did you hear they think the mother did it?
yeah, i know. can you believe it?
no, i can't.
LADY 1 [ then to me ]
can you believe that?
i'm afraid i don't know what you're referring to.
the baby. the baby they found in river des peres. they now think the mother did it.
i'm sorry but i don't know that story.
what?! how can you not know about it? it's been everywhere in the news for the last week.
yeah, i don't watch or read the news.
you don't listen to the news. why-ever not?
TROY [ contemplative pause }
i guess so i don't have to hear about dead babies found in rivers that i had or have nothing to do with.
i marked the pause before my response as contemplative not because i was trying to figure out what to say but because i was trying to figure out if i should be honest with these two gossiping biddies. there was a time i worked to stay informed. that time was many years ago. then for about five years, i used to kinda follow the news, leaning on only one or two news aggregators. then, over a year ago i stopped looking in on them and aside from two personal blogs i follow, one by a friend and one by a very interesting soul, i don't routinely read anything other than books and a few subject specific magazines. i know it seems a little curious from someone who themselves maintains a website, but my motivations in this web endeavor are a little different than what most folks are after 1.
if you're wondering how i fare in society having little to no knowledge of current events, in the last twelve months, there have only been a few times, like literally two, where i've worn a blank face while people looked for my thoughts about some morsel from a recent news cycle. in those cases i've been able to smile, surely unconvincingly, and defer giving feedback via inaction. for however uneasy those scant moments are, they are not uneasy enough for me to trade the tens of thousands of productive minutes i've gained by not giving my limited time and neurons to a world out of my reach or dominion.
until recently, i've never heard of another soul who shared my mostly closeted news position, until the other day when a former student, who knows of my news aversion, sent me a link to this thoughtful treatise on the subject.
Around 2 years ago I stopped reading and watching mainstream news. I don't read a single newspaper, offline or online, and I don't watch any TV at all. I recently mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook and it created a lot of discussion, so I wanted to expand on my thoughts and experiences.
When I first started ignoring news, I felt that I was simply making an excuse, that if I had more time I should read the news. Today, however, it is a very deliberate choice and I feel consistently happier every single day due to ignoring the mainstream news. It just so happens that the last 2 years have also been the most enjoyable and productive of my entire life, and have contained some of my greatest achievements.
the above is excerpted from the power of ignoring mainstream news and i'd recommend the full read, which is rightfully short enough.
when people learn of my news embargo some like to test the severity of my ignorance. the only reason i learned that the denver broncos picked up peyton manning is because i wore a threadbare broncos tee in public a few days after the storied trade occurred (truth is i was highly disappointed to hear of the exchange, but that is a rant best saved for later lest i soil my good mood). and when people asked me if i knew who the republican candidate was i confessed, rather impressively, i did not. they were for sure aghast. when they excitedly told me it was romney, my surprise surely betrayed me. given my reaction, they asked what i thought. i told them i thought it was clear not many people in this country have read Jon Krakauer's under the banner of heaven.
or how about we simplify the matter further — what does reading the news and getting kicked in the groin have in common? — answer: i never feel better after experiencing either. if i've been dealt a usable natural gift i would say it involves an ability to identify things that aren't adding value to my life and acting on them (e.g. stopping drinking probably being the most noteworthy of the mix). and when the subject in question is as unpleasant as a boot to the junk, the choice is blindingly clear.
1 how my agenda differs from most web-producing folks is my focus is not on present day relationships. i'm talking to the future, my future, my grown children in particular (most overt example). i wish to preserve the spirit and mayhem that existed in their home long after they've forgotten the nuances of it all (which happens every day, the forgetting part that is). fact is, i'm finding this practice to be paying dividends already as i read this story ( is that a combo-meal in your pants or ...
) at our dinner table a few weeks back. it was long enough ago (six years) that everyone at the table had forgotten about it, including me. i noticed it in my archive viewer one day and a flood of related memories came back. when i shared it over dinner i stood formally at the end of the table like a child delivering a book report and read. the exchanged smiles and genuine laughter that filled the room, especially from alex, the star of the piece, were much of the reason i find life so awesome. for me, there are few things more exquisitely perfect in this infinitely complex and varied universe than unfiltered, in-the-moment bliss from a human, any human, any place. wondrous stuff.