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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Putting Yourself First in the Era of 24-Hour News

By Ziggie

We live in the era of a 24-hour news cycle, and what this means is when we turn on the TV or look online there’s always something happening. Our phones can even receive news bulletins, and as soon as news breaks, we learn about it. This level of access to information is unprecedented in our history, but I wonder if we’re evaluating the cost of this, for our well-being and overall mental health.

I’m someone who used to be up on the latest news story. If something happened, I wanted to know as much about it as possible. That means looking at several different news websites, comparing and contrasting them to find inconsistencies ( I touch on vetting news sources on my other blog entry ‘Info Inspecting’). Honestly, that fatigued me, the more I learned about a particular topic, the worse I felt. That’s when I started to ask, do I need to know everything?

Information presents itself in different ways. A strong title and intro, photos, some that can be quite graphic. And that’s done to draw attention. For me, as someone who used to follow violent crimes, the photos got to me eventually. Especially when I considered that particular photos don’t have permissions or the person wasn’t in a position to give consent. So, seeing media sites/shows just emblazing tragic imagery to get clicks or viewership, that didn’t feel right to me.

Another element was a slight bit of peer pressure. I felt like I needed to know or someone could say “you don’t know about this? And I wouldn’t know.” But what I learned is that sometimes things can hit a little to close to home, so you have to disengage.

When I do choose to look at tragic news stories I limit the sites I visit after 6:00 pm. The tradition of watching the 10 or 11’clock news is not something I do anymore. I never read comments on news stories posted online. I don’t comment on them either. I unfollow or unsub from individuals who post graphic imagery without a trigger warning. And, I always make sure to contrast the bad with good things as well; choosing to read about small efforts people make to help their community or to watch something that makes me laugh.

The 24-hour cycle of news is overwhelming. The race for ratings, clicks, and views doesn’t take into the consideration of its audience. So, we have to be cognizant of the types of media and information that we consume, because it can affect our mental health, and how we view the world. That doesn’t mean shutting yourself away; it just means making an effort to tailor how much we partake in it. Don’t feel bad about not knowing about something. Put yourself first. The changes I’ve made on how I engage with media have put me in a better place, I don’t have to know everything, and that’s okay.