Mental Health Matters | Don’t fall for weaponised hate

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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People out there are very good at stoking up division and hate: but for the sake of our own mental health, we don’t have to play along.

Hello, and a very warm welcome to the spot on the Film Stories site where we stop for a bit, and just consider mental health, wellbeing, and just feeling a little bit bleurgh. It’s something we do weekly on the site, and will continue to do so. Across the archive of articles – we’ve been doing this for years – hopefully there’s something in there that might be of use to you, or someone that you know.

This time around, a few words on what’s going on in the world, and why we don’t have to join it. Nor, hopefully, let it affect us too much.

It’s good business to stoke division. Look at tabloid newspapers, and their ongoing skill in turning one group of people against another. Let’s charitably say that facts don’t always make an appearance in some of the headlines we see. That, or they’re more an inconvenience than the point of a story.

The current news cycle culture therefore is, rather than focus on things that are genuinely of concern – cost of living, environment, things like that – it’s more likely that outlets and individuals will stoke up offence and outrage over things that, in the scheme of things, may or may not actually matter too much.

It’s unlikely to have escaped your notice, but in both the UK and the US, we’re in an election year. That in particular has already seen the escalation of negativity. This isn’t a political article, and isn’t coming down on one side or the other. But it’s more a recognition that in election years in particular, negativity wins out. That it’s easier to sell fear and division than it is to sell nuance and positivity.

This, then, can have a knock on – whether we seek it out or not – on our mental wellbeing. I remember personally making a decision around 2017 or so to stop reading the news on a daily basis, as it was so much mud-slinging, despair and misery, it was giving me a sinking feeling at the start of every day. I’ve relaxed that since, but if it’s creeping up on me again, I duck out of front page headlines.

My only chance to impact the electoral cycle, unless I’m out there knocking doors for one party or another, is a mark on a ballot paper. My power is that. I use that power, and try not to get drawn into too much else. I don’t think it’s healthy, and I already see little in this election cycle to suggest things are going to be much different.

As such, all I can do – and all I’d advise any who feel the same to do – is the bit I have power over. And not to give attention to those who are choosing to get it by punching down, and stoking up hate.

You all take care and look after yourselves. This column will return next week.

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