NOTE: I wrote this while I was falling asleep, and kind of forgot which blog idea I was writing halfway through. I’ve left it intact below:
I’d love to do an experiment, but I can’t bring myself to attempt it.
Today was a huge news day. Some laws that may mess things up for a lot of people were passed. Someone some people liked and some people didn’t like died. Some people who some people like and other people didn’t like argued about things.
I’m wondering what would happen if I didn’t know any of it.
The news not only informs me of stuff that happens, it makes me think my world is much larger than it is. It allows me to be angry at the opinion of people I haven’t met about event’s I’ve never witnesses in places I’ve never been.
Fiction does the same thing, but at least it has the decency to remain completely fabricated. On that note, I’ve only got one episode of Terriers left. I enjoyed it immensely. The characters are “real” to me, but I know they’re not real. I almost don’t want it to end.
The news is like the biggest TV show ever and just like any show, if you ignore it you’ll still find out plenty from your friends.
My experiment would be to go out of my way not to hear any news for a week. I would do it they way my wife actively avoids trailers and discussions of movies she wants to see. If someone says, “Did you read the article…” or “Did you see the thing about…” I would bolt.
Would I be happier? I was fine wearing my headphones on the bus until the article about it making me a target for thieves. I still wear them, but now I’m nervous. Implanted fear.
It’s like the news gives us our scripts for our national dialogue, and our favorite sources give us our roles.
I say “news,” but in that I’m lumping blogs and Twitter as well. The “information about current events” engine I can’t escape.
Not that escaping would necessarily be a good thing. I would fear it. Participating in this national dialogue gives me much needed small talk fodder.
It’s one of the few things helping me pass as human.
Still, maybe some day me and my wife and kid will take a vacation in a yurt away from everything and come back with no knowledge of a week’s worth of current events.
Just my luck, it’d be a week so horrible no one would speak of it, and we’d be forever separated.
So, here’s my suggestion, if you’re contemplating doing the same thing: try to switch focus to your real life. Nothing in print or recorded. You’ll probably never escape all news, but let it roll off you. You’ll get a daily dose of disasters that have or will happen. People will die. People will make you mad.
Keep doing stuff.
Keep making art, going to shows, playing with your kids, whatever it is. I was taught we need to be stoic for the people going through troubles. Forget it. Have compassion, but save your stoicism for when the bad things happen to you and yours. The idea that you can’t be happy when there is something horrible going on in the world runs up against a problem: there’s always something horrible going on. You’ll find it if you look. Be an oasis
of positive action. Help out if you can, but don’t dwell on the horrible to feed on negative feelings. Don’t seek out those who disagree with you just to fight, because you’ll always find a willing partner. Move forward, be present for those around you, and keep doing stuff.
It’s how we’ll all stumble ahead.