Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back and Forth

As I draw near the starting line of this experiment, I have two competing emotions. These feelings come, they go.

Some days I can’t wait to shut down all news. I see myself as a binge consumer of others' tragedies who now staggers with regrets and is ready to go sober. I'm ready to swear off the world and its free supply of libations that intoxicate the mind with images and words about collisions and disasters rippling across the earth’s crust, even deep into the ocean where the oil has plumed and spread, all of it leaving the poor decisively poorer, the helpless without solace, and the rest of us despairing or worrying.

As if that’s not bad enough there is the ongoing antagonism of groups of humans toward other groups. Choose your corner of the world. There seem to be people picking on others, disputing with them, and when it comes down to it, almost happy to spill blood in the name of their cause because they are so sure they are right and everyone else is wrong.

Then there’s the preposterous vanity of our species which arrives in an unending parade of new entertainments and opportunities that are supposed to incite us to hand over our money and our time for the privilege of being distracted and pretending that this fill in the blank (apparel, movies, TV show, song, game, gadget) is just too wonderful! Doesn’t it make us so happy?

And I’m sitting here thinking, Please be quiet, don’t tell me anymore.

The problem is that a few hours later I find myself on the other side of the knowledge divide.

Suddenly I’m almost frightened of what’s about to take place. I’m going to become uninformed. I’ll join those people who are habitually so out of touch that they can’t name their state’s senators or a single congressman. Why I might soon be walking in solidarity with those very folks who during one of those Tonight Show outdoor interview bits couldn’t tell Jay Leno who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But every one of them knew who lives in a pineapple under the sea. Duh, Sponge Bob.

As I write this I find my fear of being cut off from the news having the upper hand. This drives me to extreme measures.

Like a junkie whose last stash is about to be flushed before the cops arrive, I catch myself running into the other room and mainlining what remains of my access to information and media.

Where is that last issue of Newsweek I haven’t gotten to read? What will I find if I probe beyond just the home page of today’s New York Times on-line? Let’s not just watch the 5:30 network news, let’s catch the 10:00 o’clock local, too. Even though the smooth jazz (doo-doo-doo-duh-doodoo...) and heraldic (Dah-dah-dah-dah...) theme music is state-of-the-art annoying, I’ve begun tuning in Morning Edition and All Things Considered when I'm in the car. Yes, oh yes, I’m saving up for a newsless day—

What did I just say? A day without news? I can hardly wait!

As I said. I go back. And forth.

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