Turning On, Tuning Out
I used to be a news junkie. The way that an addict can’t wait for their next fix? That was me with news. I consumed it as often as I could, I had news sites galore bookmarked, RSS’d, and I would continually be plugged in. I would check the Drudge Report sometimes 30 times a day, looking for that little siren that he puts at the top of his page when something is breaking.
If someone wanted to know what was going on in the world they would ask me because I would know what was happening day after day. I became cocky about it; correcting people about what was going on, because I knew, damnit. If there was a story I knew who the main players were and what they were doing and how they were involved and I could posit several ways that a story would turn out based on what I knew, and a lot of times I would be right, because there’s only so many ways that a story can end.
But it started to take a toll on me, I started having panic attacks, I was stressed out a lot, became irritable all the time. I had bad dreams, worried all the time about things that might happen.
If America goes to war with Iran, what can I do about it? Nothing.
If someone blows up a nuclear warhead in a major city, do I have any control over it? No.
Governments are run by men, but I am not one of those men. I am an everyday average person who just tries to take care of his family. I give them food and a nice place to live and guidance and friendship, but President or Senator or even Representative is not something I want to be, ever, because those people know things that I never want to know, things that our government must do to keep its people safe. Could I sleep at night, knowing what Senators know, or CIA chiefs? Would I be stressed out all the time? Hell yeah I would be.
And that’s why about 6 months ago I cut the cord. I tuned out. I don’t watch TV news anymore, hardly read about the news on the internet, where I am all day long. I unsubscribed to all of those Google alerts and news RSS feeds and any form of immediate information that was out there that I had been plugged into. I stopped listening to radio talk shows and keeping up with them. And I am a better person for it.
I know that the influential members of the media feel that the public doesn’t pay enough attention to what’s going on with the world, but why would they want to? When all we hear about on the news is Iraq and Iran and oil and global warming and how people are basically rotten and life sucks, why would you want to watch the news? All you’re going to do is feel crummy about things you can’t control. The media feels that it’s their job to rally the public around something, what I don’t know, but they feel that they are advocates for some purpose (that’s why the got into journalism), but they eat that garbage 24 hours a day, they are the junkies I used to be, but the average American doesn’t want that. There are things going on in this world (like Darfur) that Americans don’t want to know about. We’re all just trying to make our lives better in our compartmentalized worlds.
I don’t have panic attacks as often anymore, if I do I flip over to the local classical station. If someone asks me about a current event I hardly know what is going on with it anymore. Iraq? No idea. Iran? I have a vague notion. Global warming? Probably just a world climate change, and those have been happening for eons. Oil? Someone will find a replacement for it. Rotten people? There have always been rotten people, and the majority are government officials. But what am I going to do about it? I’m going to try to remain happy and take care of my family. That’s all I’m going to do, and I’m going to stay tuned out and deaf and dumb about the world because it makes me feel better.