The first thing I do every morning is reach for my phone and look at the news. The major newspaper sites and the ABC mostly. I digest what’s happened over night while I drink a cup of tea and then I go exercise while listening to more news on ABC radio.
I inhale the news all day every day. I always have.
Until a couple of months ago when I stopped.
I’m not sure what made me turn away but the compulsion to do so was so deeply embedded in me that I couldn’t help it.
It’s been a year of bad news – is there any other kind when you’re talking about professional news organisations? Good news is so much harder to sell. “If it bleeds, it leads” goes the newsroom cliché.
And this year there has been a river of blood, real and figurative. From the brutal firing squad executions of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the inquest into the Lindt Café siege, the deliberate crashing of the Germanwings jet, the lifeless body of a 3 year old refugee washed up on a beach, the Paris terrorist attacks, the ISIS beheadings, the daily scourge of domestic violence, the incomprehensible murder of Tara Brown by her partner as she lay injured in her car, the stabbing murder of Masa Vukotic by a deranged stranger as she jogged in a suburban park and on and on and on and on. Click, watch, read, listen, recoil, digest, trauma. Repeat.
The news cycle has been one of horror this year and perhaps I reached saturation point. Perhaps you did too because I’ve heard the same sentiment from many people. Many of us are turning away from the news.
It hasn’t just been the blood and the tragedy. It’s been the fear-mongering, the outrage, the emotional manipulation by politicians like Tony Abbott and Donald Trump who have appealed to the ugliest underbelly of societal attitudes towards minorities in a bid to make it seem like they are the only ones who can protect us. Tony Abbott talking about ‘death cults coming’ to get us and demonising refugees. Donald Trump demonising everyone who isn’t a rich, middle-aged white man.
As some stage, I decided to turn away from that and towards something else. Towards nuance and positivity and optimism. Towards Malcolm Turnbull who shocked everyone out of our defensive crouch by announcing that there’s never been a more exciting time to be alive or to be an Australian.