The current national emergency provides us a rare opportunity to balance our news addictions against a life saving “need to know”.
I have stopped watching/listening to President Trump’s press conferences. As a responsible citizen and an on again, off again political writer, I prefer to be effectively and adequately informed. A willfully inept, un-informable President, incapable of short form, coherent truth telling, is an unreliable source of information.
What am I doing instead? I live in New New Jersey and I listen to my Governor’s daily press conferences. A resident of the northern portion of the state, I also listen to press conferences conducted by the nation’s de facto, disaster-time-Commander-in-Chief. These past few weeks New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a straight shooting, well spoken, no nonsense, regional and national leader.
I also follow credible cable and network news organizations; NBC News, MSNBC and CNN. I frequently check my state, print news affiliate, NJ.com and I read the digitized New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and, from time to time, The National Review. For a macro perspective of all things, I often turn to the good folks at Quartz.
I care about the markets and the economy and have been known to frequent CNBC and Bloomberg TV.
To understand how Covid19 is being managed around the world I tune into BBC, Xinhua (English version) and the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), as well as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post (Israel).
These are my personal preferences. There are thousands of other, viable news outlets at home and around the world.
What else am I doing? I’m tuning out. I’m tuning out quite a lot. I’m tuning out more than I’m tuning in.
We live in an amazing technological era. We have access to every ideological news preference, every hour, of every moment, of every day. I think that’s an incredible assest and a profoundly useful, global achievement. I’m not a media naysayer. Sure, I would prefer current events consumers avoid the nonsensical, often destructive, willfully inaccurate content disseminated on irresponsible cable networks and digital platforms like Fox News. Nonetheless, I think round-the-clock news access is a good thing.
As consumers of that news, we have to have the good sense to turn it off. News is entertainment now, damn good entertainment. Good entertainment is only good if its consumed in moderation. If we binge watch twelve, waking hours of terrifying cable news we’re going to feel terrified. Within just a few hours we’ll find ourselves helpless and, generally, miserable.
We temporarly lose our ability to rationalize and we decimate our inclination to discern. We focus primarily on the absolute scariest of things, and that’s, pretty much, all we’re able to pay attention to.
When we watch hours and hours of the same horrifying news stories, we’re really just searching, desperately, for a nibble of positivity, an upbeat tidbit that we can latch our meandering minds onto. We find ourselves emotionally punch drunk, stumbling about, with an active remote control in hand, on an intellectual bender.
The moment a news segment comes to an end we try to take a deep breath. Then comes the commerical. Just as we’re about to exhale we find ourselves watching sick people, who look incredibly healthy, extol the virtues pharmaceutical concoctions; colorful pills formulated to cure a plethora of aliments that we don’t actually have.
Nonetheless, and sooner or later, tireless news anchors manage to deliver. They cover something positive. In our befuddled states of mind we unintentionally overlook the good news. We’re, kind of, nuts. I think that’s what makes us interesting.
Be informed. Be very well informed. Be informed every day. Then, stomp on the addiction and shut it off. Do something else. This Corona Era will pass at some point. Probably later, rather than sooner we’ll be able to return to twenty four hour, marginally harmful political coverage.
Until then, pace yourself. And, above all, be sure to avoid the nonsense news channels. Love them or hate them, propagandized babble has found a comfortable space in our society. That being said, and at this moment, it must be isolated into a National Inquirer-like, dunce-cap corner. Social distance yourself from it. It could, quite literally, albeit indirectly, kill you right about now.