Category Archives: News

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/

IMHO

 The Prompt: IMHO–Link to an item in the news you’ve been thinking about lately, and write the op-ed you’d like to see published on the topic.

IMHO

I gave up reading the news years ago. I just got too depressed when I did so. Certainly, stories filter through and then I hear the pertinent details or look them up online, but gone for me are days spent listening to and watching repetition after repetition of the same facts, many later found to be untrue or exaggerated.

So, this prompt is one that sent me out into the news Internet, looking for a story. The first one that came up was of the French pilot who it seems deliberately sent his plane careening into the Alps, killing everyone on board. Then I found a story about Korean twins, separated at birth, who never even knew of each other’s existence but who found each other over Facebook. Then a story about a woman who transforms abandoned Bratz dolls that look like hookers back into dolls that look like little girls.

Then back to President Obama’s Iran negotiations, a small girl born with two heads, The Voice finals in Australia, a letter of thanks gone viral, written by the mother of an autistic child to a businessman who had put away his papers and played with his seatmate for the 2 ½ hour flight. I flipped through dozens of other stories on the way: about the royal family, dogs, cats, a cow furnished with prosthetic legs and saved from slaughter. This hodgepodge was heartwarming, heartshattering, overwhelming, and two hours later, I had still not chosen a news report to write an op ed piece on.

I guess, instead, I will write it on how the internet seems to be substituting for our lives. This flood of information furnishes the vicarious existence once limited to The Soaps: The Edge of Night, Another World, General Hospital. I still remember the day Joan Lenzi came running into our room in college, tears streaming, shouting “Laura died, Laura died!” My heart flipped over in dread as my mind searched madly for a mutual friend named Laura, only to discover, once Joan had collected herself a bit, that a character on our favorite Soap had just departed our after-lunch afternoon.

No more skipping Astronomy to experience the next vicarious thrill. Without Laura, who was Luke? With no further excuses to skip, I dropped Astronomy, insuring the necessity to attend summer school to catch up.

Now it is harder to avoid excuses. When one internet heroine or villain passes from sight, there are ten thousand others to take their place. Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, OkCupid, Match.Com, Christian Singles, Pinterest, Blogster—ad infinitum. There is so much to fill our lives and furnish excuses for what we don’t want to do that it is no longer really necessary for us to assemble a life around ourselves at all. So long as we can somehow manage to feed, clothe and house ourselves, the rest is available online.

When I suffered a debilitating migraine lately, the first to know it were internet friends. My Skype near-romance phoned my oldest friend, now rarely communicated to other than through Skype or online Scrabble games. She talked me down from a near-panic attack and I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I wrote about it (Here) and had a flood of sympathetic comments from blogging friends. Another friend who lives in the town where I live Facebooked me the name of a medication that might forestall future headaches. No neighbor arrived on my doorstep with chicken soup or offered to feed the dogs, but cyber friends gathered round, giving me that warm feeling formerly reserved for a down comforter.

I had to look up IMHO before I wrote my response to this prompt. It’s a term often used in the past by my Skype near-romance. But every time, I forget this initial-speak. It’s as though life has been shortened enough. Emails have become Tweets and emoticons have replaced phrases of opinion, affection, disgust or frustration. Hyperlinks replace restatements and hashtags replace the social organizations where we used to gather for coffee or a coke and a good old-fashioned in-person gab session.

In my humble opinion, everything is finally short enough. If we become any smaller, we are going to implode. Computers now fit in the palm of one’s hand and I’ve heard of technology where one day they will be implanted into our eyeballs and transmitted to our brains. At that point, what do we become other than human robots? Perhaps it is all a plot by the machines of the world to be the next step of our evolution. Perhaps what the most far-out science fiction writer once imagined has become our world. In my humble opinion, we have gone far enough. We are able to know too much by doing too little. Experience too much by doing nothing at all. The time has come where observing life is more interesting than making it happen. Time to stop!!! But that is just “my humble opinion,” expressed as a full statement—railing out against this too-short world.

Note: Once more, my NaPoWriMo and Daily Prompt subjects seems to have intersected, so to read my other short post today, go HERE.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/imho/

The World Is Too Much With Us

People here are funny. They work so hard at living they forget how to live.”
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

The World Is Too Much With Us

How was life when we didn’t know everything?  Back when there was no TV and when news got shared once a day on the radio and once on the door stoop in the morning?  We were so busy with our own lives that we didn’t spend every minute of every day bound up in the ills of the world.

Violence was a neighborhood game of cops and robbers, but nobody really ever identified more with the robbers.  It was more a game like kick the can, where you were trying to keep something away from the other side.  Violence was not the point and when I look deep, I know that a game of cowboys and Indians was no more an expression of prejudice than listening to a World Series game of the Yankees against the Dodgers was.

To rephrase a quote from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), I have to say that people of the twenty-first century are funny.  They work so hard at living they forget how to live. I include myself in their ranks.  I am so tied to my computer that I panicked recently when I spilled a Coke on it and had to go a few days without.  My day felt strangely empty even though I had an entire ocean and beach spread out before me and a small town full of people to talk to, a porch full of art materials.  But, I’d become so accustomed to my blogging world and even to talking throughout the day via Skype to a very dear friend, that I didn’t know what to do with a day that was just a day in one place with one set of people around me.

Existence has become a thing that has no value unless I can write about it and I don’t seem to be able to write anymore unless I am writing into a computer and sending experience out into the world.  I am committing, perhaps, even more of a sin than those teenagers glued to their hand devices, texting their friends. They, at least, are connected to someone,  whereas I simply talk to my computer and send out copies later.

Who is most at fault is not the point.  The point is that connection with the world at large that keeps some of us from a simple and private connection to the world immediately around us.  We know so much about so many things we really don’t have much control over, that we have become voyeurs. The entire world has become grounds for our gossip.  We are fascinated by the gory details, shocked but in a sort of fascinated daze that keeps us many times from realizing that this is more than a movie. This is reality.  Someone’s pain.  We feel it for those seconds and minutes and hours and days that the horrible action stays in the headlights of this rushing vehicle that is our world, but then we pass on and it is as though one program has ended and the next begins.  We think about world events in episodes.  Off with the old one, on with the newest slaughter or murder or coup or genocide or monster storm or hostage situation.

In the meantime the minor tragedies around us sometimes go unnoticed.  We are so fixated on the stories of major tragedies on the other side of the world that we forget the real people and small dramas going on around us.  We watch nature shows on television while ignoring what wildlife still exists around us.   We suffer the passion and pangs of romance as onlookers.  Observing the great chefs of the world takes up time we could have been baking chocolate chip cookies.  Watching Honey Boo Boo in horror becomes a punishment in comparison to  sitting in a playground, watching children living the world in real time.

Yes, what I write is hyperbole, but I think it is true, to a varying degree, of most of us connected to the technical world. It is like a horrible accident passed on the hightway that we are told by our mothers to look away from.  Who can resist?  No matter how much the gory scene may invade our dreams and turn them into nightmares, we cannot look away. And now with TV and the Internet, we could spend 24 hours a day watching such horrors. And often do.

There is such a thing as being too connected to too large a world.  This is why I disconnected the dish network and cable years ago.  The bad news still leaks through, as does the good news, but in quantities I can take and that leave time for real experience and a perhaps misplaced faith in the world and human goodness and yes, even my own goodness.  I am beginning to try to spend more time away from the computer–to simplify, if that is possible in this busy cluttered mess of a life I’ve once more collected around me.

I find the valuable elements slipping away and less energy to collect more around me.  Friends die and move away both physically or emotionally.  This is the process of life.  But it is also the process of life to stay engaged in a real way and to fight for meaning and value in our lives.  This should not be so hard.  There should not be so much to plow through to get to ourselves and what is really important.  The Mr. Deeds quote, in modern context, might be altered to read, “We work so hard at observing and being in contact with the world at large  that  we forget how to live in that world.”

The Prompt: Silver Screen–Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the subject of your post. Now, write!

News Blues

News Blues

wars, tsunamis
murdered mommies
global warming
cancers forming
mad religions and heretics
engineering our genetics
drug cartels
emptying wells
mounting debt
nuclear threat

I hate to say it
but every day it
is getting worse
this global curse
and human capers
in all the papers
so all in all
it’s an easy call
I find less friction
in reading fiction!

The Prompt:The Great Divide—When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

Mind Freeze

  • The Prompt: Overload Alert—“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein. Do you Agree?

    Mind Freeze

    There is new news all day long, for every single minute.
    By radio and television, we are immersed in it.
    Even on the Internet, they repeat and repeat
    every warlike action, every athletic feat.

    We know before their spouses do when politicians slip,
    view every starlet’s nightclub spree via a Youtube clip.
    Stock market scams and Ponzi schemes and other news that scares
    as big guys pick our pockets in order to line theirs.

    Sans Blackwater and Monsanto, we would be better off,
    but we’d still be deluged by news of Enron and Madoff!
    We consult Wikipedia to see what it might say,
    keep up with the Kardashians a dozen times a day.

    It’s hard enough to keep abreast of those they might be bedding,
    let alone to know the date of their most recent wedding.
    Who has gained a pound or two or who’s the most hirsute?
    This information makes our lives a Trivial Pursuit.

    There are so many details that come at us day and night,
    filling up our minds until our craniums feel tight.
    We’re stuffed with sound bites, news clips and every TV show
    until it is inevitable. Something’s got to blow!

    No wonder that we can’t remember names of our best friends
    or what we came out shopping for or how that movie ends.
    We can’t remember song lyrics or what we meant to do
    when we came in here for something. Was it scissors, paint or glue?

    I am forgetting everything I always used to know.
    Every mental process has just gotten kind of slow.
    It’s taking me much longer now to ponder each decision—
    a factor that the younger folks consider with derision.

    Like-aged friends agree with me, for they all feel the same.
    They all have minds stuffed just as full, and we know what to blame.
    There’s too much information, and like any stuffed-full larder,
    to locate things within them gets progressively harder.

    If we could sort our minds out the same way that we pack—
    putting unimportant stuff way at the very back
    and all the more important things in front and at the top,
    we wouldn’t have to search our minds and wouldn’t have to stop

    to figure out the names of things or places or of folks,
    and then we wouldn’t be the brunt of all their aging jokes;
    but it seems that we can’t do this so perhaps the answer is
    to just turn off the TV news and gossip of show biz.

    The scandals and the killings—all the bad things that astound us—
    we’d leave behind to concentrate on happenings around us.
    We’d notice more the little things in our immediate world:
    the spider in the spider web, the bud that’s tightly furled

    and notice when it opens, and the dragonfly that’s on it
    and take a picture of it, or perhaps construct a sonnet.
    See the children who are hungry and instead of our obsessing
    on matters where we’re powerless, instead bestow a blessing

    on all those things around us where we have the power to act.
    When we see whatever needs doing, to take action and react.
    Perhaps then all the horrid facts that rise up in the mind
    will settle to the bottom and then all of us will find

    the keys we’ve lost, our glasses, and remember why we came
    into this room and how to recall every person’s name.
    And all the time we save we’ll spend on the important things
    and feel the sense of purpose helping others always brings.

    The world is too much with us with its bad news of all kinds,
    and all this information simply freezes up our minds.
    Perhaps with less input, there would be less facts to astound us
    and we could concentrate on what’s important close around us.