Sometimes I'm disconnected from the world, but other times I engage. I read what's on Twitter, when I can't seem to find anything else to do. There's something about really thinking about the particulars of what is going on in the world that can put anxiety into a person's body.
I feel like I'm learning something, by reading the feed, and that means I'm accomplishing something. But in reality, the amount of work getting done is small compared to the sense of work getting done.
What can we do to solve the world's problems? We are so helpless. All we can do is read the news and feel the appropriate human feelings. It's the best we can do -- or is it?
It's entirely possible that the world can't be fixed. It will fall apart. It's possible that it can be and it won't. Nobody really knows.
It may be somewhat helpful for us to talk about how we do things. I don't know if the following is something that would help anyone else, but this is how I try to handle these situations of news anxiety. It's a little like Stoicism or the Bhagavad-Gita. It combines two of Jesus' teachings: 1) Don't worry, and 2) work.
Here is my take, which might innovate (for better or worse):
as to 1 -- You have to be willing to die, and to suffer. And to see those you love die, and suffer. And to be willing to assume that civilization will die out -- none of your efforts will come to anything, and everything will be destroyed. It may be difficult and not up to you to feel all that willingness as true, in your body, but you can defy that, you can be yourself and as yourself accept total loss, and it's possible your body will follow. It is easier to bear this if you believe in God -- even the thought that everything will perish is easier to bear if God is real;
-- and as to 2: dispose of your resources as diligently and effectively as you know how (start by disposing of them a little more diligently and effectively). If you can't figure out something to do to deal with "the situation RIGHT NOW", then try to work on solving similar situations 5 years from now, or 10. You can always learn something now that might help you later. Try to think deeply and invent plausible dreams. Work on solving a small problem, even if you can't solve a big one.
How would God judge you? Does God say "They didn't save the world... I'm angry"? Why would we be able to save the world? Maybe we can. But is there a good reason why humans necessarily ought to be able to? However, if the Bible is any indication, God gets angry at us if we don't use our ability to work.
The malaise we feel from the news is fear. Fear is somehow a virtuous thing. But the Bible says, in Proverbs 26:13:
The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion roams the streets!"If responsibility turns into fear ("I need to save the world; I need to know the news") and fear turns into inaction, then responsibility is doing the same job as laziness in keeping us in bondage: perhaps in Proverbs, to the bed; but in our cases, to our screens. And it may be possible that deep inside us sometimes it is laziness, the laziness of following the string of pearls in the feed, fed to us, which causes us to feel so discouraged, so incapable of motion.
Guilt implies hope -- if you hold yourself accountable, you can discover strength.
Sometimes it's better to rest than to work. If reading the news is restful, as it can be for some people, then that could be good. Somehow for me, reading the news, or any kind of social media for very long, simultaneously promises me rest and work while giving me neither. A friend of mine says that social media steals your time.
I'm writing this [16 January 2021], having trouble sleeping -- somewhat from the news, somewhat from life. When I stop typing, the anxiety comes back in my body. So I try to make the best of my time, by writing. This writing may encourage you -- or likely enough, a future version of me.