Thursday, April 30, 2009


I simply MUST stop reading the news. I'm a worrier, you see, so all the talk about the credit crunch, and the climate change, and the war on terror was bad enough. But I'm also (and specially) a hypochondriac. So, as you can imagine, a pandemic is my worst fear. I'm coming up with all sorts of plans and possible scenarios in my head, and at the same time, all sorts of reasons why I'd never need to put these plans into action, because deep down, I'm an optimistic hypochondriac, if such thing exists.
The newspapers, on the other hand, are pretty sensationalist. So I'm considering starting a "Think before you read" challenge, make sure it's good news before I read it. And I'm happy to report that there WAS a piece of good news on the BBC website for me to read today! The weather forecasters have predicted that the UK will have a "hot and dry" summer. (Now you realize how British I have become, that I even share this weather obsession with my fellow citizens. It's in moments like this that I think maybe it's time to move back to Spain, or go to a completely different country, one with warm weather, and without swine flu, if there is any. One that I may be able to call home.)
Now, I understand the importance of being informed and the many benefits of instant transmission of news, specially in times like this. I studied Journalism at University, four years of listening, thinking, talking about the value of the fourth power. But sometimes, we can get so carried away with the constant dripping of bad news that we think the end of the world is approaching (or is that only me?). The idea of deciding what information I allow to get into my head and what I choose to ignore seems very liberating. If only for a weekend.


  1. I think you've hit on a very big issue: how to stay informed, involved, engaged while also protecting yourself from paranoid, sensationalist reporting. I'm not sure, but I do find that NPR is key for me. Maybe it's the lack of accompanying images, or maybe it's the fact that my attention is always somewhere else too, but public radio doesn't freak me out the way tv news does. And while I LOVE online news, I find it too easy to get sucked into for hours and hours...

    Could this be another rule for life? I'm loving the ones you posted...

  2. Enough of the going back to Spain talk already!
    At least stay until the end of Summer (who knows? the prediction may even be correct)
    Good luck with your bad news avoidance plan! :)

  3. Are you able to read my mind?
    Yesterday I felt so down all day because I did something first thing in the morning I never do - I read the news online. I did it right after my yoga class yet! Talk about going from high to low.
    I'm supposed to be going to Mexico in May but sadly will probably not. And in the process of informing myself, I realized, it's one thing to inform ourselves and another thing to drown in the pool of dread that is so easy to do if we go in too deep.
    So, you are not alone in this. I think it is something to be conscious of and I will accept that "think before you read" challenge!

  4. I hear you. I am a huge worrier. My mother says I need not worry so much, but I do. I just won't read the news, listen to it for a while (maybe forever). The media likes to scare the crap out of everyone -they should be monitored a bit better. Pandemic - that's not true. My doctor says 30K die from the regular flu everywhere (not sure if that is US or Worldwide). I think they'll fix this and thankfully it does go away with the help of Tamiflu and Relenza. I hope it stays away from me, though.

    I wish the economy would rebound already, as well.

    They say you are supposed to have it better than your parents -- I think that's not true (in most cases) anymore.

  5. This is a wonderful post, B, and brings up an important point: what you focus on expands.

    Personally, I stay just informed enough to feel in the (global) loop, but not so immersed that I'm soaked in worry and unease.

    Mostly, I try to keep my eye on what IS working in the world.


  6. I'm so glad more people think like this. I thought I was going to be told how irresponsible I am for not wanting to be informed!
    @ Katherine, I'll try NPR
    @ Jan, I'm not going anywhere, not if we're having a hot and dry summer!
    @ Lynette, maybe I can read your mind... No, no, no to yoga and then news. Hold onto the nice balanced feeling as long as you can.
    @ P&P, I know, I can't help it either, and the media needs some perspective definitely.
    @ The fragrant muse, I want to do the same, focus on the positive.
    So maybe we should start the challenge! I'll think about how we can do it!

  7. You know, one day I'll pop over to Oxford for coffee and I think we'll have loads to talk about. I totally agree on the news front - I've been very reluctant to watch it lately, too many horrible things happening in the world. And as for swine flu, well, I'm unofficially an honorary president of polish society of hipochondriacts, and not a joyous one, so you can imagine...

  8. i love the phrase "optimistic hypochondriac" that's awesome.

    i hope the hot dry summer extends over to our side of the north sea, as i really hate slugs. and slugs hate hot and dry.

    i like to get my news from jon stewart's daily show. he's smart and he may talk about the bad stuff, but he does it in a most hilarious fashion. and he has a segment called "never going to f*#ing happen" that i nearly died laughing when i saw it last night. i hope he makes it a regular thing.

    maybe we should all make happy news pieces and submit them to CNN's iReport. :-) i know a guy with a camera...

  9. I agree, you have to be careful about how much of the bad news you let in. I was watching the news this AM and had to turn to the sports channel, the worst thing there is that the "home" team lost.

  10. New visitor from Julochka's recommendation! Love your posts!

    We don't watch the news at our house (home?). We read the local newspaper and our whole family reads it (including the 7 and 8 year olds). We have found that we can get much better perspective, as well as get the local news as well. If the AP stories are all "bad news" we can usually just read the first few paragraphs and get the important bits.

    My son even told his grandmother the other day "Moddie, (what we call that grandma) why do you watch the news? It just gets you cranky and in a bad mood." Exactly right, I say. And she did too.

    I would say that our family is well informed and on top of what is happening in the world, and our family is not do "down" on the world.

  11. Choosing what to let into your head... that's a really good idea. For the record, the swine flu has been terrifying me too. My kids pick up everything and I have been so scared that they will bring this home too.

  12. Thanks for the recommendations on what to watch/read. I know how the media would pick up a story and blow it out of proportion, but it's scary nonetheless. Nice to know I'm not the only one.
    @ Polly, we should totally have a meeting of the hypochondriac society in Oxford sometime.

  13. I love julochka's idea!
    Let's fill the world with some more good news.

  14. It is hard to believe that anyone is a hypochondriac in this world, at least when you compare them to the journalists who seem to be the drama kings and queens of the hour. Everything is life or death, the end of the world or civilisation. It would be nice, just once, to read something that displayed the facts in a fair and realistic way and left the judgement and interpretation to the reader.

  15. i agree with you that we get sidetracked a lot because there's just so many bad news, making everyone believe the end of the world is just around the corner (which means it's not just you), but i also think that most people just refuse to look at the bright side. There may be a lot of bad news, but there are also a lot of good news. It's a matter of choosing what you want to hear.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, B.

  16. Hi Ms. B,

    What a special place you hold in my little blogging are my first follower!

    Thanks for that nod of confidence and keep up the fabulous writing - I love reading your stuff!


  17. Optimistic hypochondriac: I think that makes perfect sense, actually.

    I never think anything bad will happen to me. Optimist delusionist?

    As for swine flu, a friend in Houston wrote and said that some schools have suspended classes for up to two weeks. I know they are a lot closer to Mexico than we are, but this seems like a truly disproportionate response.

    I often read too much news, but I also notice how much of it seems irrelevant when you just go about your daily life. Striking the balance is always the thing.

    I found your blog through Julochka . . . and it is wonderful, just as she said!

  18. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one to feel overwhelmed, but you're right, is all about finding perspective.


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