2020 was a disastrous year. Everyone knows that. With the potential of another World War in January, Covid-19, and the huge number of protests worldwide (just to name a few), you could easily say that 2020 was an extremely eventful year. But let me ask you a question; how did you hear about these events and how did you learn more about them? If I had to guess, I’d say you got a lot of it from social media, or from links on social media to online news sources. Not only that, but people who shared those links would often ask you to share it as well, or would say “educate yourself on this matter”. But with so many events happening worldwide, can one really be expected to keep up to date with everything going on? And is it okay to not learn everything about one event?
Covid-19’s Effect on Our Lives
With the current world situation, many people are overwhelmed with work, studies, and personal situations. Covid-19 changed the world, from how we go to school to how we eat our food. In fact, over 300,000 people in Malaysia lost their jobs in between January and May due to Covid-19. When you’re so stressed out by your own personal matters and have to think about the problems in the world on top of that, it can quickly become overwhelming . Even if the general situation with Covid-19 is improving these days, with the release of the vaccine and the successes in certain countries, sometimes just reading the news too often is also stressful and depressing. After all, there are more issues than just Covid.
There is a phenomenon increasing among the general population these days – ‘news fatigue’. With the increasing amount of media and news coverage, everything is expected to come to us quickly and constantly, and sometimes it’s just too much. Tragic stories sell, so they’re published more often and you will find them more often. When was the last time you read more than two positive articles in a row when you opened your news app? Nothing seems to be going right, and even if things start looking up, who knows when something bad will happen again? You don’t want to check the news anymore, but you also want to know what’s happening. It’s a weird predicament but you can’t do anything about it. All you can do is watch as the world descends into chaos.
So, you decide to distance yourself for your own mental health. You choose to focus only on the ‘important’ matters.
Some may argue that this view is unfair. It implies that certain events in the world are more important than others and that it’s okay to not care about certain people. Why can you keep up with politics in the United States yet barely know the basics about the farmers’ protests in India?
Both events can and likely will affect us living in a foreign country in some way, but why do we care more about one than the other? Is it a privilege to be able to not have to care? Of course, everyone has their own reasons, but can we justify these reasons? It’s hard to say, but there’s one thing for sure…
Your Mental Health is Important
2020 was a bad year for everyone and we need to learn to take care of ourselves more than ever. Both physically and mentally. In such a terrifying situation where you have no control of the things happening to you and the people around you, the best you can do is try not to descend too far into madness. In Japan, there were more deaths caused by suicide in the month of October alone than were caused by Covid-19 overall. Many said that Covid-19 was a primary reason in pushing themselves closer to that edge. The same fate can apply to many more people as the effects of Covid-19 won’t disappear the moment the vaccine is widely available. So, as much as you want to know about the latest global events, perhaps it is best to prioritise your own issues rather than to worry about other issues you don’t have control over, and to let your mental health heal instead of drowning yourself in further despair.
What Should You Do?
In the end, it’s your decision. No one can or should force you to read nor abstain from reading the news. However, if you feel that you make a certain decision at the cost of your health and wellbeing, you should think about whether that decision was necessary or not. Unless an issue impacts you directly right now, perhaps you can stand to read that article later, or to research about that social injustice tomorrow. Of course, this is not to say that we can walk around with zero interest in global issues, but it’s okay to not know everything at all times.
Written by Samantha Joshlyn Thong Mun