News? Whose?

On a belated Mother’s Day visit to my folks in Atlanta earlier this week, I did something I haven’t done in years: watched an entire TV news program from start to finish.  My mom is recovering from a broken leg, so we did not do our usual restaurant and dollar store hopping; instead, we sat around and talked and laughed a bunch.  But then at 6:00 p.m., my mom clicked on the news, in part, I believe/know, because I was in a ridiculously zealous photo-sharing mood, and kept forcing my folks to look at quite a few of the 2612 pics on my iPhone’s camera roll.

But, really now, come on, isn’t this a cool pic of Mr. Happy meditating?

Anyway, the hour-long Atlanta news show began, and “news” story after “news” story poured forth from the television and into our attention and consciousness.  Here’s a brief cataloging of what I remember:

1.  Flesh-eating bacteria and fear of local waters being unsafe for swimming

2.  Young mother of three abandoning kids in downtown park

3.  Condemned building attracting drug pushers in middle class area

4.  New shoulder lanes causing huge traffic problems on 400 north of city

5.  FAMU hazing death’s Atlanta connections

6.  U.S. military spending hundreds of millions of dollars on weight loss surgery for family members of soldiers  (I tried to get a number for a contact person for this one–my dad was in the Navy, and my last year’s swimsuit is pretty darn snug.)

7.  Obesity rates approaching 50% of population  (Apparently no problem if you’re military married.)

8.  Listing of number of metro murders for 2012  (I can’t remember how many–by this time I was getting a bit newsnumb.)

9.  TRS (Teachers’ Retirement System) of Georgia’s financial woes

10.  Negative etc. after negative etc.

Floored.  I was floored.  And VERY happy when mom, a little after 7:00, remembered to switch from the national news (“Is Obama unfit for second term?”  “Romney’s greedy big business connections”) to Vanna White and Wheel of Fortune.  Vanna really does continue to look beautiful.  And I’m SO glad she got to keep her job way back when the board went digital.  Sure, we all know that her touching each letter box isn’t REALLY necessary, like it was when she manually had to turn each box, but still, it works for the show.  It was college night, airing from Portland, and a girl with big hair won $60,000 dollars!  She kept Vanna hopping, naming correct consonants without pause and buying up vowels like “Foreign Investors Continuing to Dominate U.S. Bank Purchases” (another story-to-come on the national news we didn’t finish watching).

In his insighful book Spontaneous Happiness, one of my favorite authors Dr. Andrew Weil suggests we pay closer attention to our “mental nutrition”:  “[W]hat we allow into our minds is as important as what we feed our bodies and significantly influences our emotional well-being.”  I agree.  He goes on to theorize that “if you habitually and unconsciously listen to sad music, read sad stories, and watch sad movies, chances are you will be sadder than if you choose happier input.  If you habitually tune into news programs that make you angry and distraught, chances are you will spend less time in the zone of serenity and contentment.”  (I needed a doctor to tell me that?!)

Question #1 to self:  “If I don’t watch the news. won’t I be kept in the dark about what’s going on in the world?”

As I write this sentence, it’s Wednesday at 4:13 p.m.  CNN’s headlines:

Overall a fairly disturbing litany of bad news.  (However, it IS good news that the girl with the infection is getting better.  May she recover to great health.)   If I turn on CNN or one of the other 24 hour cable news channels I get to hear this type of reporting over and over with “breaking news” interjected from time to time.

Two-part answer to self about Question #1 above:  “First, I probably don’t really need to hear all that ‘news’ to begin with, do I?  Second, I will stay on top of the ‘major stories’ simply by being on a computer, or talking to somebody at the water fountain, etc.”

Question #2 to self:  “WHO gets to decide what constitutes the news, what the definition of news actually is?”

Question #3 to self:  “Have I been programmed to accept the above definition?”

Question #4 to self:  “Are there alternatives to this mindset?”

I don’t really have the answers, of course, but perhaps asking the questions is what’s most important.

And I’m not suggesting that the fireman getting the cat out of the treetop is breaking news (but then again, neither is Travolta’s massage woes).

In Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Weil shares several links to “good news” sites.  Thinking they were of the kitty rescue type, I was very happily surprised with their depth and relevancy.  Here are three wonderful good news sources:

www.happynews.com

www.goodnewsnetwork.org

www.odewire.com (which bills itself as “news for intelligent optimists”)

Here’s a bit of a story from today’s odewire:

*************************************************************************************************

After years of neglect, Palestinians going green

After years of neglect, Palestinians going green.  Officials are encouraging thousands of Palestinian children to collect compost, visit recycling centers, plant trees in hopes that the young generation will learn good habits.  In a society preoccupied with….

********************************************************************************************************

I agree with Dr. Weil when he writes that he  wouldn’t “recommend getting all your news from such sites, but it may be worth adding one or two of them to your Favorites List as an antidote to the negativity that dominates most news outlets.”

Okay, this news program is over for now.  Here’s to your healthy and joyful mental nutrition!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by alecia on May 17, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly… on a related note, we have Thoughtful Thursdays here–each person states one concern they have today and how to turn it into a positive. Doesn’t always work for headline news, sadly, but it helps focus on the positive!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: