Our conversation on Monday about the defining characteristics of our generation sparked me to reflect more thoroughly on my relationship to technology and digital information. I found this Time article, “You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?” by Markham Heid.
(Here’s a link: http://time.com/5125894/is-reading-news-bad-for-you/)
The article cites a survey done by the American Psychological Association in which “more than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result” (Heid). Heid argues that these effects could be a result not only of the constancy of reading the news, but also in the physical forms that we receive much of our news today. He cites increasingly visual and shocking videos and audio bytes as being capable of causing acute emotional responses and states that this can be especially true in watching bystander-captured media (Heid).
My relationship to the constant access to worldwide news is complicated. On the one hand, I recognize the privilege that I have in being able to have access to a smartphone/computer and being able to be informed about things that are happening outside of my neighborhood. Access to information at the speed and scope that we have is definitely a privilege, and I think that the Time article does a good job in addressing the ways that it might also be a problem. I know that for myself, constantly trying to be up to date on the most recent world tragedy can reap negative emotional effects. Like Edona mentioned in class, I don’t know that we were made to be able to fully process each new story before a new one comes along. The effect of this can sometimes be desensitization, as that can be the only way to get through all of the news, but can also be heightened emotions.
Although there is a guilt I experience as a result of not being well informed all the time, I know that sometimes it’s healthier for me to avoid checking the news every once and a while. The guilt of not knowing as much about current events as I feel like I should is definitely easier to deal with than the emotional turmoil of feeling like another bad thing happens somewhere in the world every passing minute and that the apocalypse is constantly just around the corner. I think it’s important that we stay cognizant of the way that the constant flow of information affects us and establish personal boundaries to our news sources so that we aren’t getting caught in the negative emotional affects that Heid outlines.