Submerged

Source: Artofmanliness.com

So how do you handle the daily onslaught?

Are you wearing virtual blinders to shield yourself from the barrage of headlines and breaking news? Or are you smarter than me and just know how to look the other way?

I happily deluded myself for years that I dodged lots of bullets by not having children. I didn’t have to see temper tantrums, petty jealousies, and bullying, right? Wrong. Each day, along with you, I witness temper tantrums, petty jealousies, and bullying all from that dude sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I have zero parental experience to deal with this. The only recourse, it seems, is to issue a time-out command… to myself.

But if not a time-out, then perhaps a shrinking of my ingestion of news?

I think Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman strikes the right tone. He recently penned an excellent essay about how it might benefit all of us if we cut down on the amount of news we each consuming on a daily basis. I thought that actually took a bit of moxie on his part and perhaps the Guardian too for even publishing it. I mean think about it for a moment: Denny’s is never going to suggest to its customers that they should stay home more often and eat healthier meals, right? (I’m sure both Burkeman and the Guardian would be thrilled with my making that comparison). But all the same, let’s give the man some credit here because he’s offering a passage for some of us to calmer waters.

Burkeman’s piece is quite long, so if you do read it I suggest doing so under a blanket and with a mug of hot cocoa. He weaves a convincing narrative that news coverage is no longer merely background noise in our daily lives. Rather, it’s taken on a greater significance within in our activities, interactions, and even how we identify and define ourselves. It becomes the core of the irritation you feel as you read your phone while standing in line at the supermarket. Or at the bank. Or on the subway. We’re constantly following the news because it’s everywhere and now on nearly all devices.

“It’s not simply that we spend too many hours glued to screens. It’s that for some of us, at least, they have altered our way of being in the world such that the news is no longer one aspect of the backdrop to our lives, but the main drama. The way that journalists and television producers have always experienced the news is now the way millions of others experience it, too.”

Guardian Newspaper, May 3, 2019.

He continues…

“It’s easy to assume that the reason you spend so much time thinking about the news is simply that the news is so crazy right now. Yet the news has often been crazy. What it hasn’t been is ubiquitous: from its earliest beginnings, until a few decades ago, almost by definition, the news was a dispatch from elsewhere, a world you visited briefly before returning to your own. For centuries, it was accessible only to a small elite; even in the era of mass media, news rarely occupied more than an hour a day of an educated citizen’s attention.”

For me this resonates because it’s how I’ve lived much of my life. I started becoming a news hound during my early adolecence. I can remember sitting on the couch with my dad and watching two and even three of the Sunday morning interview shows, and also the evening network news after each dinner. My family subscribed to both Detroit newspapers along with the Sunday New York Times; by high school I was reading all of them nearly cover-to-cover.

When CNN started while I was in college, I thought having 24 hour news was a great concept. No more waiting around; it’s there practically on demand!

The Internet only enhanced my appetite, of course.

Until I eventually started getting indigestion.

2016 came and went, and boy have I had lots of ingestion since then. Anyone got a Rolaids?

Source: unknown (found via Google image search)

Now I find myself running from the news rather than seeking it. It’s everywhere. The web of algorithms, predictive matrixes, etc., all have me so figured out by now, that my feeds deliver content which keep me safely in the leftward bubble that I’ve willfully constructed. Any hint of a “MAGArian” point of view somehow invading my space, and I’m able to click it away using a virtual fly swatter. Edward R. Murrow and Pierre Berton are no doubt rolling over in their graves at such tunnel vision. Hell, William F. Buckley probably is too, bless his pure conservative heart in hindsight.

I suppose what gets to me more than anything else is the sheer urgency of everything. Yes I’m bothered by Iran’s aggressions in the Persian Gulf this week, but having to see it on screens while at the gym only raises my blood pressure more, ironically enough.

So healthy diversions are obviously necessary. Reading books and listening to music are favorite activities for me, as is getting out to exercise regularly. And, I sheepishly admit, so is trolling the internet, even with the obvious dangers involved.

For instance, one of my favorite time-wasting hobbies is to peruse YouTube videos of historical events like the Kennedy assassinations, the Potsdam and Yalta conferences, English royalty, NASA space missions, etc. I love history, and I also enjoy watching how all these events were covered by the news at the time.

Not long ago I was looking at the news coverage of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. I watched John Chancellor’s reporting on NBC and couldn’t help but notice how when he ended the broadcast, he did so with a reassurance to viewers that all of this would be discussed the next day; that there’s nothing yet to be reported which can’t wait until later. WordPress Gutenberg won’t play nice here and have the video start playing at the precise moment as an embed video, so please just click on the link below and it will open correctly in a new window/tab:

https://youtu.be/ghgORfFt_9w?t=555

For this evening, there really is nothing more to report.

Don’t you just love that? In other words the message was clear: everyone should go about their regular lives because the news will be on again tomorrow.

Statistically speaking, a healthy number of you reading this aren’t affected by any of what I’ve written here. You continue to live your lives unfettered by the chaos. To all of you, I bow my head in solid admiration.

Source: Cool Clips

But for those of you who are struggling to keep it all at bay, I welcome your solidarity in lessening our exposure to the madness. Take a few peeks each day to make sure you’re up-to-date, but then quickly walk way from the light.

And watch out for that screaming child too.

Until next time…

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46 thoughts on “Submerged

  1. I read the news every day so I know what’s going on and I look at two news sources of opposing views for balance. Then I shut it off and get on with my life. Unless I’m going to do something to make a positive impact on a situation I think about what’s going on, but only choose to discuss it with my very closest friends, I don’t think I’m being an ostrich, or to reference a post of mine from earlier this week, I’m being neither an optimist or a pessimist.im being pragmatic. Is this the right way? Who knows. I only know I get one life and it can’t all be going through the motions of the news cycle. And that’s the end of my political statement of the week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Somehow along the way your blog is no longer in my Reader feed, so I missed that post and probably many others (oops!). I’ll correct that, stat. Unlike how I portrayed it here, I actually do read some of the opposing viewpoints also; though that gets harder for me with each passing week, month, etc. I think pragmatism is a good goal for now — many thanks for that important thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg that happened to me the other day, but it was really bizarre….I saw her post in reader, and it had the load more posts banner under it….I clicked on that and went to get my tea so I could read it, and poof her post and being in my feed disappeared…which led me to managing my reader thing, but that’s a whole other post😉. I always tell my daughter to look at both sides of an argument and then make up your own mind, so I try to practice what I preach

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Marty – I don’t watch television and avoid much of the news. My challenge is that I live with a tv/radio/news junkie. I applaud Burkeman for his quotes above. It’s all about balance. We each have the power to vote with our index fingers and press the “off” button.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Donna. Yep, we certainly do have that power in our own fingers.

      Curiously, my wife was both apolitical and a non-consumer of news before we got married. I’m not sure if it’s me or her own distaste for the current regime that has ignited a fire under her, but she’s now way more attuned to the news, at least during the afternoons, than me. Strange bedfellows indeed!

      Like

  3. I look the other way these days because it was sucking the joy right out of my life. I keep my buds handy because ShortsSandalsNoSocks is a “news hound” and I don’t want his habit to infiltrate my bubble. I do watch CBS Sunday Morning but only after it’s recorded and I can skip all the drug commercials with their frightening side effects. I am going to request that ShortsSandalsNoSocks reads this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Now, you’ve done it with this topic. 🙂 I use to watch and listen to the news. Now, it’s not ‘news’ in my humble opinion, it is a talking head reading what someone else wrote or scammed and presented as entertainment. I have stopped watching all the channels except our local NH one which I watch for one 30 minute segment and no more. I see some national and world news as I pass it on the web. There are also at least six presidential candidates in the state at all times if I ever get the urge to go listen to them. I don’t. 🙂 I visited some friends who keep a particular news channel on for all waking hours. The thought of that would send me screaming into the night. I live , I garden, I sew, I vote. But, in between, I avoid most of the news at all costs or then I’d need to make time to see a physician for antidepressants. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine what it’s like living where you are, and all of those candidates every four years. It must be endless. It’s true that except for the evening national news (which I’m convinced no one watches anymore but me), all it is but talking heads… talking.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I watch the local news but rarely the national news. If something important happens I see it and can catch up but at least I miss most of the inane things our current commander says. I’ve had to do this for my health. I still get a newspaper so I can read it there…or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! Timely too as I was just thinking about how news has changed so much over my life, mostly for the worse, and that I have been greatly reducing my news reading lately. I grew up in St. Louis and we had two newspapers up until the 80s that we read all the time: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. We had the three network channels and a local one for TV news. That was it. Dad would have a big cup of coffee–black, no sugar or cream–and would read the news every morning and we would all listen to the national and local news in the evening. Today, there is only the Post-Dispatch left, and the print edition gets narrower and shrinks in content every year. It will not exist in print someday. They prefer the purchase of a yearly subscription to their web edition. The historic St. Louis Post-Dispatch building was just sold within the last year to be converted into condos or apartments. I admit, I don’t read newspapers in print that often anymore, preferring to browse through the huge amount of online news that is now available. News today is everywhere but seems a lot more slanted and suspect. Depending on your beliefs, you can find a news source that will back you up even if factually incorrect. News is more about entertainment too, especially the local news. Even if the world were ending via an impending asteroid, the local news would still run its morning spot called “What’s Trending on the Web” which reports on who is doing well on “The Voice” and what the Kardashians are up to lately. All that has me rethinking how much news I want to take in every day. No more black coffee reading a Joseph Pulitzer founded newspaper at home. Now, we stand in line at Starbucks and peruse the voluminous web while we wait for our double-shot whip-whip, reading unedited news posts, written by authors we have never heard of, on strange named news sites. “And by the way, you spelled my name wrong on the side of the cup again. Manager! Manager!!” Just sad. Now, with that being said, I will go back to the latest article on how $1M is just not going to be enough for me to retire comfortably on that just appeared on fool.com. I think my Dad retired on $5K a year in social security back in 1977, but newspapers only cost $.20 then, and the wall phone was only for talking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No sugar or cream? Now that’s a man’s man in my book 😉 Yeah, the quality of reporting from some sources is definitely in keeping with the lowered-attention span of the average reader/viewer now. Quality reporting is still out there, but it’s suffering in this hyper-competitive atmosphere with online “news” everywhere. And, of course, what people define as news is sometimes only opinion (i.e. the evening Fox News and MSNBC content). I’m grateful for the Washington Post and the New York Times really stepping up their game since Trump took office in their DC coverage.

      Now, who did do well on “The Voice” last night?! 😉

      Like

  7. A fine post. Excellent.

    And timely too, because I’ve recently withdrawn from reading the media reports. It came upon me gradually. I should say here that I am Canadian, but fear for spillover from south of the border. And that for months after November 2016, I was glued to that train wreck as if my life depended on it.

    At first, I would read it all. Hoping, each time. This will the the end. No? Ok, THIS will be the downfall.

    Later, I realized I got all the information I needed from the headlines alone. No need to click the link.

    Now, I avoid my newsfeed entirely.

    To compound the issue, my hubby’s office is next to mine and he watches the pundits and the reports and the late night comedians. Earphones to the rescue. On his ears, not mine.

    I wonder if I’m burying my head in the sand. Then I recall a bit of wisdom I learned some years ago at a yoga retreat. At orientation, the speaker explained why they followed a policy of no TV, no radio and no internet (such as it was in 1987.) “If an event is important enough to you, it will will find you.”

    I vote, even though I am cynical. I hate the fact that I need to choose against my party in order to avoid splitting the vote.

    I also believe that effective change starts at the grassroots level. The baby-steps variety. And that’s what’s getting my attention these days. Community and local events.

    Thanks for this Marty. It’s helpful to know that others are going through the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sage words, Maggie. I sometimes feel like I’m burying my head too. I’m reading the headlines, but honestly most of the time I only get to the second or third paragraph before I start to stress at the inanity of our leaders (though most of my venom aimed at the Republican Party for accepting this level of mediocrity and unlawfulness). I worked for years as a federal civil servant, so I really try not to be partisan since I experienced plenty of incompetence from both parties. But these are not normal times at all.

      I can tell you that it is gratifying to know that there are Canadians who understand and empathize! We will once again be a true friend again, and lord I hope it’s by next year.

      You’re certainly right that the most effective change is that grass root level for sure. Things have a way of blooming upward eventually.

      Stay sane, Maggie. And thanks for the sincere solidarity.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I only get one national news channel…CNN. I never watch the news. Shucks, I never even know what day it is most of the time. Not that I have my head stuck in the sand…I just can’t stand to listen to the dribble that comes out of those talking heads. Ignorance is bliss…and it sure keeps your blood pressure down as well. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I undestand, Laurel. There was a point in my life when I was a know-it-all who probably would have responded by giving you a lecture on the merits of staying in informed (charming of me, huh?). But that boy died a long time ago. Now it’s all about self-preservation. Stay sane!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was almost castrated once (or whatever men do to women) because I couldn’t immediately recall who the president was when I was born. I knew as far back as Eisenhower because I was old enough to understand things. The “I was very, very young then” excuse wasn’t appreciated. LOL
        You can bet your sweet bippy that all of my children know who the president was when they were born…lest they be castrated too.
        I have a general idea of what’s going on but I declare…it’s so damn frustrating. I don’t discuss politics but I’ll be damned if EVERYTHING is political now…and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t end up blowing ourselves up. That would sure shut up all those idiots, huh? Who cares about collateral damage? They sure don’t.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I actually had to walk away from my computer for a while after reading this post. I wanted to go on a rant that possibly had no end. It triggered all those pent-up feelings I have about the media and their role in dumbing-down the world.

    But now I’m managed to crush all those hot opinions back down and all is safe again 🙂

    Carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Got cha….When watching the news I often feel like the farmer in Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, who never having been five miles removed from the back forty, is asked to conjure a theater of operations in World War I France.

    But I’m a little surprised, that you Marty, having attended so faithfully the Sunday morning church of Meet The Press, Face The Nation et al, are finding it hard to cut this current crop of beltway acolytes a little slack.

    The here and now of these political times are testing our faith in the fundamental believes we have maintained in a functional democratic republic. What’s current is an existential schism. And like it or not, it’s a 24/7/365 chasm.

    That said. You are right to seek and find respite from all the riot, and advise all to do so as well. But I don’t think it too strong to suggest, that the events of just yesterday; a Speaker Of The House suggesting that a sitting President is in need of a family/staff intervention, while offering the President her prayers. The Commander-In-Chief responding that the Speaker is now crazy, and in the same breath suggesting that past and current officials of law enforcement and intelligence agencies are guilty of treason in plotting a coup against him.

    Now, I maybe wrong, but I suggest that those events would have kept Mr. Chancellor awake. I kinda think that John would have missed a lot of sleep covering the goings on of the past two years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. I think every member of the Resistance is struggling to find his/her strength to fight this increasing autocracy. Some days I have more of it than others, but you are right it is a daily and even hourly slog.

      Fortunately I have opened my pocket book to send funds to the right organizations. I do hope they are using the resources correctly. As much as I hate money in politics, I do find solace in the many autonomous entities out there such as AARP Foundation who are on the warpath against senior hunger and outlandish prescription drug costs.

      Your hunch on the previous generations’ news heroes is probably correct (i.e. Chancellor, et. al.). Have you checked out Dan Rather’s commentary in the last year? He’s been terrific.

      Keep fighting, Doug, and many thanks for the fine commentary.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Dr. Elisabeth

    Hi Marty,

    There are apps for that. We can download these on laptop, iPhone and iPad and I am sure soon we can monitor stress overload from our daily feed also on Apple watch and Fitbit to make sure we are monitoring and reducing our stress from Newsfeed (Top Stories & Trending) and the Clickbait to protect ourselves.
    The ‘Trump Trump (Block Trump Content) is available in the “app store” for only $ 1.39
    🙂

    Elisabeth

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was ill my therapist told me to stop watching the news because I couldn’t afford any more stress without falling off the edge of the cliff. I took her advice & could see how much it stressed me out. After that I learned to step away & noticed that very often when I hadn’t watched it fior days I would turn it on & it would be the same news from days before!

    I do believe that the way it is delivered is often designed to cause frenzy & reaction, after all they want you to watch the news again right? We may watch it today, then again we may not & neither will make an ounce of difference! Good post.
    Moisy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You had a smart therapist, Moisy! I think you’re right in that many of the so-called “news” shows (i.e. really opinion masked as reporting) is designed to inflame viewers to attract ratings. What outlandish things can be said tonight?! It’s a fine line between staying current and not having one’s head in the sand, but at the same time we all need to let it dominate us. As that wonderful song by Anna Nalick goes, “… just breathe.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Marty, You are right. The news is everywhere. My guilty pleasures are Jimmy Kimmel and SNL. A good part of the introduction is their take on the news. I am tempted to fast forward.

    I like how you zeroed in on the relevant 15 seconds of the Youtube clip. I see what you mean about John Chancellor’s quote, especially listening to a serious, calm, Fatherly voice.

    Your story reminds me of a lady I knew many years ago. She lived by herself in a remote area without a phone and no tv. I am not sure whether she had a radio. She was asked how could she live isolated from everyone and not aware of what is going on in the world. She said that if anything urgent happened someone would drive out to her place to let her know. She sounded very happy and content. Hmmmm, makes me wonder.

    Possibly, a balance. You make a good point “solidarity in lessening our exposure to the madness.” We feed into it.

    A great, thought-provoking, relevant post:) Erica

    Like

    1. I wanna be that lady, Erica! Well, maybe not every day, but some? It sounds heavenly to me to have that ability to shut down everything. I remember a time when the only annoyances were the voices of top 40 radio DJ’s. 😉

      Yep, definitely a balance. Perhaps that’s always been the case, but the extreme nature of our public discourse now demands that we find a refuge now and then. With my mother it was her crossword puzzles; except I’m never smart enough to do them. I better stick to my books!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ahh, I am usually an ostrich. I look at “The Skimm” most mornings – the top 5 things you need to know about the world. “We skimmed it, so you don’t need to” It’s for a female millennial target, a bit tongue in cheek at times, but at least I know the big things happening. And once in a while I’ll YouTube the late night guys – I think they’re funny. But other news – maybe the late night local to see weather predictions if something is coming up! LOL. When I started into more news stuff at the beginning of retirement, I just got stressed. So I became the ostrich.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey Marty, Like you and many of your readers, I have always followed the news in one form or another. Lately, the volume of my consumption of news has expanded. I think that we are in an unusual and dangerous time, and I want to keep tabs on the current state of affairs. It is also entertaining to see what the clown in the oval office will do next.

    Like

  16. I just returned from 2 weeks out of the country where my accommodations included no television and almost no internet. I have no idea what’s going on and I haven’t turned on the news to find out. This lack of technology was coupled with the fact that I was travelling with people who weren’t US citizens and who were afraid to bring up US politics. What a relief!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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