Call Me an Ostrich: Enough with Media Newtown Coverage

I learned about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on Facebook, and once I figured out what was going on, I went on a media strike. Why? Well, since becoming a mom, I’ve become a complete coward when it comes to reading and hearing about violence against anyone, especially violence against children. I know that if I watched the news, I’d get sucked into a vortex of sorrow and fear and anger and disgust, and I wouldn’t be able to function.

Let’s face it: what happened in Connecticut on Friday is simply the tragedy at the forefront of our attention right now. But there are thousands of just as real and personal tragedies taking place across the world each and every day. Murder, illness, starvation, abuse—it’s all happening, right here, right now, even in our own backyards. In some ways I guess it’s easier to focus on one horrific tragedy at a time. So that’s what many of us do.

But, since becoming a mom, I can’t even do that. I know there are horrible, horrible things happening in the world. I know this is true, but I willfully choose to ignore it, because I don’t want to become incapacitated by grief and disgust. I want to be a good mom, a good wife, a good person. I want to contribute to my family’s well being, and I want to contribute positively to my community. So I choose to stay aware enough to know that these things are happening, but without digging into the details or getting lost in despair. I choose to take time to figure out what, if anything, I can do about the bad things that are happening in the world, and then to act in a way that makes sense for me, at this time in my life, and to trust that others who are able to do more will do what they can.

I am lucky that I haven’t been personally touched by a tragedy like the one in Newtown. I don’t know how I would cope if something unimaginable happened to my daughter or one of her friends. But I have to put those fears from my mind in order to live life the way I want to live, the way I think it should be lived: being present in the moment, not fearful of an uncertain future, or mourning the what-could-have-beens.

The other reason I’ve decided to go on a media strike is because I think the media’s twisted fascination with these types of horrible events (and, most of all, the media’s unnecessary, but pointed, focus on the perpetrators of these events) play a huge part in the increasing frequency of these crimes. I cannot and will not participate. I don’t want to know the names of the people who did this. I don’t want to know what they look like. I wish we would focus our national attention elsewhere, so I’m doing my small part by choosing to watch, listen, and read about other things.

Here’s what’s on my mind today—after not watching, not listening to, and not reading the news, as much as was possible— I’ve been reminded that the way our society mishandles mental illness is abominable, and one day I want to do something to help find a solution to that problem. I’m frustrated that my friends on both sides of the gun-control issue quickly turned this tragedy into finger-pointing contest instead of looking for common ground. I’ve reaffirmed my decision not to watch live television news voluntarily ever again, except for historically momentous occasions. And, most of all, I’m thankful that I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with my family.

Eileen Youens teaches and advises local governments and government contractors about public contracting, public construction, and conflicts of interest. She also puts her litigation training to good use in negotiating with her two-year-old daughter. Eileen tweets at @eyouens and blogs at

Image via iStockphoto/Mihajlo Maricic

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Charlize Theron, Mad Max, Hollywood and women's age
Psst! You Can’t Handle the Truth About Women!
Betty Draper is Finally Likable. There’s Just One Problem With That.
bitchy resting face, resting bitch face, plastic surgery, cure for bitchy resting face
11 Feminist Ways to Cure “Bitchy Resting Face” That Don’t Involve Plastic Surgery
Mad Men finale, Mad Men and women
Six Months, 65 Episodes: What I Learned Catching Up With “Mad Men”
wife bonus, working mothers, mommy wars
Wife Bonuses, Mad Men and The Mommy Wars
Waco biker gang violence, Baltimore, Freddie Gray, police violence, police response
Waco vs. Baltimore: What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Betty Draper is Finally Likable. There’s Just One Problem With That.
Hillary Clinton, Common Core, teachers' vote, teachers' unions, student testing
How Can Hillary Win the Teachers’ Vote? One Educator Says It Involves the “Village,” Not the Common Core
Yearbook Quotes of the 2016 Presidential Candidates
Hillary Clinton tears, Hillary Clinton 2016, The Hunting of The President, Bill Clinton,
The Secret Weapon for a Hillary 2016 Victory? Channeling Her Inner Queen Elsa
Dad-bod, #dadbod, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, shirtless Martin O'Malley, politics
Watch Out, Hillary. Here Comes Shirtless Martin O’ Malley!
Baltimore and Freddie Gray, police violence, racism, racial tensions in Baltimore
The Real Action Baltimore Needs in the Wake of Freddie Gray
wife bonus, working mothers, mommy wars
Wife Bonuses, Mad Men and The Mommy Wars
Waco biker gang violence, Baltimore, Freddie Gray, police violence, police response
Waco vs. Baltimore: What’s Wrong With This Picture?
mindfulness app, designated worrier, mom as designated worrier, Headspace, Judith Shulevitz
In Our Era of the “Designated Worrier,” Mindfulness Apps Are the Future
Women in Science, NC State, This is what a scientist looks like
Women in Science: If You Love Pumpkin Pie, Thank a Bee!
yoga, work/life balance
The Pose You Don’t Want Is the One You Need
The author and her father in 1968
Coming to Terms With an Abusive Father
Mother's Day, imperfect mothers, imperfect daughters, mothers and daughters, family relationships
To Mom, Warts and All
Mother's Day, parent with Alzheimer's, dysfunctional families
What She Gave Me: A Mother’s Day Reflection
Amy Schumer’s Brilliant Take on Sexism and “Women of a Certain Age”
The Space Between Love and Fear
sexual women on TV, sexual role models
Powerful Sexual Female Role Models of a “Certain Age”
reinvention culture, Oprah and reinvention, More Magazine and reinvention, women stop reinventing yourselves
Reinvention Culture is Killing Me

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread