Sunday, October 14, 2018

No News is Good News

I've been taking a news break for the last week.

What a relief.

I highly recommend it.


I'm sort of a broken record I guess. I was writing about the idea of letting go of the news 15 years ago here. In some ways I wish I would of followed my own advice. I've jokingly told a few people that the last 3 years have been the perfect hell for me as I tried to learn and understand what was happening in our country. Somewhat foolishly I thought I could dip into the stream of information, find the explanation and then hop out without impacting my psyche.

I subscribed to the local paper, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Guardian, read quite a few books, read lots of political websites, subscribed and read various magazines, listened to right and left wing talk radio and podcasts, watched Fox News, MSNBC, CSPAN and CNN. Some was very educational and I think I have a pretty good idea what happened and what continues to happen...but mostly I found myself depressed, angry and anxious.

I didn't have time to do that level of self-directed research while I was working. My interest was piqued when our current president announced his candidacy shortly after I retired. Trying to understand what happened to our country became a bit of an obsession and wasn't good for me physically or mentally.

Was it worth it? i think so. Being a citizen in a democratic republic requires a certain level of knowledge about current events, politics, law, business, economics, media, religion, philosophy and history. If you give up on being an informed citizen and take refuge in your tribe, hobby, or other diversions then we can't have a democracy. We end up with various forms of propaganda that; steer people into voting for candidates or parties that don't represent their interests, divide people to minimize their collective power or demoralize people to the point they opt out.

It's all fascinating and frustrating. I know I can reduce the frustration and anxiety by steering away from current events depicted in newspapers (radio/TV) and still learn from books, selected magazines and websites without going off the deep end.

I've been reading some books by the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard and he writes about reading the newspaper and feeling like he dumped a trashcan over his head...yeah something like that.

So I'm taking a break from the 24 hour news cycle.

Andrew Weill calls it a news fast.