As we enter our second month of quarantine (yes, say that again, SECOND MONTH), many of us have enjoyed quite a bit more face time with our TV than we have in years. Who has thought about the effect that has, not only our health but our sanity?

As I watch pressers updating us on coronavirus (local news, national news, 24 hour a day cable news, specialty news programs and news based talk shows) I begin to wonder what the effect of so much news has on us.

Not only us but our children and every aspect of our daily lives. I think back to when I was a child and our television programming wasn’t overtaken by news. It was definitely a simpler time for Generation X. We only had 3 basic networks and we could sometimes tune in PBS to watch Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. We had morning children’s programming followed by game shows and the soap operas. We had afterschool children’s programming until the evening local and national news. We had family dinner at the table and then nightly sit-coms and dramas that were family oriented. Late night programming consisted of variety and talk shows like Johnny Carson.

Our news anchors were trusted, to the point, and all about the facts. Some of you might remember Walter Cronkite and his no-nonsense, to the point, nothing but the news style. I remember hearing “And that’s the way it is”, as he closed his nightly report. Today is a stark contrast to those times. Our programming now consists of 24 hour news, music, sports and reality programming, not only on our TV but in our hands, on our phones and every other device we own. We have to sift between real and fake news sites, as well as on our local and national news, not to mention news posts and the dreaded news memes on social media.

What is real and what is fake has become a hot topic lately. I never thought much about what we were being told by our news personalities because the news I was raised on was based on fact, not entertainment or any other agenda. Yep, I said it, AGENDA.

Only recently have I begun to really pay attention to exactly what I was seeing and hearing. Our mainstream media, who we are supposed to be able to trust to give us the truth has let me and many others down during this crisis.

I have personally seen news reports of coronavirus stories using videos of “patients” on ventilators, that were actually mannequins, caskets stacked in warehouses that were really clips from a movie, overflowing US hospital ICU’s that were taken from news reports from Italian hospitals. Their revelations of fake news, along with opinion reporting, leave us in a state of distrust with our news media. If you haven’t personally noticed these things, you only need to do a little research.

One thing I ran across, was Project Mockingbird. The basis of Project Mockingbird is that the government dictates many of our news stories – from the words used to the inflection of the statement. There is a Youtube video that demonstrates how multiple news groups used the exact same words and inflection for a promo about coronavirus. This wasn’t just one network or even left leaning vs. right leaning networks, but ALL networks.

I’ll leave the research to you to see for yourself but it leads me to wonder how much of our news is directed by agenda and opinion and how we should process the things being fed to us by media. How much news is too much? Talk shows and late night shows have become propaganda machines instead of variety and entertainment.

My prescription for better mental health through this pandemic is as follows: turn off the TV and go sit in your yard. Soak up some sunshine & talk to God. Facetime friends and family. Use this time to find a hobby or just reconnect to things other than the media. If you see a story that concerns you, do your own research.

It’s time to mind not just your physical health but your mental health also.