I have been reading the news again for the last several months, checking the headlines on the NPR and NYT apps on my phone first thing and whenever I had a spare second, and reading several articles a day. It was becoming a new addictive behavior— instead of checking every ten minutes for “likes” on social media, I checked for breaking stories or interesting articles— something to take my attention off of whatever was happening in my life that was boring or uncomfortable.
I decided to fast from media last week. I was getting more and more freaked out every day by what was happening in the world and what could happen. I wasn’t responding to this pain by praying more for those suffering or for my own soul, and I wasn’t propelled to any action except more scrolling and tapping and information consumption. I knew this wasn't healthy or helpful.
It was a good fast, and it felt like a burden was being lifted as I took a break from knowing. What a relief to trust that praying the Psalms and the prayers of the Church would be appropriate for all of the things happening in the world (and in my own soul), whether I was aware of the details or not.
On Monday morning when I opened up the NPR app again, I did it with a sense of obligation and a little dread. Had I missed another shooting? Did any shenanigans take place at the Democratic Convention? I didn’t want to know. I scanned the headlines and closed the app, and have hardly checked it since.
There have been times when I chose to live without the news in my life. There have been times when the only news I received and articles I read were shared by a few trusted Facebook friends. I’m not sure what useful, mindful consumption of the news looks like for me now. Can I read it prayerfully? Or, given my temperament, is it best to simply strive to pray faithfully for the world without knowing the details, trusting that the Lord sees and knows and hears, and will bring to my knowledge the things that are needful?
PS. Something I must admit is that when I wasn’t checking the news, I started checking my weather app compulsively. 86 degrees and sunny? Okie doke. Ten minutes later…Oh, nice— 87 degrees and sunny now, right-o. What’s it going to look like at 10pm? How about on Thursday? Any tornado warnings coming up? My poor, trained, monkey mind.