The world has become very dark in the last few months. I simultaneously feel like crawling into a cave and never coming out again, and seeing where I can be present to help out in whatever way I can. The best middle-ground I’ve been able to find is posting relevant articles, listening to those who are speaking up, giving to campaigns, supporting #BlackLivesMatter via social media, and then collapsing on the couch to watch comfort television as the world fades away for a short while.
Part of the difficulty in the digital age is that we are constantly bombarded with flashing pictures and sound bytes. On good days, we only have to navigate around annoying ads and boring news items. On bad days, though, there’s video after video, article after article showing the same thing over and over again, beating us down into a pulp as we contemplate the idea that maybe an apocalypse isn’t the worst thing that could happen.
It’s times like this when we need to practice self-care, acknowledge our boundaries, and do what we can to protect ourselves and those around us. Sometimes, there are too many painful things in our feeds. We need to unplug, sit back, and take a breath. We have to go find hope somewhere so that we can re-charge and step out the door another day to find and spread the light of peace.
So when the world is too much to handle and I’ve been drained of words and feelings, I go home, I turn off my phone and my tablet, and turn on my TV. I might go to Netflix, or seek out some DVDs, or see what YouTube has to offer in the way of comfort.
Sometimes comfort means something familiar, like a favorite childhood program. Both “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and Bob Ross’s “Beauty is Everywhere” are available on Netflix Instant. Their voices are soothing, and give me a way to step back for a moment and catch my breath. They both offer gentle advice and their patience, warmth and joy help boost my own emotions. They both created safe worlds for us to visit when ours seems to be falling apart.
Other times, comfort means laughter. And when I need a good laugh, I turn on “Bob’s Burgers” or “Arrested Development,” wiping away happy tears as I watch the antics of the Belcher and Bluth families. Knowing that the Belchers and the Bluths will eventually rise above the scrapes they’ve been through reminds me that the world will keep turning, and that determination and perseverance make all the difference. We can keep going. We can keep seeking peace.
Then there are the shows that remind me that there are good people in the world: People who care deeply about the world and the people who inhabit it; who want to make us laugh; who can offer us a light when everything seems hopeless. When I feel like the world can’t possibly go on, or like I can’t take one more day, I turn to the “Carol Burnett Show.” I watch the skits and see how happy they are, and then sing along with Carol at the end, “I’m so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song, it seems we just get started and before you know it, it’s time we have to say so long…”
Some of you might prefer YouTube (Hannah Hart, Tyler Oakley, and Markiplier spring to mind as people who bring joy and hope to their viewers), others might prefer television personalities like Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, James Corden, or Steven Colbert, who speak to the issues of the day and offer a way to educate and inform without being overwhelming by constantly rehashing the events.
Whatever your comfort viewing is, maybe take some time this weekend to turn it on while you get away from social media and the news for a while. Stepping away for a moment to process and regroup will help you and those around you be ready to jump back into the reality of our world next week with a renewed determination to do what you can to make this planet a better one.
Take care of yourselves.