Media overload and anxiety
I open up my computer and log onto Facebook. I am scrolling and scrolling, and all I see are news articles and opinion pieces. But what is the real news? Why is NBC taking up most of my news feed? I’m now at the doctor’s office. CNN is on the television. Heads talk and talk and talk. Just like they are meant to. But while they talk, are they really even saying anything? Are they just like the recent Kristen Wiig episode of SNL with the robotic talking heads on Anderson Cooper? Am I experiencing media overkill at this point? Yes.
Now, I can barely allow myself to read the New York Times homepage. I cannot sit for more than five minutes and watch the news. I avoid scrolling through Facebook. I can’t. And why’s that? Because the media has become a monster. This monster sucks you in. This monster makes you anxious, excited, depressed, even though it doesn’t even know the full story. The amount of coverage exceeds the amount of actual information.
As a child, the news scared me. All of the violence and events covered made me afraid and nervous. As I grew older, I became more accustomed to watching the news to be informed. I started reading newspapers and scanning headlines on the web. I watched TV news. I knew that TV newscasts have to wait for events to happen, and in the meantime, they are trying to fill the empty space. Now one could argue that news has always been this way. But there is too much coverage, and not enough depth. Not only do I see this in TV media, but I also see it in newspapers and online. I read and read, and yet still learn nothing.
It has taken this election for me to finally say that it is too much. It is too much to see all of these things happening, but they’re not really happening. The anxiety that the news makes me feel is not real. Sure, we do not know who Trump is going to pick for his cabinet, but why must we spend so much time and energy analyzing every single person who walks in and out of Trump Tower?
Psychologists say that negative news can lead to stress, anxiety, and, if it is constant, violent news coverage, even possible post-traumatic stress disorder. Viewing negative news 24/7 can lead to impacts on your own life and your perceptions of the world. All of the negative news and the guessing that the news is doing can create extreme amounts of anxiety, especially for me.
This exists outside of the election. News is not like this just because of Donald Trump or a recount. This is not because of the 2016 election. This has been happening and this is the peak of this issue with news.
As a person who wants to stay informed, it is almost impossible to try to stomach all of this information that isn’t really information. The news is getting very good at saying a lot without saying anything at all. It scares me that I’m only seeing talking heads and articles that regurgitate the same information over and over. It makes me worry that there are things that are missing and it makes me worry because they are reporting while they do not know anything or much at all.
So where is someone supposed to get their news and information nowadays? With fake news, guessing news, and this repeat news, where can someone get answers? How can you get information without being stressed and scared? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.