I don’t have TV and it is very rare that I watch the news especially on CNN.
This time with the Japan quake and tsunami, it was an exception because Japan is so close to my heart, living there almost 10 years with so many friends.
I don’t know how to explain how toxic it is to look at a catastrophic image like a Tsunami again and again non-stop on TV. It was really scary and I thought about the worst case scenario for my friends living in Japan. Hopefully Facebook is not CNN and I could rapidly get the information directly from people living in Tokyo that the city had few damages and actually could check that all my friends were OK there. Thanks to Facebook we got the true picture of what was going on for them.
I have unfortunately tested the toxic impact of CNN in two other dramatic circumstances. I was living in NYC since July 2001 when the planes crashed into the world trade center in 9/11. I did not realize what happened until I saw the images on CNN. It was much more stressful and traumatic to watch those images on TV every 5 minutes than actually being there ! I decided to switch off the news and focus on my baby who was born 12 days later.
Same thing happened in 2004 when the Tsunami hit our tiny island in the Indian Ocean. By miracle nobody was killed and we were evacuated 2 days later to a Hotel in Qatar. I switched the TV on and watched CNN and was extremely shocked and much more traumatized by the pictures of the tsunami in Thailand than what our reality was. That was a true post-traumatic syndrome realizing that the worst could have happened to us, especially when we learned later that close friends died in Phuket.
I think of young children watching those pictures and parents showing emotional distress in front of them unable to do anything. I don’t think it is making any good on them, especially when you are an expat and your family and friends are not with you.
As a related topic, there is a very good video to watch from expat expert Robin Pascoe: