I am always baffled when I turn on NPR (90.7), which is the staple of sound and news in our home. We don’t like the news, really, and don’t usually keep up, but NPR has stories based out of the area, things that are more creatively based and less message-driven, either liberally or conservatively. One of my favorite, recent, special issues pieces that they did was called something like “Life in the Middle,” all about the middle class in America during this era. It was so wonderful to hear people talking about how they’ve changed their lives, many times for the better, because of the depression. They cut back on work, cut back on spending, and stayed home with their families more often. Some people even moved to an entirely new location in order to have a standard of living that was less costly. They reaped a great reward out of this. They weren’t keeping up with the Jones’ anymore. :)
Though NPR has these creative and interest-grabbing stories, they do of course keep up with the war, events going on world-wide, and sources from the BBC. When these news stories come on, I’m usually bound to turn the station to the less politically charged (by far!) and more relaxing piece of heaven, called the Jazz station (88.7). As the sounds of the sax and sweet piano fill the air.. and as my feet begin to dance a little bit.. all thoughts of Iraq and Pakistan are pushed from my mind.
Is this good? I’m not sure. For my immediate life, I believe yes. When I think of all of the problems in the world, and hear NPR (and every other news station) blaring the negative, talking about how many were killed in a bombing…. of course I don’t want that in my life. I feel powerless and helpless to aid those who are hurting. But… There has to be a balance. I know some people who don’t want to subject themselves to anything “negative” because they always want to feel good when they’re done with it. In this situation, we’re talking movies. Movies can be positive and negative, giving you real insight or showing you a totally fictional world. To me, if a movie, like “Blood Diamond” speaks a message that is true and right, speaking for justice and trying to share a story that is reality for some, it’s worth it to feel like crap after watching it. I have been educated, and therefore empowered. I can try to make choices that help to positively affect individuals in this plight.
I don’t want to shelter myself so much that I can live in the middle, with no clue at all, not happy, not content, always consumed by the American disconnected mentality. I have to have some of this negative news talk in my life because it makes me thankful, and encourages me to give of myself, my time, my money, to make the world a better place for others around me. We have no idea how good we have it, and if we aren’t keeping up at all with what’s going on in the world, then we’re not better off for it. We have no perspective in that situation. If we are unaware of the suffering of others, we can do nothing about it, and in some cases, mock it with our uneducated state.
How do the messages we hear help us? How do they hurt us? I believe we definitely have to be intentional as far as gatekeeping is concerned: we must guard our hearts, and not just let anything and everything in.
On a different note of current issues (Social Current Issues), I recently deleted my Facebook account. When this social hub first began, I thought it was great! You could find people who you knew, connect with them online, schedule things, share things, etc. Voila, the anti-interactive friendship was created! I decided I didn’t want to constantly subject myself to everyone’s lives… I didn’t want to take up huge amounts of time surfing around looking at what everyone else had, did, was doing… etc. That’s not helping anyone, it may be entertaining for awhile, but I have to be a better steward of my time. It is also hurting me when I do that, because I become very dissatisfied with myself, very quickly. The internet has a way of showing only what’s fun, pretty, and exciting. It doesn’t show the parts of us that are realistic.
So, in that way, I leave my social current issues to fate: if friends want to keep in touch, they will. I like to keep in touch, especially through writing & face-to-face, and it’s just that much more special to catch up. And that’s where I end my written journey for today. :)