The recent tragic events in London, where an attacker killed four people, and injured several others in what appears to be a terrorist attack has led to a vast outpouring of not only grief, but fear across social media and online communities. When you add this to many recent political events such as the rise of certain far right political parties, or the unexpected presidency of Donald Trump it can feel as though the world is becoming more chaotic and less tolerant every day.
Too Much Negative Information?
Turning on the news sometimes feels like an exercise in doom-mongering, rather than learning information regarding topical events across the globe. Although there is no doubt that what happened yesterday is an enormous tragedy, and we should never allow ourselves to become complacent when it comes to fighting injustice, intolerance and violence, sometimes it can be wise to take some measures to buffer the ever-increasing negativity in the media.
It’s important to stay informed and to be politically and socially aware. After all, none of us live in a vacuum and what happens across the globe can be very relevant to us on both a small and larger scale. But sometimes too much negative information does us more harm than good.
Help Yourself First!
There is a common saying which relates to the advice you are given if there is an event whilst traveling on an aircraft. The advice says to always put your own oxygen mask on before attempting to help anyone else. This is because you can’t hope to help anyone else if you have already been overcome by what’s happening.
This is good advice to follow when the world seems so chaotic.
So, what does putting on our oxygen masks look like when it comes to how we absorb and engage with shocking news stories or negative political events for example?
Find Your Calm and Balance!
The concept of balance is key here. Being aware but not immersed is a good place to start. Being aware means perhaps checking out the news once a day or a few times per week. It means perhaps engaging in dialogue with others to help come to new understandings. It means educating ourselves about events and doing what we can to add positively to the situation. This might mean reaching out to someone who is suffering. It might mean attending a demonstration or signing a petition. It might mean donating to a charitable cause.
Immersion on the other hand is when you have social media, news feeds and Twitter feeds running all day or for a significant portion of the day. At some point the information you consume becomes less about educating yourself, and more about an entire mental immersion in anger, grief, pain and negativity.
This can lead quite quickly to a feeling of burnout, as well as a skewed perception of the world and the viewpoints of people. Remember that social media is a breeding ground for trolls and people with incredibly negative opinions, who aren’t afraid to provoke or sensationalize events. Becoming too immersed in these sorts of communities will only heighten the sense of anger, fear and insecurity about the future.
Take Your Time and Relax More!
Take some time to be with yourself and loved ones, away from online and social media. Practicing relaxation and compassion is helpful at times like these. This helps to restore a sense of peace and balance, and enables us to look more rationally at situations.
Practicing focused relaxation and compassion will help to ground you when things seem desperate and when despair threatens to become overwhelming. Whilst its natural to feel sad and low about awful events such as in London, becoming deeply immersed in the shock of it will not help the people who died, their relatives or you.
What does help is people who find calm and find spaces of tolerance and compassion inside of them. The more people who learn to live their lives this way and pass on those ideals to others, the better-quality communities and societies we build.
It might feel like you are powerless and insignificant compared to things on a global scale. This is both true and untrue. Whilst none of us can change the whole world on our own, many of us can. There is a beautiful quote by David Mitchell who wrote ‘Cloud Atlas:’
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?
I’m Grace, a fallen star living in Englands blooming fields.