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When the news is bad

Watching the news on TV, or following too many news sites, can harm the peace of an unschooling home. Some moms, especially when their children are young, have found more peace if they focus inward on their children than outward far away.

Alex Polikowsky wrote: Best thing I did was to listen to you Sandra and I stopped reading the news!!!"

I stopped watching the news much when I had baby Kirby and couldn't handle negativity or stories of wounded babies. I figured when I didn't have young children, I'd watch the news again. Kirby is 29, and I avoid it still.

If someone WANTS to be afraid and pissed off, even on a fairly peaceful day, all it takes is to turn the news on and let it affect your entire nervous system, your digestive system, your adrenal glands and hormones, your chance of trusting your neighbors, or of sleeping peacefully.

If ten million people are angry and pissed off, the world will not be better if another million people add their anger, fury, sorrow, and cry and lose sleep. It won't help if it's twelve or fifteen million people, or a billion people.

It won't help if ONE more person gets upset. And if they have children, they're harming more people than themselves.

originally on my facebook page here: Sandra Dodd

Zann Carter posted this on facebook July 21, 2012. I don't know where I wrote the original:

From my old friend, Sandra Dodd...some wise words, I think:
"I have a suggestion about families, and children, and learning, and the news. Please, anyone with a child too young to google or to read, don't review for them terrible news about dead babies or shootings or wars. Make their lives happy, where they are, today.

For moms: If you don't know anyone directly affected by bad news, don't allow yourself to be "directly affected" in such a way that you go deep into your feelings about "what if" and "poor families." It is possible to slip down too far, and who's taking care of your children then?

For Batman fans. :-)
If you have a kid wanting to go see the Batman movie, Take him! Don't whine or whinge or wring your hands about something that happened somewhere else. It was not about the movie, and it was not about a theater. It was about one guy who was for some reason unhappy.

Don't let your own kids grow up to be so unhappy. Start now! HAVE A NICE DAY!!! Create nice-dayness around you.

A 24 year old did something horrible last night. I have a 25 year old and a 23 year old who have done very nice things this week. Be on the positive team, not the negative team. You can do it.

If anyone posts any details about horrible things, I'll delete them quietly. If anyone posts suggestions for happy things to do to promote joy and gratitude, that would be great!"

It was the morning after a shooting in a theater; you don't need to look it up. If you didn't know, or didn't remember, sorry for the reminder.

I added the writing to this page on July 21, 2018 (when it came up in Facebook Memories).

I found the original, at Radical Unschooling Info.
and you can read it there with lots of comments from others.

The same writing above was quoted by someone I don't know in person (as I do Zann Carter). She prefaced it with "Great advice from Sandra Dodd:" and quoted the post Zann quoted above. I'm adding this to the page in 2021. Facebook memories brought it to light. Her post was friends only and there were only a few comments, but I liked my conclusion, so I'm bringing them.

A friend of this fb friend of mine wanted to defend sharing news with kids:

There are certainly age appropriate levels of information, but I think it is one of the finer qualities of the human race when people are deeply affected by the pain of others... if it leads to personal dysfunction that is certainly not helpful to anyone, but neither is an uncaring attitude. I think that compassion does put people on the positive team.
Page-owner's response:
Yeah, I don't think she's advocating a lack of compassion. She was likely reacting to moms saying, "OMG, how can I ever be okay with letting my children leave the house ever again, because the world is an unsafe place!"
and my own response:
I don't think a mother LACKS compassion when she protects her own child from fear and sorrow. And even among childless adults, if 1,000,000 people are unhappy and crying, that's enough. If my child is dead, she will be no more alive if 100 million people's days are ruined, or a billion people. It would be better for a few families to mourn and for the rest to live their lives without sorrow.

Some people feel self-righteous and involved when they are indignant and horrified, but it's unhealthy for them and for their children.

There is something in each murderer's life that should have been better. There should be more peace in the world, not less.

From an unschooling chat in 2012, someone wrote:
I remember Sandra saying something about avoiding bad news if it meant it made you unhappy, as that wasn't good for anyone, or something along those lines. A big fat lighbulb moment for me and a *duh* one, too— a kind of *smacks forehead in realisation*

Another Facebook Memories find:

I wrote this elsewhere, someone's page, and I've saved most of the claim I'm responding to.

Regarding fears and stress about impending nuclear war, I had earlier in that discussion written about how much they scared kids during the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was little, with maps and duck-and-cover.

I was recommending news avoidance and life-sweetening. Others were disagreeing with me. I bet their lives lack some sweetness they could easily reclaim.

I thought this might do someone a bit of good if I brought it to a more peaceful wall.


(me quoting someone else, and then my response, September 2017)

-=-I rarely watch the news... but because of the world we live in, there are a million ways to hear about world events. Unless you live way off the grid and never see another person, it's impossible. -=-

There's a difference between hearing a mention of something you can choose to look up later or not, and sitting in front of an hour (or more) of news reports every day.

"A million ways" makes it sound inevitable. There are conversations, TVs in public places, car radios, newspapers, and magazines. TV at home. Friends sending links on facebook.

I don't think there are a million ways. Maybe ten or a dozen, and telling your friends you would rather talk about something else can work well. Getting different facebook friends helps me.

I'm not an elected official; I don't want to be, and wouldn't want to dress up, make up, suck up to get that sort of thing. I can vote, but my vote is one in thousands (locally or statewide) or millions (nationally).

What I can do, and that I DO do, is to help people live calmly and peacefully. It always interests me when people want me to stop doing that, to take it back, to say that indignation and fear are as good as joy and a feeling of abundance.

And it's not just my opinion, that anger and stress are unhealthy for people biologically, and socially. And it's not escapism or irresponsibility for me to say that when people feel grateful for things in their lives (food, running water, safety, roofs that don't leak) that they will have a happier moment, hour, day, sleep. I didn't make that up. It's self-evident AND backed up by even the slightest knowledge of biology and psychology.

I'm going to leave this conversation now, but I won't stop reminding people that the news isn't designed to make your life better, and that feeling sick over international politics doesn't do anything other than to make you feel sick.

_____end of quote, of Sandra Dodd, from the wilds of facebook where I cannot link_____

Given up sugar? Great, now it’s time to cut the news from your diet, by Rolf Dobelli

From the series Nothing in the News by Joseph Ernst.
"Hello, my name is Rolf, and I’m a newsaholic."

If there were self-help groups for news junkies as there are for alcoholics, that’s how I would have introduced myself to the group, hoping they’d understand. But that was more than 10 years ago...

. . . .

For 10 years, I’ve consistently practised what I preach. The impact on my quality of life and decision-making has been remarkable. Try it. You’ve got nothing to lose. You have so much to gain.

[end of quote]

Sandra, commenting here:

I'm not at all as afraid of sugar as some people are, and I think lots of parents use "addiction" (the term) to manipulate their kids, but the arguments against living in, swimming in, international news, in his writing, are worth considering for anyone with children.

He shares a bit about the origins of European newspapers, and will get you thinking about why newspapers are always about the same size whether there were big happenings or not, and other things that will help you feel even better if you decide to turn away from "the news" and toward your children.

In 2023, the article was still at the link above, though the site was no longer producing articles. In case they let the site go, here is a backup at the Internet Archive, with all the images.

The cartoon was going around facebook. Thanks to Kelly D., I know it was by Bruce Beattie. So I looked, and thanks to this blog, I know that it's not on his regular website : What Can We Do To Lessen The Grip Of Fear From Terrorism? on the blog "Apartment 46."

I did the news news news thing with Word and a screen capture. It's better on the computer than the phone.

Negativity (avoidance of)

Building an Unschooling Nest

Being (being how?)