Aware But Not Immersed:Coping With Repetitive Negativity In the Media

Another week, another hashtag. There was a time when I eagerly latched on to any narrative that dominated my timelines, particularly those which related to race relations in my country. But when news of the latest outrage erupts online I now caution myself to stop, breathe and take some time to think.

I don’t see any value in burying one’s head in the sand when it comes to current events and choosing to be blissfully ignorant. But with that said there is a line between knowing what is happening and developing an unhealthy fixation on negative media, especially when it comes to the hot-button topic of race in America.I say this because I am recovering from such a fixation myself. In the video below Lenon Honor discusses this kind of fixation:

There are two things that I deeply loathe: spiders and admitting when I am wrong. In that sense I’m true to my astrological sign, as Leos are known to be stubborn. My concessions are usually made through gritted teeth.  Over the years, however, I have learned that self-reflection and self-critique are crucial in my quest to mature, to refine my character and to be an asset to my community. For the past year or so this process has meant investing more time looking in.  I stopped to look at how I allowed particular news stories to dominate my psyche and writing-even though they really had little to do with my day-to-day existence. I thought about the time I invested in arguing with racist trolls in a misguided attempt to ‘school’ them and raise awareness. I saw the futility in my desire to frequently commiserate with those who agreed with me, to retreat to an echo chamber dominated by an underlying sense of negativity and despair.

I had to face the bitter realization that my passion and verbosity did not add up to any change in the real world. All of the arguing and reading folks for filth was like masturbation. It provides a release and feels good, but has no ability to actually create. But creating was within my grasp, as was change.

I don’t do things as I used to. When I feel the temptation to revert back I call to mind the mantra I have created for myself:aware not immersed. Being conscious of what’s going on but not allowing myself to drown in it allows me to live and function in a way that is helpful for me and my child.  I am aware but not immersed. I maintain knowledge of what is happening both in my society and within/towards my community. I stay aware, but refuse to be overwhelmed by it.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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