Lien: Tired of Reading the News? Me Too


Sydney Stam

(Design by Sydney Stam | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer


It’s easy to slip into a state of despondency towards the world when you feel like nothing you do matters. These days, I’m focused on one bad thing in the media at a time. COVID-19 cases are rising, numerous mass shootings are occurring and my rights are being stripped away. And after hearing bad news repeatedly, I stop focusing on individual events because something new will happen to replace it.

While a privilege, taking breaks from the news is smart and vital for maintaining one’s mental wellness.

Global Issues

This isn’t just something I’m feeling, but it seems to be widespread. COVID-19 cases are on the rise once more, likely because people have simply stopped caring about it. Wave after wave of new mutations has worn us down and apathy has overtaken many. We’ve become desensitized to death tolls and numb to the world around us.

Seeing masks and hand sanitizer everywhere doesn’t ring any alarm bells. Now, it’s expected and normal, and it’s easy to forget that we’re living through a major historical event. As upsetting as this may be, it’s an understandable reaction to the world. It’s hard to cope with everything going on if you never allow yourself space to breathe. Mental and physical health go hand in hand, and both are just as important as the other.

Faced with the ever-present threats of a warming globe, losing track of oneself is bound to happen — the world is quite literally burning to a crisp. The injustice of climate politics never ceases. According to the news, the general public must lower their carbon footprint, buy electric cars, bike to work, etc., but celebrities like Kylie Jenner can go on three-minute flights — it’s a perfect example of privilege. People like that don’t need to worry about the state of the world — clearly not everyone must “turn the key, be idle-free.”

Things like that get my blood boiling. I find myself wishing I was in a place of power, wishing I could do something about issues that threaten my future and livelihood. But that daydream ends and I’m back where I started, only slightly worse off. I have to purposefully tune out when situations like this arise, intentionally clicking out of my news app to live blissfully ignorant.

National and Local Problems

The country isn’t faring much better. New, confusingly-worded abortion laws are already putting Texans at risk. With fines and jail time for those performing abortions, providers have started denying life-saving medical care, even if a pregnancy is killing someone. Utah, too, has tried instituting its trigger laws, which ban abortions with some exceptions. Supposedly, rape victims get an exception to the rule, but the law demands that doctors verify that the sexual assault got reported to the police, which could further traumatize a victim.

All in all, a nation post-Roe v. Wade means people will be unable to receive the help they need, and will fear even attempting to do so. As a woman, my patience and sanity are stretched thin. I never could have imagined living in a world with less rights than the one I was born into, but this is my new reality.

Politics in general steal most of my energy. Between the Jan. 6 hearings and the promises from our leaders that always somehow fall through, I’m tired. Does anyone really have our best interests, as a people, at heart?

Even this university has failed to act, leading to multiple student deaths. The murders of University of Utah students Lauren McCluskey and Zhifan Dong were both avoidable, yet they ended with these women in caskets. It’s dishearteningly close to home.

It’s impossible to simply ignore these things that have happened, but it’s a lot to deal with all at once. Stepping away from the news is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly but should happen in order to stay mentally stable.

How Do We Cope?

This is less about a lack of care, but an issue of only being able to handle so many things at a time. When you’re constantly inundated with more problems, it starts to get repetitive, and at some point, exhausting. Apathy is a normal and understandable reaction.

“It’s [an] overwhelming and frustrating feeling, like I don’t have any control over the situation and it’s one thing after another,” said U gender studies student Paige Askerlund. “I cope with constant bad news by doing things that bring me joy and take my mind off it.”

Askerlund recommended “taking it one day at a time” and making sure to have something to look forward to.

“I honestly feel like the world is a mess right now and all the people who have the power are barely doing anything to make it better,” said Amy Nguyen, a sophomore at the U. “It seems like they’re all just doing things in their favor and abusing their power. The mass shootings scare me and the fact that there’s nothing done to solve that problem is even more.”

Nguyen copes by muting things on social media.

“I mute people’s stories, change my location on Twitter to show news from other countries, hide any topic of interest from social media that relates to news, et cetera,” Nguyen said.

Falling victim to apathy is easy, but it’s important to recognize that an apathetic population can have some very bad consequences, as evidenced by the rise in COVID-19 cases. The news remains a crucial part of democracy and an important resource for many — it also breeds fear and can spread misinformation like wildfire. Having said that, no one can or should take on the weight of the world themselves.

Allow yourself rest from the onslaught of bad news — bad things will always be happening, and a day away won’t matter much.


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