At least twelve dozen times in the past five years, I have sworn off news. I've declared that I would not let the noise and hate and endless streams of doomsday-themed lies take another minute of my oh so finite life. Almost twelve dozen times, I've failed.
I couldn't help it. I've been trained for years to crave conflict, to thrive on blood and guts, on shock and awe and pointing fingers and huge, sweeping accusations of horribleness. We all have been so conditioned, and it sells advertising, so it's not going away. My repeated failure to tune it out is understandable. It takes a vigilance more intense than I can muster. As long as I have anything to do with the internet or TV or even radio (newspaper - what's a newspaper?), I'm screwed.
Not so! The twelve-dozen-and-first attempt seems to be taking. When [Maris] and I went to the Outer Banks last month, for a week of doing nothing but staring at the sea all day and trying a new restaurant each night, we left our computers at home, kept the TV off except for an aggregate of about three hours (we had to see the end of the Tigers' sweep of the yankees) and kept the iPhone use to a bare minimum (weather, restaurant menus etc.). No news was seen - not a single headline.
It was the jump-start I needed. I haven't gone 100% cold-turkey, but I think this time, my great tune-out has a chance. I know only the most basic of news. Obviously, big stuff like the election and the hurricane got through, but beyond that, I'm feeling a little ignorant. I know that Mitt Romney made some comments right after the election that even his own party leaders didn't like, but I don't know what they were. I know that the University of Maryland is leaving the ACC for the Big-14, and most of the other local sports headlines. I know there's some renewed blowing-up of each other going on in Gaza. I think President Obama is in Asia somewhere, but I didn't find out until today, and that's only because it was mentioned on the radio, right after the weather. But that's about it.
I have a lot of work to do. It takes a concerted and sustained effort to tune out. It's a process. But if my lowered blood-pressure and stress level are any indication, it's worth it. If something important happens, I'll find out about it. Otherwise, I'm a "Walking Dead," "Sunny," sports and cartoons guy, and I WILL succeed. I've wasted so much time on involuntarily-received input that accelerates my aging and degrades my quality of life, and to my knowledge, there's no rehab program for that. So I'm on my own, here, but I think the separation might last, this time, so the healing can begin.