The News is too Much with Us

 The Prompt:  Ripped from the Headlines–Click over to whatever website you visit most frequently to get news. Find the third headline on the page. Make sure that headline is in your post.

The News is too Much with Us

After an hour and a half of perusing the news, I am both confused and depressed and have found absolutely nothing I want to write about. In her blog, my friend Martha looked at the news, found froth and looked for substance. I found depressing substance and went in search of froth, veering off from the German airbus crash to a survey of Mitzi Gaynor’s life. What is wrong with me that I can no longer stand to face the truth of the world even from a distance? I will soon be reduced to watching old romance movies, no doubt, but I can’t help but know from talking to friends and acquaintances that I’m not the only person seeking escape and perhaps nature is taking a hand as well. Perhaps there is a reason why Alzheimer’s has become an epidemic.

May I excuse myself for limiting my world view as much as possible to enable me to still have faith in this world? If I look out my window, I see beauty; and this afternoon, I’ll celebrate the marriage of a friend/employee by taking her family of 8 for dinner at our favorite Argentinian restaurant. Perhaps part of the world as we wish it to be can be preserved by the simple living out of our own lives. For me, this seems only possible if I cut myself off as much as possible from the larger world as they choose to present it in the media.

Yesterday, Mark Aldrich wrote about schadenfreude, that strange but I fear too true tendency of human nature to take pleasure from the pain of others. How else can we explain our fascination with every detail of a major disaster? On one hand, we need to be informed, but if we look realistically at our own responses to the gory details, we will admit there is a certain thrill of horror mixed with relief that this happened to someone else and not to us.

In pandering to that side of ourselves, we fall in line with the the role that slasher movies, competitive and vicious reality television and internet games play in bringing our violent sides out at an ever-increasing and alarming rate. We are desensitized to the point that the reality of rape, pillage, war, tsunami, airline crashes, murder and the victimization of entire societies becomes little more than another thrill. We are so accustomed to horror in our entertainment that real horror becomes a type of entertainment as well.

This is why I disconnected my TV dish years ago and why the daily news no longer serves as my home page. My home page (ironic that a typo caused this to read “hope page” until I caught it and changed it) is now my blog and my email—things that I can control to the point where the first thing that greets my eyes every morning is not the news. Am I an ostrich, burying my head in the sand, or simply someone taking control of her own life? In the long run, I guess it just boils down to semantics, but the nice thing about a life and a blog is that if we are lucky, we have control over it, and so long as both of these facts remain true, I’m going to exercise my right, leave the news trapped in a part of the World Wide Net where I have chosen to entwine it and get my news filtered down to what inevitably seeps through to the part of the net I frequent. Controlled. Put in perspective behind the details of my own life and the life of my friends—where it would naturally be without the glut of information devices that instead of informing us about the world seem to have become our world.

 https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ripped-from-the-headlines-2/

16 thoughts on “The News is too Much with Us

  1. Martha Kennedy

    I love slasher movies, especially Dead Alive. Sorry… Same director as all the Lord of the Rings stuff, though! I think — for me, anyway — as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a better sense of my actual size. I can change the world in the corner where I live. I can endeavor NOT to make it worse. For years I earnestly labored to improving it by teaching others the best that I knew. The news has no bearing on that, in fact, it impeded my ability to persevere and impeded my students’ ability to calm down and learn. I believe we are all the actors in the universe and the news paralyzes many people. That makes it a great danger. “The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity” is something to take seriously. If the best are immobilized (by the news?) who is left in motion? Here’s a song. 🙂 https://youtu.be/ZA2371iADS0 (Kill Your Television)

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I have a friend whose son actually did this, about 16 years ago. He was ahead of his times. Can’t remember if he actually shot it with a gun or just tossed it off the side of the mountain, but I think his action was not exactly lauded by the rest of the family.

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  2. alhowlinwater

    I don’t know if you remember this anecdote or not, but Elvis was reputed to have shot his TV with a handgun! Maybe he just got sick of the news?

    Al

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  3. alhowlinwater

    I remember that this happened in 1970 or 1971. I didn’t remember it had to do with Robert Goulet though. I Googled it! Elvis shot out the screen because Robert Goulet was on screen?

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  4. Allenda Moriarty

    Tony and I lived without television for a number of years. We didn’t want one, too busy working, reading, taking grad classes, traveling. Our friends couldn’t understand it. One of the little boys in my class was so worried about the fact that I didn’t have a tv that he told his mom, one of the “room mothers”, that he wanted to get me one for Christmas. She let me in on his concern and we both had a good laugh. She totally understood when I told her why we didn’t want it.. After awhile, our friend’s parents getting rid of a tv and they told us if we wanted it, we could have it for nothing. We declined. They couldn’t handle that, so they drove up to Palatine and got it and brought it to our apt to surprise us. We lived on the top floor of a house and had a little balcony off of our living room. My fantasy was to have a throw the tv over the balcony party, but that would have been a strain on the friendship, as much as I relished the vision of its crashing demise. I guess it was not a necessity as my childhood was largely spent without tv. My parents got a used set when I was in third grade and we were only allowed to watch a couple of shows a week. It died when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I think I was one of the few kids in junior high and later high school that didn’t have a tv in the house. We didn’t get another until my dad won a portable with a 6 inch screen at a convention. Was a rather bizarre sight to see a family of six hunkered down in front of a 6 inch black and white tv.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Bob and I didn’t have TV for at least 10 years in Boulder Creek and I’ve only had it 2 or 3 years out of the 14 I’ve been in Mexico. I, too, didn’t want to take up time I could put to better use in the studio or writing. No, for the past 4 or 5 years, I haven’t had it…

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  5. Olga Brajnović

    I’m a Journalist. I’ve worked for a newspaper for many years and I have to defend the need of information and free speech. This said, I also am tired of bad news, above all when presented as a spectacle. I think it’s not ethic. You can always find good or interesting news in the right places, but unfortunately not making front headlines. This is why this prompt was so depressing.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      You are very right that there are more sane channels of the news. In cutting off my TV, I’ve cut myself off from them as well. But, even when my news of choice was NPR in the states, it still depressed me to listen to news all day, which is what I was doing. That’s when I first learned that my mental health depended upon just turning it off. Glad everyone doesn’t do this as I realize the world needs to be informed and I’ve often thought I wish I’d been a journalist, but I don’t think I have the constitution and temperament for it. Plaudits to those of you who do.

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      1. Allenda Moriarty

        We did not allow the kids to see the news when they were little as it was too horrifying with constant repetitions of violent images, murders, accidents, and militaristic bravado. We did let them watch Mister Rogers and Masterpiece Theater, however, so they weren’t totally removed from exposure to television.

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  6. rogershipp

    You forever amaze me…. I had a hard time fin dig anything to write for this one…. So I didn’t. But I did find Mark’s blog…. I loved his word for “enjoying the pain of others” … so true in today’s world. So sad, when I find myself indulging in it!

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I know. Me, too. It is human nature, I guess, Some little mean part of us can’t help but think someone else’s gain is our loss–no matter how fleeting, we know it is there and are diminished by it.

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