Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Motherly Law: Time to stop consuming the news

I hate to read these stories of tragedy, picture the evilness unfolding and see the happy, smiling photos of the now murdered, missing or broken. And yet, I read these stories…

I used to watch the news on TV. Then, I moved on to reading the news online. And then I stopped altogether. I listen to Minnesota Public Radio for local breaking news. I check for weather updates. I see bits and pieces and links to news in tweets. And I read The Week magazine back to front for news from around the world.

Last night when I was thinking about what I was going to write about this week, I decided to check a national news website for inspiration. I found out that a teenage boy had been lured to a home by other teenagers and viciously murdered in Florida. I learned that a young, female, real estate agent in Iowa was found shot in a model home and later died at the hospital. I read about a mom and her daughter who were found murdered in their apartment in New York. One story always leads to another similarly bloody, terrible story. I saw a headline about a bomb and a mall and a suspect in Colorado, and then I left that site.

I decided that the local news must be better on Easter Sunday. On a local Twin Cities news site, I read about a girl in critical condition who was accidentally shot by her father when his gun jammed while shooting targets and he was attempting to fix it in the home. I found out a woman was sexually assaulted while jogging early Saturday morning in an up-scale suburb. And then, I remembered why I stopped reading the news.

Irrational, but Comforting Reasoning

I hate to read these stories of tragedy, picture the evilness unfolding and see the happy, smiling photos of the now murdered, missing or broken. And yet, I read these stories… every single one I see a headline for or hear about and look up online. I read these stories searching for any detail that I can find to set me and my family apart from the victim of the story. I read these stories to know how the person attacked, taken or killed came to be in this situation.

If they live in a different area of the country or live in a bad neighborhood or run with the wrong crowd or are involved in drugs or commit crimes or have relatives who did these things or work in risky industries or this or that then they are not like me and these things won’t happen to me. Irrational? Yes, but it gives me a bit of peace while I try to protect my family from the wolves of this world.

And what if they are not unlike me? What if I can relate to these victims? What if the crime occurred too close for comfort or happened to a mom, a dad, a kid or a whole family? Then, I scour the article for details spelling out exactly how this crime occurred so that I can try to ensure I’m never in this situation or so that I can warn my kids to never do this or always do that, etc.

An Intense Imagination

These stories fuel my imagination, are forever burned into my mind’s eye and tug at my heartstrings. Until I became a mom, I could handle it better. It always bothered me, but there were years that I watched all the crime shows and TV news magazine shows, like Dateline and 48 Hours. I was consumed by these issues during law school years and when I worked in the courts, but often it was not hard to differentiate myself from the persons involved in these violent crimes.

I tend to be an empathetic, passionate, analytical person and these traits have only become sharper with the births of my Darling Boys. If you aren’t an intense, passionate, type-A personality you’re probably shaking your head, perplexed by my paranoia, or laughing at my methods; and that’s OK. As the saying goes, to each his own. But if you are like me, you know what I write of.

The Scoop

I send up prayers of sadness and hope for the aforementioned people and their families. I send up prayers questioning why these horrible things must happen. I send up prayers of thankfulness that my family has safely made it through another week.

For now, I’m going to stick with MPR and The Week for my news and shield myself from these horrendous stories. Am I alone in these thoughts and feelings; or can you relate?

This post was written by  Anna Berend and originally published on Motherly Law.