The next morning, as we drove home, the radio news revealed how grim the previous day had, in fact, been: rebels had shot down a passenger plane over Ukraine and hostilities had escalated in Gaza.
The following day, I left the BBC 24-hour television news on in the background, while I finished unpacking and settling back in at home. As the day wore on, they began to release the names of the crash victims, along with their photos and life stories. With every fresh piece of information, the knot in my throat tightened and I felt closer to tears. Eventually, I could take no more and turned the television off.
|Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/|
Many a tragedy has sent me into a frenzy of ordering: from the shooting massacres of Dunblane and Utøya, to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the London bombings. Although natural disasters may bring a higher death toll, I find myself more affected by instances of man's inhumanity against man.
Apparently, the reason for my distress is that the mind can't distinguish between direct threats and distant ones, hence, it makes no difference that I am not in immediate danger myself.
On this most recent occasion, it was hard to tell whether the reported events made my compulsions worse, as reclaiming my territory after a holiday has the same effect. Switching off the saturation coverage at that point was the right thing to do, though, to minimise the risk.
This same news channel has a viewer feedback show and, that week, some complained about the reporting of the crash, which showed body parts and passengers' personal belongings. The director explained that such footage was necessary to bring out the story's human side and to convey the horror of the incident. The viewers' response was that you didn't need to see charred limbs to appreciate the consequences of a plane crash. I agree; coverage can go too far.
|Image courtesy of Gualberto107/|
While I don't subscribe to one colleague's approach, of never watching the news, there is no harm, or shame, in occasionally switching off from the world outside, whether literally or metaphorically. No news is sometimes good news, at least for your mental health.