I have friends who do not read the paper, do not watch the network news and definitely don’t have a Twitter account. Their Facebook account is primarily used to keep up with the family goings on. Since virtually anything that happens makes it to Facebook they might get a filtered view of some popular events. Still, I think many of them use it to just view and share images.
The point is with minimal connectivity and limited access to information, I wonder about the folks that intentionally buffer themselves from the rest of the world. How can you go through life happily not knowing what is going on? Software and hardware companies are desperately trying to keep information flowing, while seeking ways to monetize every fiber of our connected soul. It’s wild to me that some of my friends remain oblivious to a whole world of news. Once again happily.
Maybe people with less emotional investment to the events discussed regularly at the office or parties, are the ones who have it right. On my phone alone, I get twenty-five notifications a day that I allow. Of these, at least half are from news organizations and that doesn’t even include my Twitter timeline. I read the paper, watch the news and follow news sites on the web. I am inundated with information. Virtually any event of note causes me to want to discuss it. It’s natural. When I ask “did you hear about that thing?” I am amazed to get a shrug. I think what a charmed life to be insulated from concern. I’ll come back to this point.
The American humorist Erma Louise Bombeck said, When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.
My sweet mother assures me she enjoys the things I write. Her tone is positive, she is supportive, of course, yet there seems to be a but. She worries you see, about my cynical old ass. “Honey you often write about topics that put a burr in your saddle, but don’t write enough about the wonderful things that surround you”. She is right about my life, it is wonderful. I am blessed, whether I deserve it or not, in so many ways.
The tie in is this, I love that I have cutting edge technology that allows me to be up to the minute on news and the internet of things. But is the constant download of info good or should I filter more for my own sanity? Do I feel I am being affected by the constant barrage of terrible gut wrenching occurrences that just don’t seem to subside? Like sharing in the amazement of families ripped apart by a murderer in Colorado, spared by a single juror’s dissent.
While I am talking to myself and the four people who read this, when did news organizations decide that the only real human interest story is a story surrounded with grief? Any feed, show, article or headline that leads with strife makes it out to the world immediately. It’s these stories that overpower the “feel good” stories which often don’t get heard at all. If you think I’m kidding, keep reading.
I looked at a single day’s news. A simple web search using the letters of the alphabet. I collected the top stories from 26 states/cities. Alphabetic Letters with no state representation were substituted with large populous cities. Here were the results:
- Alaska: Alaskan Woman Mauled by Bear While Jogging With Co-Worker.
- Boston (MA): Former Boston Firefighter Charged In Alleged Extortion Plot.
- California: Wildfires burning in Northern California, hundreds flee as wildfires scorch.
- Delaware: Drugs, ammunition seized after traffic stop in Delaware.
- El Paso (TX): Child sex assault suspect may have more victims.
- Florida: Body found during search, identified as a Navy sailor missing since 2003.
- Georgia: Police investigating after two people found dead in a car in Powder Springs.
- Hawaii: Maui police fatally shoot armed man in Kahului park.
- Idaho: Semi goes up in flames on I–84.
- Jackson (MS): Jackson city employees begin furlough’s.
- Kentucky: Man known for Kentucky Fried Chicken has been honored with a new statue.
- Louisiana: Louisiana police officer killed in shooting was an honor graduate.
- Maryland: Maryland mansion fire that killed 6 accidental, report says.
- Nevada: Child involved in near-drowning incident near Maryland and Vegas. Valley
- Oregon: 1,400 firefighters try to contain fire burning east of Canyonville.
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania attorney general charged in grand jury leak.
- Queens (NY): Police believe dead infant was thrown from 4th-floor window.
- Rhode Island: Power outages affect 100,000 in RI including the city of Providence.
- South Carolina: Unarmed white teenager shot dead by police. Where is the outrage?
- Tennessee: Man killed by police in Tennessee theater had ‘significant’ mental issues.
- Utah: Saudi Arabian national pleads guilty in Utah date-rape case.
- Virginia: Virginia youth basketball team disqualified for having girl on team.
- Washington: Metro Delays After Derailment May Stretch Into P.M.
- Xenia (OH): Man shot on Xenia Ave. while riding bike.
- Ypsilanti (MI): Fatal shooting outside Ypsilanti gas station.
- Zion (IL): Zion Police Investigating Fatal Car Crash As Homicide.
Notice anything? I mean besides the fact that Colonel Sanders got a new statue! It’s no wonder I bang away on a keyboard blasting out old man acrimony. There is no good news! Ok, now let’s think about this.
My wife is informed, but not obsessed. She is no less concerned about the world, but is better than me at recognizing her ability to fix it. She’s the one who suggests helping the guy standing on the street with a sign, while I carry on about how he could have a job. So while I am riding an emotional roller coaster at the happenings beeping and buzzing in my pocket, she reminds me to let it go. Not to not pay attention, just breathe.
Apathy is not the answer, no one is suggesting this. The battle cry of human outrage must have a place or change never comes. I do think I need to parse the BS better though, and do a diligent search for something positive. Maybe that’s it. It’s so easy to reflect upon things that cause heartburn and get caught up in uncontrollable circumstance that the esthetics get lost.
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl
Why is it necessary to have to search for something good? I don’t believe the whole world lives day to day just looking for bad news. Why is that news the majority of what’s being delivered? Because it’s always about money and that’s what sells. It’s disgusting and draining and not new. This has been happening for a long time.
Maybe those friends that seem unconcerned simply possess a rational focus on the really important matters of their life. So I need to work harder, seeking the positive or accept fate as a curmudgeon. Only time will tell how successful this endeavor will be. I guess a viable alternative would be to heed the advice of my wife and mother. I could just look around more. I do have an awesome family with two grandsons. Good work Tuck, 1300 words to tell us your work ethics suck.