Islamic State targets US convoy in northeast Syria
Honestly, I did not need to look far on my MSN homepage to gather these news headlines. If I were a journalist or a reporter for the major news media, I would likely be on a diet of pharmaceuticals – some to keep me happy, some to keep me relaxed, some to keep me sane, some to keep me awake, and then a few to help me sleep. All this activity in the world about which I should worry. Yeah, let’s add some Xanax to the menu.
Tell me again how all of you maintain a sense of composure in the heat of national and international news flashing up-to-the-minute headlines on your media screens. Which drugs (or alcohol) work best for you? What? You’re clean and serene? Hmmmm, let’s talk.
I have a confession to make. I am absolutely controlled by a situation that does not involve sex, alcohol or drugs. Aw c’mon, please don’t run away. I need to talk. Every weekday night after supper I plan my evening before bedtime. Read that great book I’ve been wanting to dive into, write another chapter in the short story I am composing, listen to Beethoven and Mozart, get a sheet of paper and do that letter to my aunt, find an interesting episode on PBS, get into Netflix and rent a great movie.
It is all for nought. Around 7 PM, I am magnetically drawn to the TV remote, although I swear that remote somehow magically finds my hand. “I’ll just see what’s happening on Family Feud. Eh, boring. Ok, how about ESPN? Shoot, nothing but basketball. Well, just a quick view of CNN. Wow! Did Trump really say that? Got to go to MSNBC to verify and get details.”
I am hooked. More powerful than any bottle of scotch. Four hours later finds me wrapping up with Lawrence O’Donnell and deciding if I should keep on watching Brian Williams just to be sure I did not miss anything important. I know, I know. Where’s my willpower? Am I not bigger than MSNBC?
Ooooh, please don’t think less of me. Deep down I am a good person. I remember the days when I read the morning newspaper for my news and watched “I Love Lucy” before going to bed. I was a God-fearing Christian man who worked on the assembly line for a 10 hour shift, stopped for a beer with the boys, went home for supper and snuggled with the little lady to watch Johnny Carson. I was not addicted to instant news. Whatever world catastrophe was pending, it could wait until morning.
BINGO! There have always been pending world disasters and we survived without 24/7 news coverage. How was that possible? Back then we cared just as much about the riots in China and the tsunami in Indonesia as we would today, but we allowed those news events to unfurl at our leisure. We did not allow the networks to interfere with our daily routine. We had more important things happening with the job, the wife, the kids, their school, Pastor Johnson’s dalliance with Mrs. Brown, the YMCA, the local library, the latest cops and robbers story.
That’s the answer. Back then, my waking hours were not trespassed upon by images and stories over which I had no control. Watching 4 hours of cable news tonight will not give me 1 second of measurable control over what is happening. I can sleep like a log ( I was going to say baby, but we know babies keep us up all night) and catch up on headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper with a cup of coffee. That’s much more civilized, don’t you agree?
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I should, and wisdom to know the difference.”