In a recent conversation with an overly intellectual middle-aged person (because of course, I’m 45 but not middle-aged—oh no, not me), I found myself defending my local news ban.
He asked me if I’d seen something on the local news the other night. I told him no. Should have left it at no. But of course I elaborated, being a chatter. “No, I don’t watch the local news,” I said.
“What?!” he exclaimed, as if I’d just admitted to bilking innocent children of their allowances. “How do you keep up?”
Well, first of all—I didn’t have the heart to tell him—only old people still watch the local news. Anyone else who wants news gets it on their mobile device, PC or smart TV.
And second of all—keep up with what?
Does knowing how many people were raped, murdered, maimed, shot and arrested contribute to my life in a meaningful way? Will my knowledge of these events make them less likely to happen? Or make me happier and or more productive?
Of course not.
I’m not an ignoramus. I will admit to a penchant for turning on the national network (gasp—not even hip enough to watch the cable version) news some evenings. I know it’s just me and the old people watching (How? If it’s not an erectile dysfunction commercial, it’s for urinary incontinence or denture products. You do the math.) but I find the rhythm of it comforting. The gentle cadence of the anchor’s voice, the switch to a reporter in a far-off country, the feel-good story they usually end with to make you feel better about the wars and famine you just witnessed secondhand. I do keep up with our world. But, local news? Usually it just inspires fear and loathing in me. When the networks start to balance their coverage, I’ll consider tuning in.
For instance, why doesn’t anyone cover the myriad good things going on every day? The pay-it-forwards in the Starbucks drive-through? The Good Samaritan who mows the elderly neighbor’s lawn each week at no charge? The kids who bring some joy to the nursing home? Can we not show our world in a more realistic light? The media in general focuses on the areas of darkness and gee whiz, they grow. What a surprise. Anything you focus on grows. So, I choose to tune out.
I can hear the protests already. That I’m turning a blind eye. Looking for Pollyanna in a real world. Burying my head in the sand.
But no. None of the above. If the past couple of years have taught me anything, it’s that I only have so much energy. I’ve become a bit protective of it, to be honest. I need all the energy I’ve got to move myself and my kids in a positive direction. And negativity—from the evening news, to a gossipy coworker, to someone who just wants to complain about their life but never do anything to change it—saps me. So yes, I turn off the local news, anything related to the classless Kardashian clan and most reality shows. After all, would I rather watch someone else’s life unfold or live my own?
Call it fine tuning. I’m aiming for a higher frequency. And I’m finding it revolutionary in the most delightful way.