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‘Fun’ forum just what community members need

The Clark County Public Library will be the platform for a series of discussions this summer about how to make Winchester a better place to live. The first of those forums is set for 6:30 this evening as part of the library’s monthly Meeting of Minds discussion group.

Tonight’s discussion will focus on how to make Winchester a more fun place to live. After the community talks about how to have more fun, it can gather later this summer to talk about how to keep Winchester beautiful.

As Winchester Sun columnist John Maruskin wrote in his column Monday, the concept of fun can seem “frivolous” to some.

Admittedly, in a time when race relations, health care reform, travel bans and everything President Trump are on the minds of the masses, thinking about how to make our community more fun could seem trivial.

But, with all that going on around us, isn’t some fun just what we need around here (and everywhere else, too)?

A HuffPost article titled “What constant exposure to bad news is doing to our mental health” inadvertently exposed just why forums like these are important.

“It’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV, open up a web browser, or scroll through Twitter without being assaulted with notifications of a new world disaster (or two, or three…). Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, alerts of shootings, plane crashes, ISIS beheadings, crime, war and human rights violations are constant — and this incessant news of violence and destruction may be messing with our heads,” the article said. “The world isn’t falling apart, but it can sure feel like it.”

Technological advances, namely social media, make it possible for us to remain “in the know” about all the horrible and deplorable things going on in our community and our country. And, as the author notes, because humans have a natural negative bias, “which leads us to pay more attention to things that are dangerous or threatening,” we willingly and ferociously consume this information.

According to psychologists, this constant exposure and desire to seek out negative and violent news may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects — from general fear and anxiety to diagnosable PTSD. The constant exposure to “bad news” also affects the way we interpret and interact with the world around us.

This is why making concerted efforts to focus on “good news” or, in regards to the upcoming forums, good aspirations for the community is important.

Rather than focusing on all the negativity, these types of conversations provide a platform for open dialogue about our strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they serve as a springboard for action.

Having fun can become a catalyst for change. By participating in conversations about “fun,” the community can begin to actually address problems. As Maruskin said, “When people have fun together, they are more at ease with each other, cooperation becomes a dynamic of play, and it’s easier to be non-judgmental about personal foibles and differences.”

We encourage the community to take a break from the negative, put aside our differences and gather to discuss how to build a better Clark County.