To say that I am now entirely worry-free would be on overstatement. But I do feel better, in a sense that I can think positively again (for a few days last week, I could not). What has changed? I have made a decision not to open my social networks, and not to read news.
Media is people communicating with each other through technology. And right now coronavirus seems to be one thing the global community is talking about all the time. It’s very understandable: the situation is constantly evolving, it’s scary, and there are many different opinions about it. I don’t think that people who are filling the infosphere with all sorts of statements and questions about coronavirus are irresponsible or “too much”. Even if their statements end up being refuted. Even if some questions lead nowhere. In general, the more people can share their opinions and ask for answers without shutting each other down, the better.
But there is one important thing to remember. The global community communicating about... well, anything - is like a humongous hall filled with people who are all talking at the same time. Some have megaphones (big media companies and influencers) others don’t. Some intend to be heard by as many listeners as possible, others target smaller communities. Some speakers are honest as they are trying to figure things out and share what they know; others (just a handful, I believe) want to confuse and mislead.
The fact that all these voices reverberate through the hall of our global village is very natural and good. People need to communicate. And we want as many people as possible to be able to participate in any exchange of ideas.
It’s ok to visit this hall once in a while, to walk around it trying to hear different voices and compare what they are saying. It is certainly even better to do some systematic research and critical analysis in order to find order in the loud chaos (#medialiteracy).
But beware: the more time you spend within this space (no matter how much critical thinking your exercise) the more overwhelmed you will feel. It’s too loud, it’s too much. Don’t be surprised if your head will begin spinning and aching, or if you start feeling anxious and then depressed. After all, you are in the midst of people trying to talk over each other, sharing their fears and concerns, arguing and blaming. Attempts to make sense of this large-scale conversation can be emotionally and intellectually draining.
I think there is a cure: moderation of information. I have learned my lesson, and after having overdosed on this communication for a few days in a row I have put myself on a strict information diet. Informational quarantine, if you will. It feels so good.
I will certainly be back to that noisy hall because I do want to listen and participate. (Darn, I am adding to the cacophony right now by writing this!). But I am promising myself to be more careful.