Blogging Rocked My World—And Showed Me the Greater Good

Be Careful Out There by Jann Alexander © 2014


Tell a lifelong news junkie she can’t read the morning news? Anathema. Since high school, as newspaper editor, my wakeup routine was habitual: Grab coffee, slurp copiously, scan my first morning reads from the Washington Post, the New York Times, sometimes the Wall Street Journal, then move onto my local paper.

The news was always the same. A horrific execution here, a brutal gang-rape there, scores of starving orphans abandoned in a remote part of the world (remote to me, of course, but not to them), hate speech and racist responses flowing from one nation to another and back again, young boys pressed into militaristic service by barbarians, world leaders obliviously tending to great matters of political discourse and financial empowerment, Pentagon officials ramping up their arsenals, an grisly early death for a drunk teen driver and all of his passengers, a war on the brink here, a drone reply to it there, public officials lamenting the border crossings of hunted children, on and on it went, always the same except for the names, no one ever taking responsibility, nor assuming responsibility—but a lot of wringing of hands. Multiple pairs of hands, the world over, more than I could count.

Outrageous? Yes. Unconscionable? Of course. Agitating and depressing, too, isn’t it? That’s the state it left me in. There were never any new surprises in the news, just new ways of inflicting the violence and heartbreak.

And then, coffee drunk and horrific news digested, off to work I went, outraged, then saddened, discouraged and feeling helpless. Until I began writing for my own blog.

“Unexpectedly, my newfound blogging habit pushed me into more positive territory than the morning news ever could.”   Tweet:

Blogging, in itself, didn’t lead me to a miraculous new outlook on world events. The benefits came more from unintended consequences: I began to read other blogs each morning, commenting on some here, sharing some of them there, until the blog reading consumed two huge cups of morning coffee and left me no time for the all-important but never-changing horrific world news.

There were blogs to read by introverts deftly handling their introversion, artists striving gracefully to make their art, hard-working ranchers who were poets, poets who were more than deserving of discovery, writers who were gamely publishing or self-publishing, techies who were turning undecipherable code into clever apps, iPhoneography advocates who were generously plying the tricks of their trade, connoisseurs who were eager to explain the nuances of fine wines, horse trainers who really were training humans, photographers who were posting images in the face of disabilities—and everywhere I looked, people where sharing, commenting, publishing—all of it generously, and often with no clear compensation (or perhaps the compensation was measurable to them in non-monetary ways).

And how did that make me feel each morning? Different. In fact, I started my day feeling enlightened, engaged, happy, laughing out loud here, smiling wryly to myself there, and most especially, feeling creative. Thus began my new morning ritual—I started my day with generously-shared inspiration that gave me an overwhelming rush to create, too.

“If this is a deterioration in my brain, then more, please.”

—Andrew Sullivan on the rewards and challenges of blogging

To be sure, I still get world news. It’s everywhere and awful and unavoidable. I remain a huge fan of NPR and it’s on whenever I’m in the car. I can hear it by podcast if I miss something. My husband shares much of the world’s catastrophies with me. Plus it’s on Twitter. It’s being discussed online and among my friends. Newspaper headlines still shout up at me from their spot on the dining room table, and I’m a quick scanner. So I still get it. All of that terrible stuff is out there, it’s all still happening, and I’m still powerless to control any of it.

The only thing I can really control is my own approach to the chronic awful news of humanity’s crimes to one another. I choose to acknowledge it, accept it, and keep my focus elsewhere. And blogging has inadvertently taken me towards this more positive approach of acceptance, with a focus on what’s good. There is much good still out there, too. 

How do you start off your day in a positive way? Ever considered blogging?

I hope you’ll click the links I’ve included to check out some of the amazing bloggers who’ve inspired me and so many others—this is my homage to them, too. You’ll find the results of my positive approach here at my blog, Pairings :: Art + What Goes With It. I’d love to hear from you here, or on Twitter: @AustinDetails.

16 replies

  1. I gave up T.V. years ago for various reasons. Now I never watch the news. My tome is the New York Times–my daily spiritual guide, because I read what I want and most of it nourishes me. Sure, I am current on world events, but it does not saturate my daily existence. The “first” events of my day are a cup of tea and watching my bird stations. They/re a lift for my soul. Then it’s off to read the NYT online and then take a walk.

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  2. This is exactly how I feel about blogging too. I’ve learned so much about other people, especially in foreign countries. I used to read travel magazines to learn about foreign cultures, but noticed that a lot of them now focus on shopping rather than on people, culture, and experiences. I’ve found that there are so many travel blogs that are so much better than the magazines.

    I used to read The Economist in the morning, but let our subscription expire earlier this year. I really noticed how much I miss it when I picked up a copy recently while at the gym. I ended up spending my time there reading the magazine instead of exercising!

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    • Nice to hear you’re thinking along similar lines, Peter. There is so much competition for our attention, isn’t there? But with blogging, we get that positive focus and a boost to our imaginations too. As for reading The Economist at the gym, sounds like it’s a pretty highbrow gym! Better to frequent gyms with no reading material 😀

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  3. Jann you are so right about the news- same things, different names and varied locations-absolutely frightening. Mornings are peaceful time of the day and so I begin my day by sitting all alone with my eyes closed for five to ten minutes.
    You are absolutely true about blogging as well, you get to learn and read from people from different places and interests. I had never thought that blogging will become a habit.
    Thanks for sharing the other blogs. 🙂

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    • That is a great way to start the morning, too. Then it’s on to exposure to the wonderful world of interesting views to begin the day with a lift; and it occurs to me, one that wasn’t even possible pre-internet, when the news had to be delivered daily in print. Thanks for commenting, Norma, I’m glad this post was relevant for you, too.

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  4. Jann, this is lovely. For almost three years I worked for public media – not NPR, but a much smaller entity, Public Radio International. That’s the job I lost in October. I’m still very committed to knowing enough about what is going on in the world to be a compassionate global citizen and an informed voter. But I’m very aware of the shortcomings of news as we know it – Alain de Boton’s The News: A User’s Manual, is a great summary, and one you’d have empathy with. I’d also recommend my former CEO’s TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/alisa_miller_shares_the_news_about_the_news?language=en. It’s not exactly what is bothering you – de Boton is more on target there – but it is very, very interesting. I’m also very aware of the way the blogging community has enhanced my creative and intellectual life. Thanks for being a part of that.

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    • I’m a fan of PRI as well as NPR, and I’m sorry to hear you lost your job there. From the looks of your blog posts, you are shining in a new capacity, however. Thanks for the links and the recommend. I’ll track those down. I’m thrilled to have connected with you, like so many others in the blogging community. It really enriches one’s life. Appreciate your feedback, Paula.

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