Living Deliberately: Knowing When to Turn Off the News


Old village window

My landlord in Philadelphia once told me he and his wife had stopped watching the news years before, and that they’d never been happier. I was a nightly news watcher and Philadelphia Inquirer subscriber. I had no concept of how one might *not* watch the news. Isn’t not watching the news the equivalent of saying you don’t care about what’s happening in the world?

Then a couple years later, I moved to Italy. I didn’t speak much Italian, and as anyone new to the country can tell you, TV news and newspapers here are beyond frustrating for those already struggling with the language. So I started getting more of my news from the Internet, where I got to pick and choose buffet-style — and got out of the habit of the daily news broadcasts and newspapers. What a gift I had inadvertently given myself.

Turning off the news was a major turning point on my path to a simpler lifestyle.

Constant images of senseless death, cruelty, and crime can make it easy for someone to lose hope in humanity and build a large, impenetrable wall around them. For me, the lack of the news’ negativity injected into my routine has actually helped me change my basic approach to life.

Right around the time I moved to Italy, I realized that having a positive outlook in life is a choice. Yes, some people are lucky enough to be born that way, but I wasn’t, and my family isn’t full of “look on the bright side” kind of people either. But one of the greatest aspects of being human is that we have the ability to control our reactions to situations — and by choosing to focus on the positive, one small instance at a time, I’ve slowly adopted a whole different perspective than I used to have.

Of course I still have my cynical moments, but I more easily recognize them now, and I’m better equipped to overcome them more quickly than before. Turning off the news, interacting with kind neighbors and Internet friends, seeking out uplifting rather than tragic stories, and being mindful of who and what I allow into my life has made me calmer, more productive, and, I’d venture to say, a nicer person to be around.

Being selective about the news you absorb is a way of living deliberately and mindfully.

Instead of mindlessly listening to newscasters chatter away about one murder, rape, robbery, etc., after another, I now choose the news stories that enter into my life and to what extent; I can gauge for myself the time and space I need to process the information. Through this careful selection, I am more open to recognizing and appreciating the good in the world — and there is so, so much if you pay attention — instead of focusing on the bad. This holds true for world events as well as for simple, daily pleasures.

Consciously paying attention to the news has had another unexpected result: I feel even more connected with fellow humans around the world. I can delve deeper into the truly important stories (as determined by me), and I no longer have the “shiny object” syndrome that so many media outlets have. With fewer stories competing for my attention, I can harness and direct my energy toward issues that really matter to me instead of having my mind flit from one meaningless story about some reality show participant to another, filling up my head with people and stories I just don’t care about.


But then there are time like these when tragedy simply envelops us. My heart breaks, and my old habits try their best to kick back in. They push me to check news websites much more frequently, to keep refreshing the Twitter stream to learn the latest information. I want to know what’s going on every second of the day in Japan and Libya, in particular — as if just by paying attention, I’m somehow helping. A certain level of watching *is* helpful, of course, as it has also inspired me to act in my own small ways, but for me personally, there definitely can be too much of a bad thing.

Too much negativity around me makes me feel saturated, overwhelmed, impotent, and hopeless — and that doesn’t help anyone.

Yes, I have come to realize that I need to know when to say when. For me, all news must be done in moderation. As I trudged through work assignments this past week, my fingers felt like they were typing through mud; even when I’ve had the news tuned out, others’ suffering has never been far from my mind. And I never forget how lucky I am to have that choice to turn it off, try to tune it out, and deal with my own problems, so extraordinarily miniscule in comparison.


Steps near Chiesa dell'Immacolata, Badolato, Calabria, Italy

Steps near Chiesa dell'Immacolata, Badolato, Calabria, Italy

It’s important to remember as well that there are also plenty of inspiring stories out there even in the midst of tragedy, and with a positive outlook, I’m able to focus on those and strengthen my belief in the kindness and humanity of others. As tends to happen in catastrophe, the world has pulled together first through countless charities for Japan and more recently with the U.N.’s resolution invoking a no-fly zone in Libya.

There are also the amazing stories of individuals such as the brave souls *still* risking their lives at Japan’s nuclear reactors, working to prevent an even greater disaster, the courageous common folk in Libya fighting for their freedom against seemingly insurmountable odds, and the countless Libyans who have reached out to the rest of the world for help, knowing that even their putting their voice on Anderson Cooper 360 could sign their death warrants. Beyond inspiring.


And so back in the safe confines of my medieval hilltop village, I continue to try to balance living my relatively simple life with staying informed and involved with world events — and accept the fact that sometimes it means turning off the computer, going on a longer walk with the dogs, doing more yoga, and spending extra time with the goats. And writing more. Or less. Lately it’s been less, but hopefully that will change.

To those in the throes of these tragic events, I will continue to keep you in my thoughts — I couldn’t keep you out if I tried.

And for those who also feel such events deeply and struggle with finding a balance — I *know* I’m not alone in this quest — I wish you strength and luck in finding your way as you keep your caring eyes on world events but still continue to live your life, seek out small joys in your personal world, and most importantly, not feel guilty about doing so.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest turning a blind eye to others’ problems or forgetting for one moment about what’s happening around the world — not at all — but we must reach an appropriate balance in each of our lives. There’s no one right answer for everyone on how that can be achieved, but it is our responsibility to seek it out. And if turning off the news once in a while (or always) will help you get there, I hope you’ll consider doing so. That one action has been so very important in my journey toward simplicity and living with focus.

Each of us must be at his or her best to do the most good for ourselves and for others.

And for me, that’s impossible to achieve if I’m crying in front of a computer screen all day.

How do you find your personal balance when tragedies abound?

61 Beans of Wisdom to “Living Deliberately: Knowing When to Turn Off the News”
  1. I know this is a serious post and I absolutely agree with what you’re saying, but I have to ask: Can you hum the theme song to Channel 6 Action News right now?

    I was an NBC girl in Philly πŸ˜‰

  2. 03.21.2011

    I turned off the TV a long time ago. I think it was sometime after 9/11. I just couldn’t take anymore. There were so many negative images and I just kept seeing/hearing too much. I decided that unless it was something that would affect me personally, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it. Last year, it was the Iceland volcano that got my attention because my parents were supposed to fly in on the exact day Frankfurt closed their airport. (and they missed V’s birth!!) This year, I’m get the minimum info regarding Libya but I am paying more attention to Japan since I have a friend who lives there.

    Like you, I do think about others who are suffering and I try to seek out the good in times of tragedy, like relief efforts or the 4 month old baby that was found alive in the rubble in Japan.

  3. This is such an important post. I agree about saturation and over-saturation.Part of the problem is the 24-hour a day high-drama news cycle in the US, w/ the same hyped up news and images repeated hour after hour. It really is exhausting. Numbing. & keeps us in a state of constant anxiety.

    I take what I need from it then turn it off. For example, I watched the first couple days of Japan coverage, donated money, and realized that I was totally unprepared for a disaster even though I had lived through the an earthquake here in CA, & several near miss hurricanes in FL.

    So I did some shopping to be more prepared, reminded myself I wasn’t invincible, reminded my blog readers to be prepared ( ) & then had to let it go.

    I pray for the people of Japan but the news is now off. I scan news aggregators a couple times a day. Real quick. Oh, and speaking of living mindfuly, the author, Oriah, posted a beautiful, peaceful poem and a quick personal, calming meditation that I try to do daily. Maybe it’ll help your readers. I posted it here:

    You raise such good points.

  4. We just installed cable in our TV only four years after we relocated in Dubai. Our reason was purely about parenting (didn’t want then 3 year old to be poisoned by too much media) and now that we have TV, I refused to subscribe to a channel that broadcasts endless news (mostly bad, sometimes gory) from my birth country (Philippines). It drains me to hear those kind of news, I’d rather see it in the papers online, at least I can skip if the headlines already said it all.

    About Japan, since my husband is Japanese and I’ve lived there for more than 10 years, we couldn’t help but fix our eyes on the news right now. I’ve cried countless of times seeing the broadcasts and then one day, my daughter told me “Mom, we better not watch anymore because it’s too depressing and it makes me sad!”.

    I’ve limited watching the devastating news ever since. Or I watch it without her

  5. 03.21.2011

    We just got back from a 10 day cruise, and although there was CNN on the TV, we didn’t watch it much. Our bus driver in Dominica is the one who told us about Japan.

    I agree with you about the constant drumbeat of news. My second husband and I got rid of our TV the day after the Gulf War started, and didn’t have one for 5 years. It was a good experiment and might be worth doing again. Certainly there is a lot of junk on TV that doesn’t need to be watched. Even my favorite shows (which run towards the detective/legal/court side of things) aren’t really necessary and are certainly NOT positive.

    Thoughtful post, Michelle. Thanks.

  6. 03.21.2011

    Pier Paolo Pasolini once said that TV is an “authoritarian” device, transmitting its messages from above as if they were absolute truths. Pasolini despised television because he said people watching it had no voice, no way of replying.
    I have a 14-inch TV that quietly sits in a corner of my living room. It waits, full of hope, for me to turn it on. I never do.
    The only instances I turn it on are the same you described. It is, after all, still the most powerful media when it comes to direct coverage of breaking news. Other than that, it is only a source of anxiety and, frankly, I believe it drains my ability to process thoughts. I noticed that every time I watch TV I feel tired, unwilling to do any work or be positive.

  7. 03.21.2011

    Wonderful words of wisdom. It’s true. turn the TV off and peace will prevail.
    My husband likes to watch the news but even he some days will choose to just not turn his boob tube on. For what? more bad news that we can’t do anything about?
    I have a theory that each of us is well equipped to deal with the news from a small medieval village and no more. All the horrors that happen around the world every day is too much for any of us. We cope by becoming callused simply because it is too hard for any one of us to conceive of the amount of suffering and violence that can be found on our planet. Of course, I can’t keep my head in the sand for long, and before I know it, I am back, furious about this or that. That can’t be good for me, can it?

  8. Laura

    You speak my mind! I have stopped reading anything put out by the U.S. media, except for NPR. I see the headlines on Yahoo but if they have something to do with U.S. politics or any celebrity I try to stop before reading the whole headline. I read a small online newspaper written for ex-pats in Andalucia Spain, I read the headlines on the BBC and I read the Sojourners top-10 news stories that are e-mailed to me. That’s about it. After 9/11 I started each day with the NY Times in bed and read every single one of the “Profiles of Hope.” I had a friend killed in the WTC and I read until they posted his, which was one of the last. My therapist finally ordered me to stop reading the Times in bed! My filter is thin and when I read something I carry the pain, anger, anguish as if it were mine alone to bear. Thanks so much for this clear and affirming post.

  9. Joanna

    Are you reading my mind!?!?
    I cannot tell you how HARD it is for me to turn off the news, but I’m starting to do it. It’s particularly hard when one has friends all over the world who are living through stuff – Egyptian friends come to mind just now. The stories don’t end when they’re no longer trending in the news, so I have to chase them down.
    I was living 2 km from the WTC on 9/11/2001 and, wonder of wonders, my TV was broken that week. Oh, I saw TV at work that day and mine was fixed a week later, but I felt blessed that my mind didn’t get neuro-patterned with those images. Seeing them three or four times was more than enough. It was much more important to hear from all those friends around the world who e-mailed to say, “We are all New Yorkers!,” and to meet friends and strangers in the street with whom to commiserate. Once Bush started his war, I either read novels or pretended ‘West Wing’ was the real news. How crazy was that? (Now I find myself exhorting people to “Walk Like an Egyptian.”)
    After my long trip to the antipodes this winter, I got myself glued to 24 hr. Al Jazeera (better than the others), but today I got out and DID stuff. I’ll be rereading this post of yours often, Michelle. Thank you.

  10. Carol Lott

    Beautifully said! I will have to help my husband to wean himself from the news.

    At the gym, I watch the morning news without my earphones, and it can be just as unnerving. I love the food/cooking programs because of the happy endings.


  11. 03.21.2011

    Oh, yeah. Michelle, I totally agree on just about every level. And our news, here in Europe is less sensationalized as in the states. My brain was hurting over there a couple of weeks ago with the loudness and repetition and non-news. Plus the cookie cutter tv shows are just so stupid, that unless it’s Maher or Stewart, I couldn’t stand it. We still watch too much here, and I am becoming more and more aware of that. I want, to be honest, none of it. I struggle between *feeling* like I am staying connected while living the way I do and realizing I need about 10% of what I get to actually remain informed. The repetition is just mind-numbing. It makes me very edgy, which I notice as soon as I shut the idiot box off and go out to get some fresh air.

    Love the post. Love it.

    PS A well known German journalist/reporter quit the most well known German subsidized channel because he simply said that he could no longer report lies – lies about war, about who’s winning, about who’s ahead, about what the war activities actually are. I don’t think Germany is especially diabolical. I think we are fed lies that posed as Absolute Universal Truth all the time.

  12. The straw that broke my back was the whole *bunga bunga* episode. I was so disgusted and just incredulous that right then and there I decided – right, no more news about THAT topic. Now when I read the news online (or on the subway riding to work), I deliberately skip any story relating to Italian politics and politicians. I felt like something in my mind snapped and I just didn’t want to know anymore. I’ve been pushed to my limit and I have started picking and choosing what I read and what I ignore. At first, part of me felt like I was somehow not fulfilling some kind of social obligation, but I got over that.

  13. 03.21.2011

    This is a great post. As an expat I scan the news headlines online and *watch* once or twice a week, otherwise like you I get overwhelmed.

  14. 03.21.2011

    very well said Michelle! I’ve been doing the same thing for years, though you express it so much better πŸ™‚ I also stopped because I was “shoulding” on myself, wanting to keep on top of news in 5 countries I’ve lived in and another 5 I haven’t lived in but have family in – and then of course there are the tragedies that pull your attention away. It was overwhelming. Thought one new habit I had to make was to make sure to keep on top of local news, since when I turned the TV off and started choosing what I watched, I always went international and missed what was going on in my own city! Love this new direction you’re taking with your blog….

  15. 03.21.2011


    First of all and most importantly, Gooooooo Duke, all the way I say!!!!

    Secondly, I live in the states and have discovered this idea long ago.

    When I was raising three children in Napoli, Italy they had no TV and only had a movie once a week that we could get into the base at Agnano. The family unit was cohesive and intact; sports, outings, picnics, etc. When I knew we were coming back to the states I inherently knew this was going to change. It did. Only took 3 weeks of 1 TV in every room to destroy that family unity.

    In 1993 through some life changing events and decisions I ended up by myself as opposed to alone. I made the decision I was going to lead an active “realtime life”, not off a TV screen. Boy I got involved with church, community, the opposite sex (I am alone remember) and my 12 Step Fellowship. What a life, yes.

    Still today my new wife and I allow ourselves if we want, only one hour of TV today, CNN of course at 5PM…..I watched Wolf Blitzer grow up on CNN. We also watch many movies that neither of us ever saw or don’t remember (Come Back Little Sheba, Burt Lancaster). We only do that about 2 hours a clip. The rest of the time is doing those things life wants us to do.

    I believe this concept of living purposely is what has allowed my to have never seen the footage of 9/11…..5 of my closest friends and i formed a “prayer circle” and agreed to not watch any TV during that time. None of us has seen that footage. Did we miss anything? Don’t think so. Life did not significantly change for me at all as a result of that footage and I accomplished the only thing I thought would help, prayed for others.

    Wow. Eh Michelle, how bout picking a topic that I am not passionate about next time…..oh there aren’t any. I live in reality not out of a boooob tube….

    Thank you so very much, very very thought provoking, i love the concept.

    Mille Grazie,


  16. 03.21.2011

    michelle – this really resonates and hits home. i am right there with you. warmly, s

  17. Lucinda Keller

    Great post. You are right, it is about balance. I want to be informed but I realize when they start re-playing the same footage and are basically reiterating the same thing … I need to save some electricity & my sanity and turn off the tv. I think it’s weirdly addictive as well!

  18. 03.21.2011

    At the beginning of this year I made a conscious decision to watch less tv news and to restrict the sources I read online. To wit, I see about 20 minutes of CNN per day and I read the online front page of 4 or 5 newspapers most days. This was quite a reduction for me.

    At first I felt guilty about not keeping up with everything all the time. But now I’m beginning to look at the news with a more jaded attitude. I’ve decided that the ceaseless negativity of 24/7 news minutiae isn’t healthy. And that by limiting my exposure to it, I’m allowing myself to be more connected and productive in my daily life and personal relationships.

    I never would of predicted this outcome, but I’m finding it to be true for me. And I’m rather happy about it.

  19. Lark

    I thoroughly agree. I used to be a news junkie. I was a political science major in college and felt that I had to constantly follow the news to be a good student. After having 3 kids I just didn’t have time to watch the news as much and when I did, I frequently had to turn it off to protect my kids from some of the unimaginably horrific stories. Then I started realizing that it wasn’t good for me to be constantly be filling my brain with those stories. A little news is good for keeping informed, but I have found better ways to spend my time than focusing on misery. Thanks so much for your insight.

  20. 03.21.2011

    I agree with the above comments that while it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, this does not necessarily mean to know who has won the latest war.

    You know what’s interesting? people almost feels the need to apologize if they don’t watch TV. TV has become a requirement in modern world. TV is a big money machine, it’s often not democratic but it is actually not obligatory! Once you discover there are so many alternatives, you feel free, switching it off is wonderful. I love internet because I can choose. I don’t need to know all details of all violence in the world. I prefer to learn what’s good in the world and I find very little learning in that box.

  21. Claudia

    I have been a news junkie for decades – since my teen activist days feeling it is my civic duty to keep informed. But I am choosier these days. I crave balance, I want to help where I can and not stay awake nights when nothing I can do will cause a difference.

  22. 03.21.2011

    Thank you for putting many of my own thoughts into words. I watch and then get overwhelmed and stop. Then I watch again. But obsessive watching doesn’t really help anyone. I try to keep in mind there’s a difference between being educated and up-to-date about what’s going on (so I can make helpful choices or decisions or because some aspect big or small affects me personally) and being saturated out of some misdirected sense of responsibility or guilt.

  23. I stopped watching the news a year ago and am a very happy person because of it! I still watch Channel 6 Action News with Jim Gardner once in a while! πŸ™‚

  24. 03.22.2011

    I am appalled by how sensationalized the news is covering death and destruction. I am even more appalled by how quickly real news can be supplanted by celebrity news and unsubstantial issues. The news today seems to want to feed a “titillation” factor. The days of real news is long past.

    Sadly, much of the information coming from the news ignores the truly important and uplifting stories in favor of shock value and ratings.

    Even in the wake of the tsunami, I am seeing little to publicize how to help. It all seems to be gloom and doom to designed to eke a response out of a numb public who have been desensitized by the same media.

  25. 03.22.2011

    I second every word in that post. An excellent write up and worth spreading the word.
    I stopped reading newspapers long ago and now I have no patience to sit and watch the news. I realize that I live a better life than I used to. I am more productive, happy or atleast calm. I do not get angry like I used to before.

    Sometimes ignorance is bliss

  26. 03.22.2011

    Thanks for this. I blame the 24 hour news cycle for a lot – the sensationalism, the tone of politics in our home country. I like your sentiment, we keep the people facing such difficult times in our hearts, at the same time unless I’m prepared to get on a plane and do something, I also need to keep positive for the people immediately around me (ie my kids). It doesn’t help anyone to go down the vortex.

  27. 03.22.2011

    This is a very important post. Ten years ago when I did my first body cleanse, one of the conditions was a media hiatus for the 8 weeks of the program. It led to a much calmer state of mind and fertile ground for getting something done. I was still in the loop about what was going on through outlets of my own choosing, but I did not sit and stare at a machine for 60 minutes being barraged by other people’s ideas of what was important. We do not want to stick our heads in the sand, rather we want to be smart about being informed, keeping ourselves in good mental shape and then helping, meditating or praying for the safety and well-being of others. Well done!

  28. 03.22.2011

    A great post Michelle, like you I have learnt to know when to turn off the news. I think some of the coverage of recent events especially in Japan has been very obtrusive for those that are coping with so much suffering. The Japanese are very private people and the media is so insensitive, it annoys me!

  29. 03.22.2011

    Thanks for the thoughtfulness you put into writing this. You have described so clearly for me, my own evolving process of selecting the news online and being part of a blogging community…and particularly, the positive insight that comes from being selective and hearing the voices of thoughtful individuals like you.

  30. michelle

    Thanks so much to all who have shared their experiences and thoughts on this; your support is, as always, very much appreciated πŸ™‚

  31. 03.23.2011

    Everyone is raising such amazing points. I’m in college, and as you can imagine, it’s much harder to hear a consistent stream of news. And thank goodness for it. Not only does it allow me to focus on different issues, but it also allows me to focus on one issue at a time; the news has gotten so good at giving us one story after another, leading to a nonstop information flow of death and destruction– all while leaving us with few details about each one.
    Now, when I look for the news, I go to the New York Times. Not only I can read the stories I want, but I can get more information, so I don’t feel so overwhelmed.
    And since everything (or most everything, anyways) is constantly available through the internet, it makes the job of disconnecting that much harder.
    Imagine how different people could be if we unplugged for day a week!

  32. Gil

    My father had an old saying “once I’m gone don’t waste your time crying about me and visiting my grave spend your time with people that are still alive that you can do some good for” or something similar to that. I try to follow that. As far as local tv news it is just garbage for the most part and I turn it out. I like the tv news in Italy because I don’t know what they are saying!!!! Ha-Ha-Ha

  33. 03.23.2011

    Absolutely Michelle, so well put. 10 years I once shared a flat with a photojournalist who wouldn’t allow a tv in the house simply because there was enough negativity outside in her work & if she wanted to find out about a story she’d prefer to research and as you say ‘selectively’ find the news rather than listen to a circus. The peace was addictive, I’ve never had a TV since & for reading & listening to the news I simply keep up to date with columns or radio programmes online whose reporting I respect & value. We’re so selective in everything else,so strange that no matter what is spewed from the the box in the middle/corner of the room so many people just keep it on…

  34. 03.23.2011

    I really needed to read this post as I have slowly become so depressed about all that is going on around me. From now on I am going to limit and reduce the amount of news coming into my home. I’m hoping it has the same impact that it had on you. Thanks again for a wonderful message!

  35. 03.24.2011

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this one. Thank you for putting it out there so that I know I am not alone.

  36. 03.25.2011

    It’s hard to do that, though, until you’re out of school and out of a place that requires you to know popular news. It seems like, as a student, you have to constantly talk about things that are happening in the “real world.” In my science lecture, all anyone wants to talk about is Japan’s nuclear problems. In my Hindi class, all the teacher wants to converse about is the uprising in Libya and all. Maybe it’s that college teachers assume that students know about daily news or that they HAVE to be knowledgeable about the ‘real world’ they’re about to enter, but I wish I could do what you do. If I turned off the TV or didn’t read the headlines of the NY Times, though, I would feel even worse. I would feel like a bad student or an ignorant member of society. You’re right, though. Every rape, murder, and suicide doesn’t always have to be on my thoughts, and I hope to filter my choices in news articles too! Great advice!

  37. I loved this post and I agree. It’s interesting, the responses you get, when you tell someone that you don’t watch the news. Or that you didn’t hear the story “everyone” is talking about. I find that you can pick up where you left off – it seems as if the information is the same, just a different day.

    I like the lifestyle you describe and think more people really should consider living some form of it.

    Also – love the two photos in this post. Beautiful.

  38. Lovely and thought provoking post, Michelle! You’ve articulated very clearly something that I’ve been struggling with for years. I guess you could say that I’m the opposite … something inside me has always pushed away from the news. I have never been able to deal with the visual images of death, fires, murders and disasters. As I got older, I started to turn to the internet for information, but it has always been, like you described, on my own turns. Yet, I have to admit that I’ve always felt a little guilty. Like I should be watching more to be a better person or citizen. But I know that’s not true. Just because I’m not watching the news doesn’t mean I’m not informed about what’s going on, and even less does it mean that I don’t care. I think you’re right that we have to to the best for ourselves and for others, and for to do that does mean turning off the news.

  39. 03.26.2011

    I know what you are saying about turning off the news. I do not watch the nightly news as much as I used to-that is partially because I think the quality is not there. This is a dilemma you want to stay informed however there is a point of being saturated with negative information and it impacting your mental state.

  40. 03.26.2011

    Tv watching is not really a great way to get informed, usually the best information, especially when you are new to a country is to get it from the town’s folks. I don’t watch the tv and I honestly don’t watch or read the news, I know about the major disasters or important news because people are talking about it, but I really don’t care, I am just about myself and if they don’t concern me I don’t really bother.

    I know this sounds narcissistic, but I think it’s the best way, if I start concerning for other people troubles and hear about all the horrors that are happening in the world I think I would go crazy or something…

  41. 03.27.2011

    Well, I finally got over here. Hmmm. I don’t know what to say because I have to follow the news for professional reasons. And I used to write some of the news (the non-sensational kind but since it was nukes – power & arms – it was always part of the conversation.)

    What do I do for balance. I guess I should’ve thought about that before I started to type this comment. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

    I’m glad that people are able to think of other ways to stay involved, if they do. I have to say that in my experience people who say they’ve stopped watching (or reading) the news have pretty much tuned out totally. Utterly. They have no idea what I’m talking about & so we don’t really see each other anymore.

    Right now I’m watching basketball & petting the cat. πŸ™‚

  42. 03.29.2011

    This is something I haven’t quite yet mastered. I’ve found that it’s really difficult to strike that balance between being completely oblivious to the goings on of the world, and being weighed down by the hundreds of horrific stories I’m bombarded with throughout the day. After a certain point, it is pretty numbing to hear all of those stories. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, I got used to hearing all the time on NBC 10 about the latest shooting, etc. It truly scares me how desensitized to the violence you get from watching the daily news. Thank you, Michelle, for this inspiring post that reminds me to focus on what’s most important. Hopefully I can get to the point where I can turn off the TV, or shut my laptop, and just focus on the things that truly matter to me.

  43. 03.30.2011

    Beautifully said! My husband and I stopped watching the news a few years ago because the constant barrage of bad news was bringing us down. Since finally joining Twitter about 6 months ago I find that I get a lot of my news first hand there and also on the Internet, but like you, I feel that I can control the amount of news that I am getting. I feel like I stay informed this way without all the negativity that I felt I was subjected to on a nightly basis with the local broadcast news. The only thing I think I need to control more is when to turn off the computer because I have to admit that I am drawn to my online blogging community and sometimes it is just hard to disconnect. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this post. It is nice to know that we are not alone in turning off the nightly news.

  44. 03.30.2011

    “Γ‰crasez l’infΓ’me!” (or, “Just say no!”)
    To business that make their dollars from the Daily Woe.
    That’s all they are: bad stuff has always been miles-high,
    But, guess what: your eye is just that – _your_ eye.
    And you may turn it from where tragic scenes are spilt.
    The businesses who pump this stuff are simply preying on your guilt.

  45. 03.31.2011

    This post really resonates with me, especially in the wake of the tsunami and the events in Libya and the Middle East. My mother and I had a talk about mindfulness just last week and we worked on not letting our mind run out of control and from thought to thought by just listening to the sounds on our walk and then describing them in our minds. It is far more difficult than it sounds but a great activity in control and completely the opposite of being passive. When I visit my relatives on their farm in North Africa, I often think how they go about with their daily lives, quite simply I might add, and they are happy, fulfilled people. They also don’t bombard themselves with constant “news” 24/7 from tv, internet, radio, smartphones, etc. I lost my expensive smart phone about 2 weeks ago and despite it being an annoying financial loss, I have become much more aware of myself and thoughts. I no longer turn to my phone first thing when I wake up and read the or Huffington Post before I go to bed. What good does that really do? Thank you for this post.

  46. 04.02.2011

    I have not watched the news for a long time now .. might read the papers now and again.. but my husband watches the news and I always have to say to him “WHY do you watch the news , when it makes you so angry about stuff” ..STOP watching it!!! I limit myself to the internet now too, ie Facebook and I hardly tweet , just like reading it. I go out when sunny , I do the computer stuff at night.. I hardly watch TV prefer reading blogs etc ..

    But as you say , I am not ignoring the tragedies around the world … I know they are there , the last two sentences you wrote, is what I am trying to say. ?

  47. 04.03.2011

    I love this post, it speaks exactly to my beliefs about the news, etc. I too stopped watching the news years ago. When I tell people that, I get a lot of that reaction you mentioned, don’t I “care” about what’s going on in the world? But that’s just it, I care far too much. I’m sort of a sponge in the sense that I take in all those emotions, all the pain and suffering going on in the world, and I feel it, I suffer with it. So I had to shut it down, so I could be a productive member of society.

    So, like you, now I pick and choose when and where to go for news. I educate myself on the things I feel are important, and the rest of the time, I focus on making the immediate world around me better in any way I can. Helping locally, and staying positive.

    that said, like you, a large scale tragedy (like Japan) will pull me back in and I’ll sit and watch for far too long. Then I’ll remind myself that I’m not helping myself or anyone else by being in this funk…so instead I shut if off again, and pray.


  48. 04.03.2011

    you are SOOO right!!! one needs filtering in the world nowadays….so mcuh and so badly…its sad but its like this!mille grazie for this lovely article and happy spring in calabria:-)))sunny smiles from tulip land!

  49. 04.03.2011

    I’ve inadvertently stopped watching the news. It’s a by-product of having been on an 8 day silent retreat. I got really used to the silence and I loved it so when I came home, I stopped putting the TV and radio on. I occasionally listen to CDs in the car because I love music but often I drive in silence too.
    I don’t miss the news at all.
    This week, I realised that the silence wasn’t just about the absence of noise but the absence of information overload and that’s certainly something you get if you have the TV or radio on all day like I used to!

  50. 04.04.2011

    Your are living my fantasy…I’m sure you hear that a lot. Thanks for your work on this great blog.

  51. 04.11.2011

    i just read one of your comments which lead me to your website, which i love. your comment about the onions ( probably mis-spelled) was great, and clever. nice to meet you and your blog. i am off to our place in 2 days, i miss italy and can’t wait to get back. ciao! love this post btw…

    Thank Annette; hope you make it back here as well πŸ™‚

  52. 04.12.2011

    What a gift -turning off the news! I grew up without a TV and definitely appreciate your article! Wonderful blog!

  53. Irene

    I am so happy to see your writing grow over time. I shall be stopping by more often, then…

    Always happy to have you here, Irene πŸ™‚

  54. 05.11.2011

    Thank you for your comment, it was a nice surprise. πŸ™‚

    Your blog was a wonderful find!

    Thanks so much Tess; looking forward to getting to know you better πŸ™‚

  55. Austen

    So very true! As a “news” addict, I can feel the pain brought on by the horrors worldwide. And I know that adding my pain to the pile will not help others one bit but only take away from my ability to care for those I love.
    (Also wanted to be the first “Guy” responder! I love the way you are taking the blog: life wisdom mixed with personal vignettes and a “deep” flavor of Italy. Now I have a broader range of friends to pass your items on to now and then.)

    Thanks Austen — and thank you for sharing my blog with others πŸ™‚

  56. Austen

    I am happy to say that you inspired me to start down a news-less path.
    1. I now discard the front section of the newspaper, and head for the comics (although I still find news-based comics!0
    2. I keep the news off in the car: am rediscovering some CD’s that have gotten pushed to the back, and enjoying my drives more.

    So: not cold turkey, but 2 steps to getting there, and feeling better for it.

    michelle Reply:

    That’s wonderful, Austen; so glad to hear you’re feeling better for it!

  57. 10.06.2011

    I just stumbled onto your blog while researching for inspiring articles for my FB Page “The Joy of Living Deliberately.” Not once but twice and this particular article simply touched home as I too refused to be dragged into negativity by all the saddening news. Most which I can’t do anything about. Like you, I pick and choose what I want to read and life is so much peaceful.

    I will be sharing this article on my page and hope it will help others find their own peace in their own spaces to achieve the joy of living. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know, Wendy; best of luck with your FB page and other ventures πŸ™‚

  58. 06.28.2012

    Michele, I love reading your blog and want you to know that what you write always strikes a cord with me. I really hope to meet you one of these days.
    Nedra Bottieri
    Village Vacations In Italy

    michelle Reply:

    Thanks so much, Nedra; hope to meet you too!



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Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
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