The northeast coast of the United States is just coming through the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. It’s been a particularly large and powerful weather event, stretching across multiple states simultaneously. Many folks were hit hard, some fatally. Here in Concord, NH the storm brought a day off from school, high winds, downed tree limbs, and power outages. There may have been more painful impacts than those, but not so far as I’ve heard.
Because I worked from home yesterday and hung out with my 11-year-old, I had the chance to control quite precisely what I knew about the storm. Ahead of time, we’d had plenty of warning from the newspaper and neighbors about how to prepare. My family stored our lawn furniture and summer toys, closed all the storm windows and made sure we had enough food and light for a multi-day power outage. We arranged to stay off the roads. Our only job was to keep appropriate watch out the window and respond as needed.
With friends and family up and down the Eastern seaboard, curiosity naturally drew me to the available media. What was happening in North Carolina where my mother, my sister, and her family live? I checked some weather maps online and saw that their town appeared to be about the same distance from the center of the storm as mine, but on the southerly side. Knowing they also are far enough inland, level-headed and in possession of more than the basic necessities of life, there was no need to worry, and I didn’t.
Not too much further into the day, however, I found myself checking the TV coverage. Why not have a peek at the unfolding natural drama?
Here’s why not: non-essential turbulence. Fifteen minutes in, I found the strength to turn off the set. What happened in between was a swift tour through anxiety, hype, exhortation, thrill-seeking, and dark speculation, peppered with a handful of completely discordant upbeat commercials. By the time I shut off the coverage, I felt anxious and uneasy, with no good reason. My hat goes off to the Weather Channel for their skillful manipulation of my emotional equilibrium. Fortunately, logic prevailed and I didn’t spread the turbulent aftermath along to any other parties, best I know. Meanwhile, a day later I’m still metabolizing the inner media storm remnants. Our property fared much better, just a few minor tree branches down.
If you need to know, by all means tune in to the available information sources. Be informed and take appropriate action. It’s just that, can you tell what’s useful information? Are you able to consume and appropriately engage with the facts, and can you tell when you’ve veered into added emotional turbulence? Is it possible to push away from the table when you sense you’ve had enough? This might be a useful way to consider how to face into the election media storm we’re currently experiencing in the U.S. as well.