This week I switched off from Facebook. I have grown tired. Tired of the lack of respect and tired of the barrage of negative comments on every news story within my feed.
“Scott Morrison is a disgrace.” “Annastacia Palaszczuk is letting our state down.” “Brendan Murphy is a joke.” And so the comments – often lacking in clarity or factual evidence – go on.
And then we have the keyboard warriors who target those who are willing to share an educated, or dare I say, positive opinion.
I’m all for freedom of speech. As humans we’re entitled to equality, to share opinions and political views. These views can and will differ substantially – this is what makes us unique. Yet in many cases, acceptance or understanding has made way for targeted bullying and disrespect.
Of course, the content itself is also becoming tiresome and here in lies the problem. COVID-19 death tallies, stress-inducing fake news, violence.
I remember being told during my journalism studies at university, “if it bleeds, it leads”. For decades this has formed the hierarchy of news bulletins.
But the way in which we consume news has changed so much in the past decade. It is thrown at us from every possible medium and can be difficult to escape. As recent negative social media activity has shown, it can be easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole and become all consumed with the doom and gloom.
We can’t help but feel a sense of negativity and exhaustion.
Is it time for real change?
Two weeks ago I shed a tear as news broke that autistic teenager Will Callaghan had been safely found after spending two nights lost in near-freezing Victorian bushland. The sense of relief and joy at hearing good news was overwhelming.
Until that moment I did not realise quite how much I had been craving it, and I wasn’t alone, with thousands of people expressing positive emotions online, echoing my thoughts: “We needed to feel something positive on a national scale.”
Now, a new survey has shown that many of us are starting to feel restless and resentful towards the negativity presented to us on a daily basis.
The COVID-19: Australian news and misinformation report from the University of Canberra shows that two-thirds of respondents are avoiding news about the coronavirus and 46 per cent say they find the current news coverage overwhelming.
Many crave a balance between issues of national importance, constructive reporting, critical thinking and community journalism. This is the vital balance needed from our major media industries. It is most definitely time for change.