In the early 1960’s, a musical production appeared on the scene with the title, “Stop The World I Want To Get Off”. While the title has dire implications such as suicide, it is more than that. It is really a metaphor for the anxiety that many are feeling about the dislocation and disruption of societal values in today’s world.
For those 30 or under, the feeling may be that all is fine. Unfortunately, for many people, especially those of the older crowd the world appears to be turning upside down. What we are referring to with “stop the world”, is a desire to disconnect from the constant media assault on our senses.
If you are over 65, you can remember the 50’s and 60’s when there was no internet, cable or satellite television. There was only the major news networks and newsreaders who just conveyed the news, not opinion. When I lived in Canada, Walter Cronkite was a staple of the CBS network in the USA. He delivered the evening news straight, without commentary or bias. I only learned years later that Cronkite was a very liberal Democrat. However, it didn’t matter because he didn’t inject his political views into the newscasts.
Fast forward to today. The bias in the news is ubiquitous. Even in Australia, there is rampant partisanship on some networks––whose names we won’t mention in this article. The point is that the media has deteriorated and there is a constant onslaught of hyperbole. With that, we have the new phenomenon of fake news. I find that I have stopped watching the news, and lo and behold, I am not missing the negativity.
Hand in hand with the news media are the celebrities; movie stars and sports figures. They lecture us on how to live our lives whether it’s global warming, immigration laws, anti this or anti that. It turns out they are often the biggest hypocrites, many inserting their invective arguments as they live their lavish lifestyles.
The internet and social media have been a great blessing––or so we thought. However, it has now become a curse as well with a significant number of people addicted to the technology. If you asked many young people to stay away from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for even one day, you would get instant protestation. As seniors have become more internet savvy, they are also getting hooked on social media.
The thing about social media is that you can instantly post your delights or displeasure and you don’t have to interact emotionally with anyone. While the internet has been touted as a way for people to connect, ironically, it is a way in which people disconnect. Just take the train into the city and what do you see people doing? They have their heads down on their phones, so in many ways, people are now detached from each other.
So what is the solution to all this?
1. Wean yourself off watching the news
The news is, for the most part, negative, depressing and controversial. Good news doesn’t sell, controversy does. Will your life be any worse off if you only tuned into the news headlines once a week? If you have a newspaper that you trust, such as a weekend edition, what if you just buy that once a week? You will know what has transpired and will probably feel better emotionally.
2. Use social media sparingly
Instead of accessing social media sites throughout the day, do it once a day, at a set time. Nothing is that urgent that it can’t wait several hours. Better yet, perhaps you only check out those sites once or twice a week. If you have a business with something like a Facebook business page, you can schedule posts ahead of time, so that you don’t have to do it every day.
3. Physically connect with people
We have a device called a telephone. Yes, it has evolved these last decades, but it is still a means of verbal communication, notwithstanding that most young people prefer texting. Make contact by phone and arrange face-to-face communication. No social media site can supplant the emotional connection we make when we socialise with a person. It only takes a little bit of effort but is much more rewarding.
While we sometimes feel as if we may want to “stop the world and get off”, appreciate that every generation has felt the same way at one time or another. The answer is to bring balance and rationality into our lives.