May 22, 2013

Information Overload

From a blog called Susan's Musings:

... I have been deluged with reports of serious illnesses with requests to add the sick to my prayers, articles about the tragic death of a young girl in a pedestrian accident and links to introspective pieces about troubled marriages, mental illness and other challenging life experiences.

Relatively few years ago, I would not have known of much of this... While I knew of sad occurrences taking place in my local and intimate social circle, word of personal tragedies around the world didn’t intrude into my space....

Prior to the ubiquitous presence of the Internet in my life, the tragedies in the lives of those I know were offset by the joys. Yes, I heard of a friend’s stillborn infant or a relative who was diagnosed with cancer, but at least as frequently and usually more often, I heard of an engagement, a birth or other celebratory events. Now that everyone is connected to everyone else, I am asked to add my prayers to those of thousands of others around the world, pleading for a complete recovery for people I have never met or previously heard about...

The urgent emails notifying me of crises are not offset by joyous reports... I’m invited to share in the sorrows but never told of the celebrations or the normal, uneventful daily lives that pass without horrifying interruptions.

This is our reality. We can access news non-stop and disseminate information at the click of a mouse. Geographic distance is no barrier to communication. This is, in many ways, a wonderful advance. Yet, it carries with it the danger of being overwhelmed by gloom.  We can come to expect bad rather than good...

How true.  If you check in with each of the frum news websites, you will find out about frum people involved in car accidents, sudden deaths, fires, drownings, operations about to take place, disasters of all kinds.  It's relentless.  It's news.  It's not only that we are connected globally.  It's that we are updated constantly. 

Years ago, you may have gotten the Jewish newspaper which was published once a week.  You may have tuned in to a Jewish radio program that was broadcast once a week.  Now, in addition to frequent Internet updates and emails, we have many weekly (even daily) newspapers and magazines.  They've got to fill them up and we have been getting a surfeit of articles addressing all our frum societal problems as well as first person "sharing" of all kinds of tragic lives with details that we might be better off not knowing.

Nobody says you must visit news sites and nobody says you must read frum publications.  The alternative though, is to be disconnected from our Jewish brethren which is not an option.  How to do this while remaining positive is a challenge.

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