How to Know if the News Is Harming or Helping You
- Becky Weber Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 19 Aug
Right at our fingertips.
On the screens in our homes, in public places, and at work.
It’s the news—keeping us informed and updated about everything that’s happening in the world.
When I was growing up, I remember the news being on in the background as I was getting ready for school. The only other time during the day that I would possibly see the news was around supper time when we were waiting for the food to cook or cleaning up afterward.
My family didn’t even have a subscription to the local newspaper. Two times a day, maybe, I heard about everything that was going on in the world.
It’s pretty obvious that times have changed.
The internet was invented, becoming another way for us to access the news. Pretty soon after that, phones became more than just something to talk on—they turned into informational devices in our hands 24/7. We’re being updated on events happening on the other side of the world within seconds.
Our culture is now used to having everything on demand, right when we want it, and it’s become a race for news sources to be the first one to break a story.
The news is helpful to keep us updated on what’s happening in our world.
It’s important to know what’s going on in the world around us. There are so many positives to being constantly updated. No longer do we have to wait for a city siren to warn us of a possible tornado headed our way. We’re alerted on our phones of the funnel cloud on the other side of the state.
Staying informed can be useful when living our daily lives, trying to make decisions, and being on top of current events. Thank God for those who serve us in this way.
But with so many options for news, the many different angles it can be reported from, and our pretty much constant access to it, the news can get overwhelming. How can we stay informed without it all becoming too much to handle? It’s important to take a step back and evaluate how the news is affecting us.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to figure out if the news is helpful to you or becoming harmful in your life.
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1. How do I feel after I watch the news?
Becoming aware of how we’re feeling, and learning how things affect us, is so important. Am I angry afterward? Short with my family because I’m overwhelmed? Does it make me fearful? Am I plagued with anxiety the rest of the day after looking at Twitter for 30 seconds?
With the huge amount of information we have access to, it’s not surprising that things can get overwhelming fast. If the news is starting to make you anxious or fearful, it might be good to take a look at how much time you’re spending watching, listening, or scrolling. It doesn’t hurt to take a break from something, especially when it’s causing unhealthy feelings or thoughts.
For the sake of your mental health and family, you might need to take a break from Facebook or your TV, even if it’s only for a few days.
2. How is the news affecting my view of the world and other people?
Have you ever formed an opinion about something based on what you have watched or read in the news? Does it subtly affect the way you look at someone who is different than you? Does it affect the way you view someone that you’ve never personally met?
While it may seem harmless, it’s important to realize that we might not know every detail about a story simply from hearing about it. The people reporting the news do their best to give us all the information that we need, but there’s often more to an event than the initial story can tell us.
We need to take into consideration the things we don’t know, and not jump to conclusions right away. There might be parts of a person’s life or experiences we have no idea about. We can’t assume that one person is a stereotype for an entire race, country, or group.
We need to be careful when we make up our minds on something based only on partial information. It’s important not to come to a conclusion until we have considered more points of view. Keep an open mind about what is unknown and try to always assume the best.
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3. Am I relying on the news to make me feel safer?
Knowledge doesn’t always equal security. Sometimes knowing the news facts can make us believe that we’re safe from whatever could come our way. The truth is we’re never guaranteed that our lives are going to be completely free of harm.
In fact, Jesus told us that we will face hardship and trials during this life (John 16:33). But we can have confidence in the fact that he has overcome this world through the cross. We can have peace in our lives knowing that no matter what happens, Jesus is bigger.
A good question to ask is: On a daily basis, am I taking in more information about events happening around the world than I am understanding more about who God is? Am I taking more time scrolling news stories on Facebook than I am in God’s Word?
No wonder we may struggle to find peace.
4. Am I letting one viewpoint shape how I think?
Do you have one regular news source that you rely on for everything? While it’s okay to have a favorite news source, sometimes it’s helpful to add a little variety when it comes to where we’re getting information.
We may not necessarily agree with every article or news story, but it’s healthy to hear other points of view.
We can learn a lot from how another person sees the world and the information they have to share. When we diversify our news sources, locally and nationally, we can become more well-rounded in our thinking and better educated about the world.
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5. Have I processed the news with Jesus?
With all of the information out there, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s so important to take what we’re consuming every day and ask Jesus to help us process it.
Karl Barth encouraged us to “take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” What a great word of wisdom!
Each day it’s critical that you’re telling Jesus how you’re feeling in prayer, then asking for his wisdom. Looking up Scripture is a crucial way to ease our minds and hearts when we need to know the Lord is in control. Again, interpret the news through the lens of what God’s Word says.
Like most things in life, the news isn’t all bad or all good.
But when the news begins to impact our joy, our relationship with Jesus and others, or our overall mental health, it’s time to take a step back and look at if being informed is helping or harming us.
May we learn to find the balance between our need for information and our overall health.
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Becky Weber is a wife, and mom to 4 kids. She loves to write and speak. She is a pastor’s wife in Sioux Falls, SD where her husband Adam is the lead pastor of Embrace Church. Her passion is to encourage others (especially women) to learn how to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. You can find more writing over at www.becweber.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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