-to-day basis either. I do occasionally feel that I am missing something by not reading the news (for example, looking at nytimes.com right now I see a few articles which I would most likely find interesting), but it is so hard to do without becoming overwhelmed.
I do try to keep up with a few feminist blogs which include newsy items of interest to feminism. Feministe and Feministing are both multi-author blogs with many updates per day, while The Curvature is written by a single author who manages to post lengthy analyses of various things on average more than once a day. However, I’m starting to find reading even just these three blogs (as well as a few others, such as No Cookies for Me, which are updated less than once a day) somewhat overwhelming. My blog reader has unread items from weeks ago that I will probably never get to. All of the authors write interesting posts and are capable of making me think about something in a new way, but sometimes I just can’t read yet another post about a rape apologist. So much of the news written about on these blogs is negative and it is starting to take its toll on me. In addition, the comment threads on these posts can get quite long, and while I want to read the comments for the posts that interest me the most, it is so much to process. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see that there is a large community of people who share similar values and beliefs with me, and occasionally I even feel inspired to write a comment on one of the posts. It is hard to know how to keep with these blogs without becoming both overwhelmed and desensitized to the types of things that get written about.
To generalize for a moment, I think desensitization is a big problem with the way in which violence and war is written about and shown in the news. When you see similar violent images over and over again (photos in the paper, or even more powerfully, on television), they start to lose their impact on your emotions. And then you start to accept that this is just the way things are. Perhaps I get so easily overwhelmed reading the news precisely because I am not desensitized in the way that most Americans are.
The one news source I read religiously is Ms. Magazine. It comes only four times a year and it is always packed full of well-written, well-researched, thoughtful articles on a variety of topics, with both positive and negative news. I enjoy that all this is encapsulated in a single magazine, which makes it feel more balanced than the daily stream of blog posts. I look forward to each new issue.
This post is a little rambly, but I think the basic question I am asking myself (and you, if you care to respond) is: in today’s culture, with so many media and news sources, how does one keep up with the important things in the news (or the things that are particularly interesting to you) without becoming overwhelmed and/or desensitized?