Yesterday, as I perused my "Wall" of FB friends, I noticed one update that jumped out at me.
"_______________ hasn't paid much attention to the news OR Facebook for the last few days and I gotta tell you, it's been pretty sweet. I just wish I could "not" care forever."
IMMEDIATELY, that update got my mind whirling. I could almost hear the different versions of this post being written in my head. Titles. Introductory sentences. Themes... All of it. The "inspiration" (or is it more like plagiarism) felt good! I really have struggled with that since switching to the overnight shift. I said it before, and it bares repeating... Sleep depravation is a creativity KILLER.
As a child, I grew up HATING the news... 5pm, 6pm, 10pm. WCCO on the radio.. It was EVERYWHERE (or so it seemed), and (as a child) it was BORING. It interrupted my after-school cartoons and I resented it for doing so. I think that is pretty common for almost ALL children, wherever they may be.
But as children grow up the world around them (and their part in it) expands. The news becomes a bigger and bigger component.
Then, somewhere back a ways, the AVAILABLITY of the news increased. With the advent of the 24/7 news channels, and a few years later, access to Internet by the masses, news was only seconds away from you at any moment, of any day.
I think the news really started being part of my daily life around the time of "Operation Desert Storm" (aka, the first Gulf War - circa 1990). America was at war, and the news was a buzz with talk of reenacting the draft.
As the threat of the draft passed, and victory was declared in Kuwait, the news had become part of my life, and I felt I needed to become more aware of the world around me, and my roll in it.
As I continued to "mature" (a term some folks who know me will question), the roll the news played in my life continued to gain momentum. Married... (with children), and now in a career that often MAKES (or at least is IN) the news often (which involves talking to the "newsies" from time to time) only helped fuel the fire. Every time things started calming down, and the news' roll in my life faded a bit, big events like the Oklahoma City Bombing kept me going back for more.
Then, it happened...
A day that defines a generation. Every generation has them. JFK's assassination, the moon landing, and for my generation... 9-11-01
Who was not glued to the TV for coverage (for seemingly days at a time). Newspapers, magazines, radio. You could not avoid it. I felt in order to do my job the best I could, I HAD to be up on the news. I had to know the latest and greatest of the breaking news. Collapsing buildings, police and firefighters falling in the line of duty, rescue, recovery, terrorism, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, anthrax scares, the Second Gulf War... The list is endless, and frankly, it was information overload.
The worst part of it all? The news (and I mean ALL of it) is biased.
- The left thinks they "report" the news, and that the right "slants" it.
- The right thinks they "report" the news, and that the left "skews" it.
From an independent (lower case L - libertarian) viewpoint (and someone who often sees "behind" the news - and the facts that often go unreported), I can tell you that NEITHER side "reports" the news.
From what I have seen from my limited viewpoint, I have ZERO faith that I am getting the whole story from EITHER side, or from ANY network. Left, right, liberal, or conservative... It's all garbage. It's all corporate, bought by advertisers, and molded into the story the network, channel, or reporter WANTS you to see. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, I made the decision....
I can not pinpoint the moment I made the decision, but I do remember making it... I was done with the news. DONE. No more. Finished. I went cold turkey. It was not easy... at least for about a week.
After that initial withdrawal period, I found my mood getting better and happier.... The whole "doom and gloom" aspect of the news was GONE from my life... (and yes, BOTH sides are responsible for doom and gloom).
I do not go out of my way to "avoid" the news. I can often hear the news when others are watching it, I still subscribe to a couple of LOCAL (Twin Cities) Internet news feeds that I read (I only get headlines delivered - if it is worthwhile, then I click through to the story), and my alpha-numeric pager (which also gets headline news drops). I do subscribe to our local city newspaper, but that has less to do with "news" and more about community events. Other than these few "snippets" and "snapshots" of the news - I have successfully lived without a significant stream of news in my life for several years now... and I could not be a happier man for doing so.
Co-workers, my parents, my neighbors - they all ask me "Did you hear the news about" - and I can stop there right there, dead in their tracks, and say "No. I do not watch the news anymore". I can not tell you how good it feels to say that.
When I do hear/see the news, I am now amazed at just how sensationalized it has become. You would think that each story is going to end with Armageddon. Truly, if you were to believe everything the news is spewing out, it would be a miracle that we are able to wake in the morning to a world that is still intact.
Ignorance IS bliss.
Call me a fool if you want, but in this time of my life (and foreseeably for the remainder of that life) I would much rather be ignorantly blissful, then woefully informed. It makes me less stressful, and I truly enjoy the time I have with my friends and my family. There is no longer an undertone of fear, of doom, of "the end" that the news WANTS you.. no... NEEDS you to believe.
Your fears equal more time on the news. More time on the news equals more advertising dollars for the network. These networks have a vested interest in keeping you watching their news... With more and more news outlet options, they are all scrambling for the same revenue dollar, and to be successful, they need YOU to tune in to THEIR channel.
How do they do that?? Sensationalized, irresponsible, premature, and hack "reporting" of the news.
Please believe me when I say that elimination of the news has been one of the best decisions I have made for my mental health... EVER. If you are even CONSIDERING it, I URGE you to try it... Give yourself a month... You wont regret it!