Blogger’s Note (unnecessary): This Second Third post was supposed to come before last week’s post. Last week’s post wasn’t posted until yesterday. And both are a slow build of sorts, toward a completely different post that needs more time and stewing. In my head, it’s going to be great.
I mentioned in “Less TV Is Good TV” that I used to love to watch This Week with Sam and Cokie. I used to devour news: I worked as a journalist, then as a media relations manager; I watched Peter Jennings (and sometimes Tom Brokaw); I listened to Morning Edition and All Things Considered and supported NPR with my ears and my dollars. I daydreamed about launching a Slashdot-style web site trafficking in political news and rumors instead of tech stuff. I even had a name and a URL at one time: Rabblerooster. Get it? Like a “rabble-rouser” combined with a rooster…wake up and smell the coffee!
I used to get emotionally wrapped up in the news. Still do, in fact. I get angry, or choked up, or joyfully buoyant based on things happening half a world away, to complete strangers. And that’s beautiful…to a point. But over time I’ve come to realize that A) we’ve got plenty of news and compelling stories unfolding right next to us, and B) nobody’s got the straight scoop, so nobody’s giving it. I’d get riled about stories that were only half true, and wonder what I could really know for sure about what’s going on in the world…then realize that the only thing I can really understand and influence is what’s going on with me, right here, and to a lesser extent, with my family, neighborhood, and community. As a result, I installed tighter filters and began to tune out.
The timing was perfect, actually. TV news is entertainment now, and there are so many faster, easier sources of information. I try to track a variety of online news sources enough to keep tabs on what’s happening out there, and when something catches my eye or interest, I try to read accounts from the Right and the Left, then make sense of it myself. And I ignore a lot more “news” that I once would’ve obsessed over. And my heart is at peace.
I rarely watch TV news at all anymore. (I did flip it on the other night; I was in bed, setting my cell-phone alarm, when a friend posted something on Facebook about Bin Laden’s death. My laptop was already packed up for the morning commute, so I flipped on the tube.) I still listen to the news on the radio — I’ve always been an auditory learner (hence my regular attendance of college classes and lack of reading) and love good radio — but today I balance my NPR with Relevant Radio and Garage Logic, and keep my filters clean. And sometimes I willfully secede from the news stream. On a beautiful spring day like this one, for example, no news is good news.