If reading the news is dragging you down into despair

There is a lot of awful news right now. In times like these, it’s important to have strategies for avoiding despair.

One strategy I’ve seen discussed a lot is limiting your exposure to the news. For instance, some people have decided not to read the news at night. This can be a really good strategy for some people — but it doesn’t work well for everyone.

If you keep telling yourself “I should really read the news less”, then reading the news constantly anyway, it may be that you need a different strategy.

For some people, the way to avoid despair involves reading the news *more*, not less. When the headlines are horrifying, it can make it seems like the world is made of horrors. It can take a lot more digging to find out that it is possible to fight the horrors. It can take a lot more digging to learn that some things are good, and that progress is still possible.

For instance, if you’re reading a terrifying news article about vote suppression in the South, find out which organizations are fighting for voting rights. Learn the stories of people who have fought for their right to vote and won. Learn specifics about the battles being fought now, and the people who are fighting them. Knowing this kind of context can help, a lot.

More generally: When you find that despair-inducing news is dragging you down, seek out context that goes beyond the horrors. The horrors are real, and so is everything else.

If all the stories you read are about horrifying policies, opposition can seem imaginary. Make sure you read enough about the opposition to understand that it’s real.

Similarly, wins are as real as losses. If all the stories you read are about losing, winning will seem imaginary. Make sure you also read enough about wins to understand that winning is a real thing.

(It also helps to take partial victories or near-victories seriously.)

Tl;dr When you’re reading a lot of news and feeling a lot of despair, sometimes the solution is to read the news less — and sometimes the solution is to read *more* of the news. When you only read stories about evil, good can seem imaginary. If you also seek out stories about people who fight evil, and about wins as well as losses, it can make it much more clear that goodness exists. For some people, that is the best strategy for avoiding despair in times when a lot of the news is horrifying.