08/18/2021 No news is good news

I stopped watching any kind of news shortly after the insurrection. Prior to the 2016 presidential run, I abstained, as well. Morbid curiosity, then horror, had me glued to cable news outlets for close to 5 years beginning with the primary challenges in 2016. You couldn’t tear me away. Yes, I have my political leanings, but I did at least try, on occasion, to expose myself to other views.

I tried again, to watch the news, yesterday. That endeavor lasted a grand total of about 22 minutes.

I felt that old anxiety and burning sensation in my gut start to creep back in. Changed the station to binge TWD, instead. Not a smooth move since there are a lot of parallels between the show and society today. Regardless, at least I know the difference between real and make believe.

Not everyone is as fortunate.

Case in point: The California special election to recall Governor Newsom. I just had to go get the mail yesterday! (There’s never anything good in the mail anymore. No postcards or letters. Not even the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.) The sample ballot is sitting on my coffee table as we speak. Reading it sickened me–from the rationale for the recall to the response from the party and Newsom, himself. It reminded me of how fractured this country is and why I’ve removed myself from the daily infusion of political hacks on TV. Oh, I’ll vote, but I am not happy about this. Not one bit.

And at the other end of the extremely absurd, the Citizen app is now announcing lost and found animals. There’s this “ta da!” sound that scares the bejeezes out of me. I installed the app during the protests over the summer of 2020. There was a lot going on very near me, like I could see the looting and fighting in the streets from my balcony on the adjacent block. I wanted to know if I was going to need to GTFO anytime soon. Thank God for the InstaCart people who braved that madness to keep us stocked up on groceries. It was madness and I certainly wasn’t going out in it–whatever substitutions they had to make we A-Okay with me.

Throughout the past 16+ months, the TV has been a welcome respite, provided it wasn’t tuned to current events. We’ve binged on so many great television series that brought us a much needed diversion from the cacophonous political conversation. And I threw in a lot of documentaries that we pretty awesome and filled in a few blanks for me on just about every topic you could imagine: history, current events, public interest, fashion, the arts, and more. While some of what we’ve watched imitates life, there have been other shows that were pure nonsense. And don’t we all need a little nonsense to give us the mental break? Nielsen, like Amazon, will no doubt hit the mother lode as a result of the pandemic lockdown orders.

I mention Nielsen because when I retrieved the mail containing my sample ballot, it also contained the Nielsen Ratings’ survey. I’ve only ever gotten one of these twice before. I dutifully filled them out since they had paid me for my time and everything. Now I’m struggling with the Angel and Devil that sit on opposite shoulders whispering in my ear. Two bucks? That’s what they send to compensate you for your time. I guess that’s nice, and it’s certainly a “raise” from previous mailings–the other times they sent a dollar. But it doesn’t induce my participation this year.

I found it appalling that the money was visible in the envelope’s window. I mean, who sends cash in the mail, anymore? Especially when it will likely be tossed in the trash, unopened, with the rest of the junk mail. Why not take this money and donate it to a worthy cause? The people who would fill out the survey, would do so without the two bucks, so I think the return rate will be the same, ya know? I’ll probably stuff this in my bag and give it to the next homeless person I encounter. Shouldn’t take too long once I go out. We have them here aplenty, now.

And as an aside, I think junk mail and spam will have to be it’s own post. I have much to say about that.

With my workspace now co-mingled with my living space, and no clear distinction between them, I need to do what I can to reclaim this space into a sanctuary. For that reason, the news being fired at me from the TV is no longer welcome. I will read my news from now on. Oh yes, I do see snippets of things on social media, but remember…I usually don’t take those things as gospel. I do my own research. So as I get “leads” on what’s going on in the world from Facebook or Instagram, I decide what’s research-worthy and what’s just background noise and then search for my own sources.

I know putting my head in the sand is not the responsible thing to do. But there’s no denying I get to keep my sanity: I get to close the laptop and stop reading when I want. Exposure to this nonsense, this fighting, this broken 24/7 onslaught of bickering is no longer welcome in my world.

I’m going to try to stay sane. But as a friend of mine once told me: Even a sane man in an insane world appears insane. I guess I’ll fit in. I think. Who knows where the line is, anymore?

Regardless, for now, no news is good news.

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