So Not An Expert

Why I quit news cold turkey

Once upon a time and before the internet...

...My childhood dream was to become a TV news reporter and I practiced my reporting skills and delivery in front of the bathroom mirror often--complete with fake microphone.

...I read three newspapers a day in college, memorizing nearly every single page because I was tested on their content every week in journalism class. Even spelling counted.

...I covered general news for a local talk radio station.

...I read the Chicago Tribune cover to cover (less the sports section) while commuting by train AND walking to the Wrigley Building every day. Hey, at least I wasn't driving.

(As a young editor, I was once criticized by the publisher for not reading that sports section. Well, I don't particularly like reading about <or watching> sports and all of the pre-coverage, coverage, and post coverage that seems to go along with it.

I should have told him that, along with the promise that I would consider diligently reading about the Cubs once he would read in great detail the food section.)

...I shortchanged my knowledge of popular song, scanning past music in favor of news on the radio.

How true.

Suffice it to say, I liked my news.

Then I had kids. Ooooooonnnnne right after the other and I stopped news cold turkey.

Why? Because whenever my husband turned on the nightly news (he, because I never touch the TV--I'm not sure I even know how), we were faced with bad news. Another murder, bad weather, a growing national debt, inflation.

Nothing about the news seemed good. It saddened me. Plus, I didn't feel I had the time.

So I buried my head in the sand, took care of my children, stuck my hand out the window to feel the day's temperature, avoided unsafe places, and shopped for sale-priced food.

Maybe I was depressed, my doctor thought. So I agreed to take three month's worth of antidepressants.

Talk about feeling like a robot. Not a care in the world, I had. Nor, did I have a feeling, happy, sad, or otherwise. My husband wondered where in the world his fiesty wife had gone.

At the very least, I figured, it was safe to tune back into TV news. Then came the coverage about depressed moms murdering their children, scaring the shit out of me. Off it went again.

I woke up in the night wondering if that could happen to me.

I'd also given up scary and violent movies during this time, afraid that filling my head with such tragedy would result in creating a tragedy myself.

After all, I am one to pick up foul language after hanging around a friend who swears a lot. I also unconsciously repeat statements from my parents I swore as a kid I'd never use.

Neurotic? Maybe. I don't even spank my kids, and love them with all my heart. But playing it safe, this avoidance of unpleasantries? You betcha.

Honestly, I was happier having done so. I might have been a bit clueless, but I was without a doubt more content, and a more relaxed mom.

If all this anxiety after watching violence can happen to an adult, don't you think it could happen to a kid? That's why my kids didn't see much of that sort of thing (besides Disney movies) until they were much, much older.

Slowly but surely I'm making my way back into this complicated world we share. Still, I gravitate toward the soft news, glossing over the more hard stuff.

Can't we all do some good things, resulting in some good news coverage that gives us something useful to read about and watch?

Not that I mind feeling my feelings. I just prefer to feel more of the positive ones, that's all.

Have you ever refused to pay attention to the news?

'Twas a Facebook question about political apathy from fellow blogger Michael Ciric that brought back these memories. Check out his blog for some non-partisan commentary on Chicago politics.

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