The recent rash of worldwide political events has sent Americans (at least my friends and fam) running back to nightly news broadcasts in droves. So we all had front-row seats as the first reports of Japan's catastrophic earthquake hit. Details of the event are still developing -- including the possible failure of several nuclear reactors -- so there's no telling how much worse this story will get. But one thing is for sure: It's really, really bad.
All the news coverage has made me think about how following major (and harrowing) events like this on the news affects our relationships. Jack and I have friends who are very attuned to every new bit of information that hits the wires -- who are constantly reading reports online, watching video footage and posting it all on social networking sites. We get it. We've been there. We did the exact same thing after September 11. I was in NYC for fashion week when it happened, and Jack was in Los Angeles (where we lived at the time), terrified beyond belief that I might not come home to him. So we each watched the news like hawks, because we didn't know what else to do. We did the same thing with Hurricane Katrina -- ingesting hours of heartbreaking footage. Remember Anderson Cooper cracking? I sure do. But at one point, something clicked, and we realized -- we weren't doing anyone any good. We were literally making ourselves sick with worry, and our worry wasn't actually benefiting the people who needed help. So Jack and I decided to take a step back from the news.
Since then, we've both kept it at a bit of a distance. I still read a ton of periodicals, including dailies like The New York Times. I can't afford to be completely in the dark when it comes to world issues. But whenever I start to feel like I'm emotionally binging on a particular news story, I force myself to walk away. And Jack does the same thing. We don't always succeed at this. For example, we are both way too emotionally invested in anything connected to the health care crisis, because we are so personally affected by it. But the bottom line is that we were both cool with admitting that we're just too damn sensitive for the 24-hour news cycle. Personally, I can't empathize with people who are in harm's way without (in some sense) taking it on emotionally. Then, Jack gets stressed out from worrying about me. So it's just a big, fat no bueno -- which is why neither of us is 100 percent up on every little detail of what's happening in Japan. But we do know that it's bad, and the Japanese people are definitely in our thoughts right now.
Do you and your spouse watch the news together? How does it affect you guys? Have you ever thought about not watching quite so much?
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