August 18, 2016
Impact Account Executive Nikki D’Aleo recently penned this op-ed for the Poughkeepsie Journal, in light of the onslaught of negativity in our news cycle.
Je suis sad. Je suis numb. Je suis tired of Je suis-ing.
A friend of mine shared the following Tolkien quote on social media in the wake of the Nice terrorist attack and it brought me a bit of comfort: “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
— from The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954
In times like this, we lament with phrases such as, “What is the world coming to?” or “This is certainly a scary world” and perhaps as far as to suggest, “The world’s going to Hell in a handbasket.” The truth is, the world has always been a scary place (just think: Middle Ages), and elder cave men probably looked at the younger generation with the same kind of fear and pity that we apply to our own offspring.
What the world hasn’t always been is accessible, and that makes all the difference.
I wonder what Tolkien would have thought of a world so connected — both beautifully and devastatingly — that there is no escaping the peril. I don’t believe we are equipped to cope with the level of trauma we all experience (secondhand, usually, hopefully) through our newsfeeds and news outlets. At least, I’m not equipped. It’s as if the lump in my throat doesn’t bother to go down anymore. I feel an incredible urge to disconnect, to abandon my phone, my laptop, my desktop, my tablet — all of it — and retreat with my family to a remote cabin in the woods.
The images and headlines lie in ambush in our newsfeeds, sandwiched between a baby propped up next to a sign that reads “Six Months Old Today” and a filtered photo of a steak and its wine pairing. We gasp, look away, and scroll as fast as possible from the news we instantly regret reading. But isn’t the damage already done? We can’t “unsee” the things we unwittingly saw.
And the irony, of course, is that this piece will ultimately appear on social media and inevitably be shared, passed along and pop up in other people’s newsfeeds without them really asking for it. This fact is not lost on me. Maybe I’m still holding out hope that the tide will shift and these tools that have the power to connect the human race and make us stronger will do just that. Maybe one day my newsfeed will mainly consist of growing babies and artsy sirloins.
Back in February, Poughkeepsie Journal Executive Editor Stuart Shinske penned an op-ed in which he pledged resources and attention to be given to the “good” news, reiterating that it, too, is in demand. We owe it to ourselves, to our mental well-being, to highlight and showcase the good that exists and give it preference over the bad. Even better, let’s challenge ourselves to do things in our communities that are worthy of coverage. I wonder if we could live our lives in that spirit, without needing a tragedy to propel us forward toward doing good. After all, haven’t we had enough fodder to inspire a lifetime of good deeds?