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Confessions Of a News Junkie



I blame it on the just-past election mayhem. I blame it on the ease of being constantly updated on a smartphone or tablet. I blame it on a personal weakness. Whatever the reason, I have spent way too much time looking at the news, opinion columns, and analysis of what is going on in the world.

With November 8th in the rear view mirror, I thought I'd be able to cut back. After all, the constant drumbeat of political news and non-news is over. But, no, that hasn't happened quite yet.

Obviously, the election of the President didn't bring a conclusion, a satisfactory ending to anything for a large part of the country. It only stoked the political fires that were already at a dangerously high level. After a few days of self-imposed exile, I was back obsessively grabbing for the phone much too often.

After a few years of receiving no morning newspaper I did break down. Waiting in my driveway six mornings a week is the Wall Street Journal. While I rarely agree with their editorial stance, they offer a good overview of economic news and lifestyle information. Whether I renew my subscription next spring is still an open question. Staff cutbacks and a shrinking paper indicate the WSJ may be fighting the losing battle of most print media.

Clicking on news updates and the latest from the stock market is too easy for someone who spends a few hours a day in front of his computer. I may be in the middle of typing a post or answering some log comments, when suddenly I have a strong urge to see what I have been missing. A click here, a click there, and I am gone from what I was doing for a chunk of time.

Interestingly, I don't watch news programs on television. Depending on the channel I pretty much know what they are going to report on or how information will be presented. Usually, they will 20 minutes or more on an individual topic, analyzing it to death. 

I receive no magazines that would be in the political, economic, or news categories. By the time the publication reaches my mailbox, whatever is on the front cover is likely old news. Magazines are fine for ideas for home projects, hobbies and the like. But, for current events, I don't find them timely enough.

But, the smartphone and computer! Instant input whenever my heart craves it. Google searches during slow plot points of a TV movie. Video updates from CNN. The latest breaking story on Huffpost or Politico. What the BBC says, from a British perspective, about something happening in America. The choices are apparently endless.

Even on the just-completed RV trip, one of my first chores was to check on the strength of the WiFi connection. Try as I might to stay away while I was away, it didn't work. A poor Internet feed could ruin my afternoon.

Betty has learned to warn me about excessive news input just before bedtime. She knows that last minute jolt leaves me agitated and keeps me awake. 

So, is there an answer to this compulsion, or is this a phase of my retirement that will eventually burn itself out? Will I accept that my checking news and informational feeds doesn't change what is going to happen anyway, it just tends to aggravate me? A line in an article in the Washington Post a awhile back seems to summarize my problem: "Through media in all its forms, we exhaust and are exhausted by the insignificant."

Wait,  I have been typing this post for 30 minutes...I wonder what I have missed? Probably not much.

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