What I don't know

One thing I notice when we leave home for a trip is how much is going on in the world that I am generally clueless about.

While traveling I scan newspaper headlines in the gas stations, the TV might be on at places we visit, and I meet different people who are "in the know" media wise.

I catch a lot more than what I can learn about the world living in the woods.

With the internet I've been able to selectively screen my media. For better or for worse.

I've never been a big media consumer, but recently my mass media consumption seems to be dipping to dangerously low levels. (Dangerously low because, what if I lose touch with the world completely?)

I haven't watched TV, as a regular past time, for many years. I sometimes watch TV when staying with other people but I find it mostly boring and I am so annoyed by the advertising that I just give up.

And now that Damien has hooked us up with a VPN I can stream the TV shows I might want to watch (all 2 of them) through our US Netflix account, Canadian Netflix is pathetic.

My mom and I enjoyed watching Call the Midwives together last week. But watching TV shows on Netflix is more of a vacation activity than an everyday occurrence.

I used to regularly listen to the radio. NPR was a nearly constant companion in my kitchen work.

And then we moved. First, we lived with my parents and our media consumption that summer changed to television with some CBC radio. I was re-introduced to The Vinyl Cafe, but overall my radio listening went down.

And then we moved to Quebec.

At this point my mass media consumption plummeted from low to nearly non-existent.

I think this happened mostly because there was a lot of change going on in our lives and one way to deal with this was to tune out extra noise. But the other reason for tuning out the media in my life was because of living in a different culture. All the "everyday media" - the billboards, road signs, newspaper, magazines at the checkout stand, flyers in the mail - all in French.

And I couldn't read any of it, not easily at least, so I tuned it out.

I stopped listening to the radio too. I'm honestly not sure why. Perhaps I didn't realize that I could get English radio here in Quebec. I can.

However, when I started listening to CBC radio again this past year I was shocked to realize (I must have forgotten what news stories were like) that I couldn't listen to the news with the kids. Way too much rape and murder, discussed in graphic detail completely inappropriate for children.

I don't want to hear that either, I have a visceral response to certain horrors.

So when we're in the mood we listen to the human interest stories, the science programming, some arts and culture stuff and turn off the news.

As a household we're not entirely clueless about happenings in the wide world because Damien follows a couple online news feeds. If world disaster or economic collapse is imminent I won't be totally surprised. But even if I was, why would it matter if disaster is imminent?

The only media I have consistently consumed for the past few years is my RSS feed. But after months of mounting blog-reading frustration I quit RSS a couple weeks ago.

I can no longer identify with a lot of the blogs I used to follow and I haven't yet found new blogs I can identify with. So I've just stopped and occasionally I visit my absolute favorite blogs, which are but a handful.

I'm not a Facebook junkie either. Some people get their news from Facebook. If I happen to be there and I notice a news story in friend's feed I might click through to read, but what I notice most on Facebook is news gossip. Gossip mostly about famous people who I am simply clueless about and choose to remain clueless about.

I don't want to know which scantily clad young singer is raising a ruckus. Why would I care about this? And no, I don't need to know "how to talk to my teenage daughter about so and so..." because that's not her world either.

It's not that we're hermit cave dwelling folks. It's just that we can pick and choose what we want, and because of this I find myself relating less and less to mainstream media.

I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing because sometimes not knowing feels isolating. But at present I don't have a lot of motivation to change this reality because of what I've observed in the past couple years of "not knowing".

Here's a few things I've observed as I've stepped back from mass media consumption:

The world goes on without my knowing about all its comings and goings.

I've largely tuned out to the big-picture political and economic news stream and guess what? It's still there. It hasn't missed my absence.

When I do tune in, say at an airport, where the corner TVs are blasting messages of doom and gloom and high alerts, while other news stories scroll in red across the bottom of the screen, I see the same stories I watched on my last trip through an airport - economic crisis, wars, bloody massacres, suffering.

And when I observe, as a sensitized outsider (you become de-sensitized to those messages if you watch them day-in, day-out) I pick up on the main message immediately.

The message is fear. Everywhere. Terrorists, neighbors, Muslims, Christians, the drinking water, the air we breathe - all of it. Be afraid.

I'm not a media wizard but I imagine there must be some way to communicate bad news without all the fear.

There is bad news in the world. So, so much of it. My heart aches, when I let down my barriers, with the weight of all the suffering. The world has always been this way. The more I read of history the more I see, unfortunately, how very little we've "advanced".

These stories must be told - somewhere and somehow. But the way they are told currently seems like fear mongering more than solution finding. The majority of the energy seems to be spent in raising alarms instead of raising awareness and then action around issues.

Next to fear, and maybe because of fear, the next message is want and lust. And not just sexual, but lust of things and security and power.

I am not free from want in my life. But without a stream of slick magazines in the door, slick blogs in my reader, slick ads on the TV, slick stories on Facebook, and slick boards at Pinterest my wants are less dictated by media. (I read a most fascinating story in a newspaper last week about bridezillas who are demanding payment from wedding guests to fund their Pinterest "inspired"over-the-top nuptials.)

I am blessed with an abundant life of food in the fridge, a roof over our heads, and regular travel and adventure. There's not much more "stuff" I want.

This is what I wish: I wish there was a way to be informed about the world (so I can be a "good citizen") without everything else that comes with it. I am wired with a desire to make things right and a propensity to anxiety.

I have to be careful about what I watch and listen to because fear and overwhelm can induce paralysis instead of the action required to solve a problem. I imagine I'm not the only person like this.

It's not that I want to stick my head in the sand either, oblivious to child labor while wearing cheap clothes made in Bangladesh. Or remain unaware of climate change while consuming more and more fossil fuels.

I really enjoyed Erin McKittrick's most recent book Small Feet Big Land: Adventure, Home, and Family on the Edge of Alaska for this reason. She always raises my environmental awareness in an engaging story, non-mass media way.

As for awareness of human rights issues (stories about child soldiers, slaves and other abuses to women and children) I can't read most of those stories because of how distressing they are to me.

And it's not that I'm opposed to advertising either. I like learning about new things that might be useful or helpful to me but we live in a society of too much. And how do you sell in society of too much, a society where people don't really need a new dishwasher, stove, car, couch, or TV? You create fear and want. Fear and want. Fear and want.

As a blogger, I am a part of the media stream and I ask myself, how am I contributing to this cycle?

I have no answers to these wonderings of mine. Just observations and questions.

Questions mostly about how to be a good global citizen without taking on the weight of the world (which is not mine to bear). Questions about how to be a good local citizen when I can't easily read the news, even if I want (this is teaching me some great lessons about the importance of literacy). Questions about how much or how little is reasonable to let into my life and into the safe world I have tried to create for raising our children. Questions about my role as a writer and consumer.

I know this though, I feel increasingly critical in my evaluation of what the media is communicating - how and why they communicate the stories they do (and those they don't). I feel increasingly critical of what I'm communicating.

Like I said, no answers, just thoughts and questions.

What are your concerns about media? How do you stay informed (without being crushed by despair) to make thoughtful decisions in your daily actions?
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  • Misti

    Misti on Oct. 22, 2013, 2:20 p.m.

    One of the biggest things about being on the AT was the lack of media. We walked into a hostel in Tennessee one morning for their sweet breakfast (Mountain Harbor---you must stop there!) and to wait out some morning rain and in the background the tv was on. While we weren't focused on it at first the next thing we knew they were talking about airplanes being rerouted and this and that and our intial thoughts were '"What happened now?"  Turned out to be a volcano had erupted in one of the northern European countries and had created enough smoke to become a problem for flying. Never would have known. And then the BP oil spill happened and every now and then when we came into town we'll continue hearing about it, thinking "They haven't fixed it yet?" as months went by. Gossip rags were always the worst to see at a resupply. Blech. 

    These days I tend to get my news on NPR or the internet, bypassing most tv stations.


  • Aaron

    Aaron on Oct. 22, 2013, 2:25 p.m.

    You are in no danger of losing touch with the world. You and your family are more in touch with the world than the most dedicated news junkie. Mind, I mean the real world and not the plastic version we're asked to believe in. You're hoplelessly out of touch with the plastic world, and better off for it. But the world of living things, of water and earth and air, of seeding and growing and harvesting and fallow seasons, of love and sorrow, life and death and resurrection - that world you're perfectly in touch with.

    The only unreality you seem to enter is going online to blog and let us all have a peek at the real world, but I'm too selfish to suggest you stop doing that.


  • Angelia

    Angelia on Oct. 22, 2013, 2:35 p.m.

    Renee - I can relate to everything you just said....except for the French parts:)

    We enjoy the worldmag.com podcast "The World and Everything in It".....M-F with a longer week-in-review on the weekend.  My husband likes downloading everyday to his ipod and I tend to go for the week-in-review.

    Our three sons and I were recently stranded in an airport for an entire day.  I found the whole screen at every turn thing so disturbing.  Conventional new brings me down:)

    Hope you had a refreshing time with your family.....love your blog.  You always help me understand myself a little better.  I am not very "wordy" and yours are a blessing to me.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 22, 2013, 9:14 p.m.

      Thank you Angelina for the kind words and the news link.


    • christyb

      christyb on Oct. 23, 2013, 5:13 a.m.

      I came to comment about World Magazine, and found somone had already talked about "The World and Everything in it" - how lovely!   With World mag, I still skip some of the stories that I might find hard to read, but I can be sure each story is always handled in a thoughtful way, even the hard ones.  I don't always entirely agree with the magazine, but I agree that looking at the world through the knowledge and lens of truth will always trump sensationalism and fear-mongering.  I haven't read a "real" newspaper in years.


  • Michelle

    Michelle on Oct. 22, 2013, 2:48 p.m.

    First of all, I love the Vinyl Cafe. Stuart is a great storyteller. Since we moved to the country we don't get the newspaper. I get my news from CBC.ca and even there I screen what I read. If the header says "warning, explicit detail..." then I definitely do not click on it. Why bring those images into my mind? I simply just don't. I hear what you say about listening to the news in front of the kids. Their minds simply don't need to be bombarded with that stuff. I struggle, like you, about what I should be aware of and what just doesn't need my attention. I used to be somwhat in the know and now I am not at all. Does it matter? I don't know.


  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on Oct. 22, 2013, 3:03 p.m.

    Fear and want, definitely. I don't consume almost any news, except what my husband emails me, usually 5-8 news links a week.  I used to just delete them because they were so low priority for me, but a lot of what he sends me (now, since he knows I'll delete the others!) is human interest stories or the like. We have netflix, but have never had cable. We have one TV and it's hidden in an armoir. I can't remember the last time I watched tv while the kids were awake. 

     I do like listening to NPR's "On Being" with Krista Tippett. I really like her voice and her guests range from all avenues and professions in life. It's a podcast that she does once a week about spirtituality and culture. I enjoy those interviews. It is also much more uplifting than draining, too. Have you listened to that before? 

    I was recently reminded of how amazing the internet really has become with an incident that happened at my old high school a few weeks ago. The school was on lockdown and the surrounding elementary schools were put on lockdown, too, for safety reasons. Even though I am two hours behind, and 1800 miles away, I found out before my friends who had kids in those schools knew anything was wrong, simply by the news I happened to see online. That was crazy. 

    Sarah M


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 22, 2013, 9:16 p.m.

      I love Krista Tippett's On Being and have mentioned it several times on the blog over the past couple years. I subscribe to her newsletter so I'm alerted to any new interviews (sometimes they are re-runs).


  • Kika

    Kika on Oct. 22, 2013, 3:38 p.m.

    I HATE the news but also dislike feeling in the dark. I don't listen to the radio either so if there's a local oil spill, evac, or something I don't hear about it unless my husband calls or I happen to see something on FB. I Do like articles about issues I am particularly passionate about even though of course these can be unsettling or even create a fear response-but I don't want to stick my head in the sand and refuse to address hard and complicated issues. I guess I just prefer being more selective as opposed to being bombarded by negativity or consumerism presented by mass media. I do want to figure out a method of regularly doing a quick check of international/local issues... perhaps a weekend thing as mentioned by a previous commentor. My husband does follow the news but rarely discusses it with me unless I first ask questions. 


  • Brenda Nuland

    Brenda Nuland on Oct. 22, 2013, 3:40 p.m.

    I came over from a link on ummm... Facebook.  With Google Reader no longer around, I find it so much easier to subscribe to new-to-me blogs on Facebook.  I think your link ws through beauty that moves.

    Anyway, my daughter and her family have chosen to have no connection in their home except Netflix.  Her children are now ages three through eleven.  My eyes were open when they visited in May and I let them watch the "children's" channels.  I could not believe the commercials on those stations.  My daughter has told me the first problem they noticed long ago was with the commericals when my son-in-law watched his favorite sports events... and these are watched most of the time by families.

    I heard someone say recently that it has been a very long time since we could let our kids watch TV without us around, and that back then the stations (in the USA at least) all ended their day with a sermon.  You have given me much to ponder.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 22, 2013, 9:19 p.m.

      Brenda - welcome! And however you arrived I'm happy for it. I know, tv is not what it used to be (smile).


  • Carol

    Carol on Oct. 22, 2013, 4:09 p.m.

    I have the same concerns.  I find the lack of depth and information offered by the news channels shameful.  They all feel the need to talk about events when it is too fresh to know anything and don't seem to follow up with facts and figures or useful information.   Thank you for expressing this so eloquently as usual.




  • Julie

    Julie on Oct. 22, 2013, 4:14 p.m.

    I have thought about this a lot because I don't like much media, but I STRONGLY believe in political engagement, and in raising kids who are knowledgeable about the world and realize that democracy depends on people participating in the political system.  For me, I think knowledge of certain current events ties into my kids' study of history -- we are living history right now and I want them to know that.  Everyday, decisions our politicans make and places our tax dollars go to are impacted by world events -- it's importand for me that my kids (who are teens, I'm not talking about little kids) know this.  My 15 year old read Guns, Germs and Steel this year, and watching and listening to her make connections between what she read in that book about the development of societies with what was happening today was wonderful.  She became very interested in what was going on in Syria, and how the US government should respond (we are American), and really realized that who we vote into office, what we communicate to our elected representatives, etc., makes a difference not just here but worldwide.  To me, that's important --- I want my kids to have a depth of knowledge about politics so they don't just respond knee-jerk to the latest internet rumor about what a law or policy means.

    We don't watch any local news at all -- to me, that is primarily about the latest crime of the day.  But we listen to a lot of radio, which is available online now.   For a global perspective, with intelligent news-gathering and reporting, we listen to BBC World News or PRI's The World.  I particularly like these because they will often have stories on parts of the world I don't know much about, like Africa (my background is in European history).  They also have cultural stories -- about music, for example -- and my kids often have their interests sparked by listening to them.  The BBC World News has particular segments, like Reporting Religion, that I think are fantastic.  These programs are commercial free.  Probably the best magazine IMO for this perspective is the Economist (which, despite its title, is not just about business and economics).




    • renee

      renee on Oct. 22, 2013, 9:36 p.m.

      I absolutely agree. It's so important to have some idea of what is going on to make informed political decisions. Because I was removed from any political "say", by being an alien resident for 11 years of my adult life, I became disenchanted (along with being disenfranchised) with politics in general. Prior to my years in the states I was a "letter writing" constituent. I wrote letters to political representatives, etc. I tried to understand the issues, even though I had my biases. And then I lived in the states for over a decade and had no say in anything except for how I spent my money and my time and so I poured my wanting to change the world energies into those arenas. 

      But now I feel I should do my part in the political system again and I don't know where to start. I feel powerless and uninformed. And getting informed means tuning into news and media and it's hard to that (for all the reasons I wrote in this post). 

      You raise some excellent points about education with regards to adults having a depth of knowledge about politics to help equip them to make thoughtful decisions. I feel I haven't modeled civic action very well over the past few years but I hope we have modeled thoughtful decisions with our discussions and family engagement (around appropriate articles, etc) about issues in our world and as you say, "history in the making". 

      Certainly is lots to think about. And I remember listening to PRI's The World and the BBC world news. Guns, Germs and Steel has been on my to read list for a while. Thanks for reminding me about it.


  • Marie

    Marie on Oct. 22, 2013, 4:31 p.m.

    I am right.there.with.you on avoiding the pushy media sensationalism. My household gets most of its media via curated forms as well, and I was recently reminded of the negative consequences when those of us with calmer and more considerate perspectives opt out. I am referring to the recent gov shutdown in the US. For some reason, elected officials felt it necessary to play political brinksmanship with my financial and economic security in hostage. This was not a position that I personally supported, nor was it one that my friends and acquaintences were in favor of. But somehow the only message that many elected officials heard was the take-no-prisoners-my-way-or-else! approach is an acceptable practice. The point being, when we quietly choose to avoid consumptive media it is important that we are not also implicitly accepting the agenda of louder voices.


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Oct. 22, 2013, 6:57 p.m.

    Ahhh so good. so interesting. I have a lot to say about this, but want to be thoughtful about it. Hopefully I'll have time soon for a more reflective responce. I am right there with your musings- you're very thoughtful, Renee. Thanks.


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Oct. 22, 2013, 10:41 p.m.

    You say: "I am wired with a desire to make things right and a propensity to anxiety.I have to be careful about what I watch and listen to because fear and overwhelm can induce paralysis instead of the action required to solve a problem. I imagine I'm not the only person like this." No, you are not. I totally recognize myself in that affirmation. This is why I chose a long time ago to not watch TV and not listen to the news. When my girls were little and I was into Waldorf a lot, I was very aware of the noise that surrounded them (no TV, no radio, and only very rarely some recorded music).

    Now, that they are bigger, I still protect them a lot from the information they are exposed. It was pretty hard when we lived for 2 years with my grandma, an TV and news addict, who wanted to share all that with us at the dinner table and I had to ask her to refrain. She lived in constant fear from everything she was hearing on the news, she kept repeating us how unsafe it was out there...

    People are so disensitized to horrors and dramas, it's scary. It's also scary to see how they have no filter in front of children and how they share the latest tragedy with all the gore details.

    After a year and a half away from my Quebec home, I feel even more disconnected. Just like you, I could not read the news in Costa Rica and simply disengaged... During our last year on the road, the only bits and pieces of news I read were from pieces people posted on FB (mostly interesting articles, but when you only take your news from people thinking like you, you get really biased opinions and news content...).

    So, I stand here with  you, my friend, sheltering myself and my family from the atrocities that the journalists want the world to hear, remaining very aware of my role on the planet, of what I can do to make this world a tiny bit better. All the sadness and heaviness from the news report only paralyzed me and brought me down. Not what I need to believe that the world is still a good place to raise my beautiful girls, not what I need to keep on doing what is good.


  • Lucy

    Lucy on Oct. 22, 2013, 10:56 p.m.

    I am in New Zealand and came to your blog via my media savvy husband.  I dont follow blogs.  But I read yours. This post really hit home.  I am irritated every time I listen to 'the news' here by the fear and want (well put) provocations in every story.  But mostly by the sign off statement of - "and that's the news today".  I always answer it back saying, No it's not... it's just the news you want to share.  When I reflect on it, none of the news I hear relates to my everday life.  Not really.  Infrequent events are magnified to feel everyday, guilt and envy are played upon and everyone sounds so angry all the time.  I find myself overwhelmed by the information that surrounds and crowds out real life.  So I duck down, tend my garden, tend my children and live daily life . . . until I pop my head up into the 'news swirl' again, only to find the same thing with different names overwhelming again. .and the cycle continues. 


  • Kelsi

    Kelsi on Oct. 23, 2013, 1:34 a.m.

    This quote here:"As a blogger, I am a part of the media stream and I ask myself, how am I contributing to this cycle?" So, here are my thoughts on this: You are contributing by shining your light, by creating media that is not based on fear and lust/want.

    I am also very selective about my and my family's media exposure. And I'm happier and less anxious for it. I am just trying to shine my little light each day - a big enough task for me.



  • Elyse

    Elyse on Oct. 23, 2013, 1:42 a.m.

    I stumbled across this blog tonight and I have to say I thought I was one of few who felt this way. I find media to be overwhelming noise.Rarely did I get to sit and watch tv.I keep so very busy I was paying for background noise.I now only have internet.I search and find what I need to as necessary.I feel less stressed and haven't felt completely out of the loop of the world.So much info is unnecessary or better yet,not priority.Thank you for your post.




  • Mama

    Mama on Oct. 23, 2013, 1:54 a.m.

    My intake of media has changed a lot since we moved two and half years ago. I used to watch and listen regularly to "alternative" libertarian media. I still do on occasion, but not enough that I would consider myself up-to-date on the news. On the one hand I feel it is partly my responsibility, as well as all other U.S.A. citizens, to know what is going on with our government, but on the other hand I believe it is necessary to balance that knowledge with action - how can I respond to what I learn without getting depressed or angry?

    Well, I think that staying in the know, at least a little bit, is inspirational for how we live. When I see the lack of freedom that is becoming norm, it makes me respond by respecting the rights of others even more, and teaching my kids how to respect others. This whole political freedom thing we feel passionate about is just one area that we use media for of course, but in answer to your question about taking in and responding to media without getting crushed, I think that people can choose to be creative in changing the bad things going on in their own little corner of the world.

    I cannot change what is happening in Washington, D.C. but I can raise children who know what good government is, who know how to respect their neighbors, who know how to make important decisions, who know how to be responsible. I can show my loved ones and friends what we could have with a better government in a small setting, I can make a difference in my corner of the world. And when I do that, when I let the media inspire me to make a difference where I can, then I know that I am using the media for good instead of letting it control my emotions.

    Long story short - too much media is not good, but while I appreciate seperating myself from media for a time, I also appreciate how it can inspire me to live better and do the little I can to make my world better too :)


  • anandar

    anandar on Oct. 23, 2013, 4:06 a.m.

    I do think we all have some sort of responsibility to let some portion of news about the wider world into our lives, although I'm sure that the scope of that responsibility is different for different people and different stages of life.

    One question I use to test myself is:  am I getting the kind of information that I need to make decisions about how I spend my volunteer time and how I make charitable donations?  For me, that means following certain issues in the news quite closely, mostly on the local level (e.g., public schools and early childhood education), because I know that they are issues on which I may be moved to write a letter, attend a local meeting, etc.  And I always dedicate a portion of my charitable giving toward systemic advocacy about issues I care about, and I want those decisions to be well informed.

    I definitely agree with your concerns about avoiding messages of fear and want, but I also don't want to be so closed to the rest of the world that I accidentally close my mind and my heart as well.  But sometimes it seems like there is a fine line between closed and painfully exposed.    


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 23, 2013, 12:04 p.m.

      Exactly. That fine line and where is it? I think it's different for different people based on temperment and personality. My husband can handle "knowing" so much more and he does know a lot more about global current events than I do. (I tend to be more up on the local scene.) He also has a much higher tolerance for graphic violence etc in movies, but he's still a very caring, non-violent person. I have a different tolerance for those things in movies, books and of course the news. 


  • Cari

    Cari on Oct. 23, 2013, 4:54 a.m.

    What you've done here is articulated so beautifully the very essence of my own struggle as well. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to communicate this struggle - the emotions at hand and your honest questions within it. It fed my soul this evening and for that I am grateful.


  • Kirstie

    Kirstie on Oct. 23, 2013, 9:51 a.m.

    I subsribe to a 'France Inter' news podcast to improve my French.  It is far enough removed from me that I don't feel I am suffering from news overload when I listen to it (I am in the UK), and international enough that if you listen to it you would be aware of any global news (e.g major catastrophe, new premier in G8 country) 

    The other thing you learn when you listen to the news in other countries is that 'the news' is what the media choose to report.  Obviously no media outlet can cover everything, but it's good to be aware that you could listen to/watch 24 hour news and still be blind to most of what goes on in the world.


  • Pam F.

    Pam F. on Oct. 23, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

    I had to delurk and chime in on this one.  Our access to media is also very limited.  I've always protected my kids from images that just aren't appropriate for any of us.  We only have netflix and online news sources.  That said, I wanted my 7th grader to start being a little more globally aware so we found CNN Student News.  It's a 10 minute airing online that explains stories pretty well.  I like that I am emailed topics and discussion questions the night before so we can answer questions or screen content.


  • Kristin

    Kristin on Oct. 24, 2013, 11:34 a.m.

    Renee-- I just wanted to say "thanks". It's nice to know that I'm not alone in feeling disconnected or weird that the weight of the news is too heavy for me. And I totally can relate to the "same news six months later" feeling. There is so much fear mongering everywhere! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who finds it unnecessary.  


  • Susan

    Susan on Oct. 24, 2013, 11:35 a.m.

    We are careful with media also . When watching it with my two sons ages almost 12  and 9 we share our values with them. When an adult leaves the room we shut it off. There are times when  the channel is changed because of an image or news story. My boys have also learned guard what they see or hear. Just this morning my 9 year old said " that is not a good commercial." He then turned down the volume .i want to stay inform but there are just some things I do not need to know. . What the latest pop star is doing is at the top of that list. 


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 24, 2013, 1:12 p.m.

      I totally agree Susan with the importance of not just shielding our kids from things but teaching them how to respond. Watching TV and consuming other media is a great avenue for talking about values with our kids. We do that all the time when also. 

      We can't keep our kids in a bubble, nor do I want to, so like you we teach our kids how to guard themselves when they are exposed to things beyond our control. This is the stage we're at with our older two. We can't control everything they read and watch, nor do we want to! They are going to have to learn how to filter and screen their own media consumption and you learn that by doing, not simply by never being exposed.

      But there is a time and place for everything, and one of my concerns is how much exposure young children get to disturbing media (disturbing for its content and its advertising) before they have been taught skills of discernment.


  • Lori

    Lori on Oct. 24, 2013, 12:45 p.m.

    I agree completely.  My parents have always watched news every night.  I remember being scared as a child of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.  I spent a lot of time worrying about it.  My dad likes to poke fun about my kids having to enter the "real world" someday.  I live in the real world now, as an adult with no TV, news shows, scary movies and the like.  I choose to guard my eyes from disturbing and inapropriate images, and I'm teaching my kids to do the same.   

    I wouldn't say my head is in the sand, or that I'm unaware of world issues.  You'd have to be pretty isolated, and not use a computer, for that to happen.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 24, 2013, 1:18 p.m.

      People's "real world" comments bother me also because I believe we create the world we want. And in my "real world" children are protected from bullies and are shielded from disturbing things until they are emotionally ready to deal with that. It breaks my heart that so many children are expected to deal with difficult things at home or at school, before they are ready. I can't change everything but I can make my home the kind of world I want to live in. 


  • amy

    amy on Oct. 24, 2013, 7:10 p.m.

    oh this is just like me.  People always look at us in confusion for not knowing who a famous person is or about an event or something.  But I think most people live in a state of anxiety, consumed by things they know about or worry about or whatever.  When you remove that from your life and live knowing God has it all in His hands anyway, there is such peace and contentment.  They can have their pop stars and political woes, I will take my peace anyday!


  • Laura

    Laura on Oct. 26, 2013, 12:53 p.m.

    Renee, I just discovered your blog through 30 day vegan and am so glad I did.  I live in the middle of the city (Atlanta) where you never get away from the business of the day no matter how horrifying or inappropriate it may be.  I am also a news junkie but lately have found myself becoming more and more anxious as well as slightly depressed and then it dawned on me, "Turn.it.off.!"   I'm saying all this just as a thank you for a blog that hit so close to my heart these days. 


  • tonia

    tonia on Oct. 30, 2013, 2:04 p.m.

    "The message is fear..."   This is absolutely excellent, all of it.  I used to listen to NPR constantly as well, but I've moved to the classical radio station...it's better for brain, soul and body.   I do tune in Jhian Ghomeshi (CBC) now and again because he's a great interviewer, but after reading the comments I'm reminded that some Krista Tippet podcasts would be a nice addition.   Thank you for this.  


  • Kimberly

    Kimberly on Oct. 31, 2013, 1:58 a.m.

    Before we were married my husband said he didn't want  television in our home.  Fifteen years later, we have a tv for movies we select, but no regular reception.  Best decision we could have made!  We learn what we need to learn about and, unfortunately sometimes, more than we want with the internet.  :)

    We have a quiet life, a close family and happy children.  It's good.


  • Melissa R

    Melissa R on Nov. 14, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

    I, too, rarely partake in any mass media news.  I don't watch it on TV (at all), I don't listen on the radio (NPR makes me feel that I immediately need to go help whoever they are talking about!), I don't read it in newspapers or online and my FB friends are few and I only find out when there is a HUGE story (like the Boston Marathon tragedy).  I don't feel guilty or that I am missing something. 


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