“My desire to be well informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane”, were the words describing an illustration of two people talking, which was shared on social media a few months ago. The fact that it went viral illustrated that many people, including myself, could identify with the feeling.
A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast by Note to Self that stayed with me, and that reminded me about the illustration. It featured writer Kim Brooks who told her story of how she at a time in her life ended up excessively consuming news, “I made myself a kind of morbid repository for all the documented horribleness humanity had to offer”, she wrote. Until she one day reached information overload and closed her computer to the outside world for a period.
“As long as I kept my gaze forward and ignored whatever flared up in the corners of my eyes, I could see a relatively happy world. I didn’t want to look at it any other way.”
Kim Brooks express that she, as many that are socio-economically well-off and in countries without war, have the luxury of being ignorant to what is happening in the world around us.
Following news is a part of my daily work though, issues of human rights violations, discrimination and inequalities within the European Union are always on my radar (here you can read my work blog). Outside my job I also follow global news about politics, technology and science by listening to podcasts, reading some of the great articles shared via Foreign Policy Interrupted and browsing my twitter feed. Several of my blog posts are about non-fiction books I find interesting, such as The Advantage of Women in War.
However, lately I have felt something of an information overload myself. l struggle with a similar challenge that Kim Brooks describes, to bridge the “gap between information and insight, between awareness and empathic action”. While I read the news and I am aware of what is going on around me, I find it challenging to process the overwhelming information. The almost 300 girls that Boko Haram kidnapped in 2014 and that the Nigerian politicians abandoned, the gruesome war in Syria, the inhuman reception conditions for refugees in for example Greece, and the outrageous election campaign in US with Donald Trump who might become President in a couple of days, just to mention a few headlines. The information reach me, but does it truly affect me? and does it lead me to new insights and actions? Am I consuming news as a participant or a spectator?
This is the reason why I have not written any blog post for a while.
I am in the process of figuring out how to stay both well informed and sane. To find a new perspective on how to filter and process the fast pace information flow in a constructive way, and develop a personal strategy when I feel I need to and can do something about it (beyond slacktivist likes or tweets on social media). A part of this, I believe is to identify more sources of creativity and inspiration, and as Steve Jobs put it, surround myself with likeminded “round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently (—) because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the word, are the ones who do.”
How do you handle the news? Do share your thoughts with me.