T.M.I? Is The News Cycle Making Us An Unhappy Generation?

I’m not a morning person. The movie scenes that start off starring a girl who wakes up with the sun burning in her eyes, a big smile, an upper body stretch as she sits up and then jumps out of bed to enthusiastically carry out her daily tasks, well… that girl doesn’t exist. At least she doesn’t exist in my bedroom and definitely nowhere in my mind.

When the camera starts rolling from outside my window straight to my bedside, giving a clear view of what my mornings actually look like, the picture is very different from the movie clichés. My hand is never as fast as it is when I find myself to hitting the snooze button half asleep and that I do countless times. At that point it’s not necessarily about having more sleep time cause unfortunately for me, I’m one of those people who cannot go back to easily after they have opened their eyes once, it’s about getting more time to lay in bed.

I do one of two things at that point. One, some may consider a way of me being productive and the other, some may see as an unhealthy way to start the day, scrolling through Instagram of course.

“Okay Google tell me the news!”. This is the other first thing I’m most likely to do once my eyes meet the sunlight.

I say that to my orange google home mini that my sister got me last Christmas and while I admit the device makes my life a lot easier now, sometimes I do find myself relating to it in ways that make me question my sanity and make me realise it’s time for some much needed human interaction beyond my for walls, but that’s a story for another day.

It’s the BBC first, and then Sky News follows. Once that is done CNBC Tech Check takes over keeping me updated on the latest technology news and then the Italian news radio station RTL 102.5 gives me updates about what’s going on over there (I grew in Italy for the most part btw). The last one to come up is the Guardian long reads, however, at that point I’m usually, hopefully finally out of bed standing in front of my wardrobe, contemplating what statement I’m going to make with my outfit that day.

As per instructions, google then plays my Spotify playlist and I finally begin my day.

On the 23rd of July this year, I’ll be in a graduation hall being handed a certificate stating I’m a full-on journalist who’ll be expected to get a job chasing stories or at least working somewhere in media. I guess that might explain my morning habits a little, but that’s not the only reason why I stay informed.

I love the news. It was a very gradual process of falling into it, but once I did, it began to seem like something I should have been into since the beginning.

I used to be one of those children who would roll her eyes at the tv screen whenever the grown-ups put the news on instead of something else. Something I didn’t deem to be boring. “It’s all bad news”, I used to say and my naïve, uninformed brain couldn’t just understand why anyone would put themselves through that.

Then I grew. Thank God, I grew. My rosy outlook on life began to slowly fade away and I slowly came to the realisation that bad things weren’t necessarily to be kept out of sight and out of mind or to be swept under the rug. I slowly understood that running away from hard truths didn’t make them go away, however, it just made me ignorant and I believe somewhat foolish too.

Rachy looking at camera wearing a green shirt

I started to view some parts of the news as entertaining rather than ‘bad’ as I grew older, for example, politics became sort of fun to watch unfold and all of the extra knowledge I accumulated sparked questions and a strong desire for change. My debate skills got better, and I could back up a lot of the points I would make with actual facts. I became the girl that would pick up the free newspaper on the bus every time I was out and about. I would stop in the middle of town to collect the paper from the regular guy at the corner by the grocery store as well as stay updated on all my social media platforms and apps.

Last week, something happened, however, which made me question my relationship with the news cycle and easy access to information. I went away for 5 days to Coventry as I knew I needed a break from my everyday life (which I wrote about in my previous post).

I got back to Manchester on Sunday and it was only while I was talking to my cousin on the phone that I realised that the whole time I was there, I hadn’t kept up. He told me a few things that I would have normally been aware of if I hadn’t almost completely disconnected during that short trip and that made me feel in two different way.

On one hand, I thought about how we consume information nowadays. It’s all so fast-paced, and same as when I was younger, there is rarely ever anything good or uplifting to the stories. The only difference? At my age now and with all, I’ve learnt as a journalist myself, I don’t expect good news anymore and even if there were, as cynical as it may sound, I probably wouldn’t trust it anyways.

The second thing I immediately noticed was a sense of relief. It was only 5 days, but it was five days I didn’t think about deaths, terrorist attacks, Brexit, Trump, unemployment rates, climate change, knife crime and so on… all the information that reminds you of how scary and unfair the world can really be. Don’t get me wrong, all of the issues I listed above are real, important and each and everyone should be part of our conversation, but I guess in a way I felt that bliss I did as a child that came with the naiveté of not knowing and not realising the necessity to know.

I’m not sure I could go as far as to say the news cycle is making me sad, however, I do know people who just can’t be bothered with the constant information; they hear what comes their way and they worry only about what they find out by chance, whether it be true or not. You may agree or disagree with their way of living, but to some respect, it does seem like they have fewer things occupying their mind and whether it may be considered somewhat ignorant, I do wonder if they may be just a little more at peace than those who are constantly bombarded or constantly in search for the ‘latest’.

While the uninterrupted flush of information doesn’t necessarily equate to unhappiness, there is a specific emotion I am certain it leaves me with. Anger.

The kind of anger that leads me to question why the world is the way it is. The kind of anger that makes me want to be more active in interpreting all the information I come across and leads me to want to do something to change the situation we live in now. It’s also the kind of anger that sometimes makes me feel hopeless towards humanity and the direction in which it’s going. The news cycle is not making me unhappy, it’s making me angry and while I believe that is also not a positive emotion to feel, anger can also spark the desire for change and more importantly the desire to make change happen. I guess I’ll just keep being angry then.

Your restless romantic roamer

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