The past few months, I’ve had to gird my stomach before picking up a newspaper (something, just six short months ago, I loved to do). The news has been singularly bleak and negative; even spilling into the softest of stories (e.g. holiday gift guides for products under $20, the subtext being we can’t afford more).
Now, I’m all for honesty and transparency; telling it like it is. But I also think part of media’s job is to show some balance. So while the market spiraled downward and consumer confidence slid, too many outlets were painting a picture of complete doom and gloom and not leaving any room for hope.
The thing is, life goes on. We get up, eat, work, go to school, spend time with friends and loved ones, go out to movies and restaurants, shop, and have many other experiences too numerous or personal to mention. Unfortunately, some of us may lose jobs and other material things and that’s really too bad for those concerned.
But look around you. Things have slowed down but they aren’t going to stop. The economy may have gone south (like the snowbirds), but that’s no reason to nail shutters to the windows.
As a PR person who craves and consumes more than my fair share of media, I have probably taken too many of these stories to heart. In fact, I wonder if we, in the communications business, don’t have an extremely mild version of ‘current-traumatic’ stress disorder, due to the fact that we’re ingesting far too many downers (and I don’t mean of the pharmaceutical kind).
Couple this with the effects of the economic slowdown. I’ve felt a tightening in my business for months, but what’s worse than the reality are the sleepless nights and anxiety spent anticipating. I’m pretty sure my stress levels have gone up in inverse proportion to the economy.
Now, it’s a new year. And what can a person do to begin on a more positive note?
Here are a few suggestions (not resolutions) I’m going to try:
- Become more emotionally detached about unemotional things – look at the facts and try not to take so much innuendo and speculation to heart.
- Be more selective about the way I approach MSM; find a filter that enables me to view things objectively (e.g. get my news from sources like Jon Stewart so I can both cry and laugh).
- Read more blogs. I’ve found the PR and tech blogs I follow have a much more balanced view. And I take solace in that.
- See things from a fresh perspective. Don’t crawl into a hole and ignore the world, experience it. Open my mind, keep learning and trying new things.
- Enjoy the moment – a quiet dinner, a great novel, an entertaining Hollywood film, spending time with people I care about.
So, to end on a ‘high’ note, I’m going to turn things over to Jerry Lewis as he belts out his final song on the Telethon: ‘When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark…’ (Come to think of it, watch a musical, too.)
Happy New Year. Here’s to a lighter 2009.