I am sipping my coffee quietly this morning, and scrolling through my Facebook feed. This morning I am aware that in about 30 minutes (the time it took me to ‘catch up’ since last time I looked at Facebook) I have built ‘a snapshot of the world’, complete with outrage, disapproval, offense, defense, humor, ire, and an occasional ‘what the fuck?’ moment. Well, it gives the appearance of being ‘complete’ – and it comes to me ‘endorsed’ by my friends, so it must be accurate, too? Right? Hardly.

Some time ago I made a point of cutting way back on media consumption, primarily because revenue-driven sensationalized media reporting of current events was actually doing me emotional damage and preventing me from finding contentment and joy by keeping me emotionally aroused and my PTSD symptoms simmering in the background all the time – no rest. The ‘easy’ part – and it isn’t easy – has been turning away from obvious ‘news’ media outlets; I have no cable connection, no network television access (by choice), and I stay away from ‘news’ sources most of the time (and when I do read news, I seek out the sources that are most strictly vetted, and often from foreign sources for an outside perspective). Still… there’s Facebook. I maintain a lot of distant connections with family and long-time friends through Facebook. It’s harder to avoid being exposed to the outrage machinery as I scroll through my feed – and I’m still so vulnerable; these are people who matter to me, what matters to them must also therefore matter to me… right? Ouch.

I’m learning. It takes time and practice to refrain from reading the articles. Many times the headlines are sufficient to determine whether there is implicit – or even explicit – bias in the source material, or the writing (sometimes just checking where the article came from is enough). I practice applying the same rules to items linked through Facebook that I do any article I might happen upon online. If a topic or event looks noteworthy, or of sufficient interest to read further – I leave Facebook, Google it, and read about it from the least biased most vetted best cited sources I can identify – instead of the linked article (reading the linked article only if I intend to comment on it). It’s time-consuming – and I don’t always have time for that. I will note that not once have I ever actually regretted not reading about some tragedy, or some political maneuver, or some socialite’s faux pas, or… you get my point, I’m sure; living life is far more engaging than reading about the latest outrage.

Outrage is profitable. Outrage generates a lot of revenue, and a lot of voter interest. Outrage is also damaging to the person experiencing it in the moment, and long-term lingering outrage takes a long-term lingering toll on our contentment and quality of life; it colors our entire experience. I’m just saying – when you allow your heart and mind to be taken over by outrage, whose interests are you actually serving? It’s a worthy question. I am answering for myself by walking on – I don’t need it. Your needs (and results) may vary. 🙂

In 30 minutes on Facebook I am easily able to form an impression of the world – the whole world, colored by the opinions of my friends list. I like my friends – else why would they be there in my friends list, right? Even so, I don’t think there’s much value in seeing the world only as it is limited and filtered through their impressions, their outrage, their filters and biases and then calling that ‘the world’. It’s a rather narrow view. A proper snapshot of ‘the world’ would be complete – and random, and messy, and unexpectedly exotic – and mundane – and quite probably with very little outrage going on at all, in any one moment or place, generally. My traveling partner has made similar observations recently, and it’s on my mind; how do I best make use of this awareness to increase my quality of life day-to-day?

There is power in perspective, and in choice.

There is power in perspective, and in choice.

I think I will start the new year a new way; I will refrain from linking news articles in Facebook (knowing that topics of interest will reach my friends in other ways from other sources). I will refrain from reading them there, too, since there are other better sources for news when I wish to ‘get caught up’. I will make more time to connect with people directly about things that matter to us in a positive way, instead – real conversations with human beings. I can’t shut down the global media outrage machine, but I can sure refuse to be a cog. 🙂

Today is a good day to be the change I would like to see. Today is a good day to use some verbs. 🙂