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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

This Autistic is Quitting the News

I just quit the news.

No. I’m not talking about watching the news on the television or listening to NPR on the radio. I quit those a long time ago.

I’m talking about my app: The New York Times.

The pandemic sucked me into the world of news that I had long avoided. As an autistic person, I am an extremely sensitive person. Stories of others' suffering impact me deeply. I also retain images in my mind. It’s why I don’t watch horror or movies with gratuitous violence. Not only can I recall the images perfectly, but they also make their way into my dreams. After seeing a zombie movie, I had dreams of people chasing me and eating me.

I am very careful about the images and stories I take in. I even got off social media for this reason (with the exception of Linked-in so I could maintain my professional network and share essays like this one).

Line Illustration by Jackie Schuld

When the pandemic happened, new updates were coming out daily. I wanted to stay informed, but I didn’t want to absorb all of the other horrible information. Furthermore, my therapy clients were drastically impacted by new pandemic information and the upheaval around the 2020 election. I wanted to be informed so that I could be a more prepared therapist.

A friend suggested I try the New York Times app. And that’s where it began. That was almost three years ago now. I joined for some basic news, and now, I am at the point where I check the news multiple times a day. I scroll through the entire app. I tell myself it’s for the good stories.

However, even the good stories are biting back. Earlier this week I clicked on a story, “This Son Says His Mother is the Best Mother in the World.” I wanted to read a happy story about a son loving his mother. It turns out it was quite a horrific story that included the topics of forced prostitution, extreme poverty, and more. I won’t give you the details here because I don’t want to pass on the emotional experience.

Reading that story impacted me for hours. I couldn’t shake it. Every time I think about it, it grips me again.

I mentioned this to my sister, who chuckled as she told me, “You fell for the clickbait.” She’s right, I did.

I can no longer protect myself from the stories that will emotionally impact me. The stories where I deeply feel for the person, but there is little that I can do. The stories make me think of all of the connecting thoughts that lead down a dark spiral.

It’s time to admit that I no longer use the app for what I originally intended. It’s also time to admit that it is not serving me. It is hurting me.

I do not wish to be an ignorant person in the world. I do not wish to shut myself off from the depravity of the world and live in a bubble. I want to care about others and take action when I can.

However, reading the news is actually making me a more distant human. I hear horrible things and then have to admit I cannot do a thing. I have to force myself to not think about it. I have to soothe my emotions. Who is this helping? It’s making me more exhausted and lowering my energetic capacity for the people around me.

I choose to believe that I can be a responsive, connective, and informed human being without reading the daily news.

We’ll see how it goes.


Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.


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