Friday, April 3, 2020
Dealing with bad news on TV
We are in the midst of a global crisis of epic proportions. For those who have not lived through the Great Depression and World War II, this COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. The minute we turn on our TVs and computers, we are deluged with bleak news and depressing statistics. Technology, of course, has altered our lives drastically. During the hungriest days of the Depression and the darkest days of World War II, there was no television. There was no social media. There were no 24-hour news stations with grim-faced announcers spouting doom and gloom all day and all night. In those days, there were only radios and newspapers.
Don't misunderstand me. We can't just bury all the bad news under a rug and be done with it. The media have a responsibility to educate and advise us in times of crisis. We depend on the the media to provide us with accurate information so that we can make intelligent decisions. It would be a grave dereliction of duty if the free press failed to do live up to to its responsibilities during a global crisis like this. At the same time, it is our civic duty to keep informed. That does not mean, however, that we have to wallow in despair. We don't have to allow ours minds to be saturated with depressing news. For the sake of our health and well-being, we need occasional respites from all the suffering and distress in the world. A person can only endure so much stress.
That's where television and streaming services come in. People are in isolation. They are frightened. They fear for elderly and vulnerable family and friends. Their lives are overloaded with worry and anxiety. They need diversions. They need a distractions. Otherwise they will crack up from all the pressure. They can't go to restaurants or movie theatres or attend religious services, Their community centres and libraries are closed. They are prohibited from attending sporting events or taking part in any major public gatherings. Purchasing necessary items in grocery stores and pharmacies is a harrowing experience these days. People are nervous. They wear face masks and avoid each other. I realize these measures are absolutely necessary, but they are not pleasant.
It's hard to live with such a great deal of uncertainty. We don't know how long this pandemic will last and when things will return to normal. During these long days of self-isolation and quarantine, it doesn't hurt to be entertained a bit. We should watch a an episode of an old TV series. We should do a bit of binge-watching on Netflix. Hey, let's even read some books. It's called harmless escapism. As long as we do it in moderation, it's good for our mental health during these extraordinary times.