As with many tragedies, the explosions that occurred Monday at the Boston Marathon left people in a state of shock. Innocent people were targeted during what should have been a time of joy and achievement, and the reason behind the explosions remains unknown.
Easy access to internet and citizen journalists helped the news spread quickly, including graphic videos and photos of victims. The news often emphasizes misfortune during times like these because shock grabs people’s attention.
Do you ever just get an uneasy feeling after watching bad news on television for a while? According to Medical News Today, a study found that some people can be significantly affected by traumatic news they didn’t actually experience but only watched on television, and may even display characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is a high correlation between the amount of television someone watches about a particular event and the likelihood that they will be affected by it.
While death and devastation should certainly not be downplayed or ignored, it is important to focus on the positive that emerges during tragedies as well.
Social Media’s Influence on News
Social media has been helping people accomplish that. Twitter hashtags such #BostonHelp and #BostonStrong have been trending to show support for those affected, and a quote by Fred Rogers (you probably know him from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) has been spreading around Facebook and Twitter:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Focusing on the helpers during unhappy times can prevent us from dwelling only on the negative and feeling helpless. We need to remember that while there are people who do terrible things, there are also many more people who have come together to encourage and help those in need.
Stay Informed and Supportive without Fixating on a Sad Event
Because the study found a positive correlation between the amount of television viewed about an event and the likelihood of a person being significantly affected, a suggestion might be to read a summary of what took place and then move on rather than continuing to read/watch every single update that is given. This way you are staying informed of current events but you are trying not to let them consume you.
Another suggestion is to search for the positive stories in the news and read those as well. While upsetting stories do come up frequently, there are also many inspiring stories out there. The positive stories you read could be about anything from good deeds to accomplishments, as long as you find them pleasant. This article about acts of kindness during the Boston Marathon explosions is an excellent example of looking for helpers.
I think that stories of people who act sincerely out of the goodness of their heart can leave us with a sense of hope and happiness. They remind us that no matter how much negativity we encounter in the world there will always be more people with good intentions.
Do you think that there are too many traumatic news stories compared to uplifting ones, or are they necessary? Is there any way to stay informed of current events without being affected by them?