Friday, June 07, 2013

I Have Stopped Reading The News

I give up. I'm waving the white flag. I simply can't take the punishment anymore.

I am, of course, referring to the news. I used to get my news via MyYahoo!, which actually provided me a degree of protection of which I was unaware. It did it by being a really poor product. Feeds would fail to load on a regular basis, refreshes wouldn't happen, and the overall speed was pretty slow. This forced a restrictor on the flow of news from the various services to my eyeballs. This meant that, on any given day, I would only be exposed to a small handful of big news stories that reminded me that the world is shit.

Unfortunately, Google had to go and upset my little arrangement. A couple of months ago, Google announced that Google Reader was getting shut down. This caused everyone who had been using it to make the jump to another program called Feedly, which became an instant superstar. Out of curiosity, I made the jump from MyYahoo! to Feedly, and ho. Lee. Crap. The feeds to which I'm subscribed produce over five-hundred posts per day. I would spend hours just digging through the headlines, much less reading them. I was completely unaware of how much stuff is written. Billions of words, every day, efficiently being dumped into a list of stories that, no matter how fast I read, never seemed to empty. There was always more to read.

This alone would have been enough to overwhelm me. The subject matter, though, was what pushed me over the edge.

From my analysis of news stories over the past two months, I feel safe in concluding that the world is, and I believe that this is a scientific term, fucked. Like, really fucked. There is no place on Earth that isn't fucked. If the government is alright, then that country can expect to be turned into a burnt cinder by global warming. If the environment is alright, the government is set on being as bad as possible. If neither of those things are bad, then the economy is shit. And in all places, at all times, corporations are trying to destroy us all.

The first thing that I stopped reading was Alternet. I like the website. I think that it is a useful website. But the constant outrage -- the fact that no matter where you look there is extreme injustice -- I just couldn't take it.

The next thing that I stopped reading was Salon, another progressive website that is lighter on the injustice than Alternet, but still depressing enough to drive me into the arms of a warm coffee for comfort and a blank wall for entertainment.

After that, website after website fell. I lost interest in my gadget websites because everything on them is being manufactured by slave labor in shit-hole countries. I stopped reading about cars because gas costs $4,345.92 per gallon. I stopped reading economics news because no matter our education level, we are doomed to a future of poor pay and no free time. I stopped reading foreign policy news because other countries suck, and the U.S. sucks, and when the two combine it's like speed and kinetic energy -- double the country count and you don't double the suckiness, you actually quadruple it.

These trials and tribulations did provide one positive thing, though, and that is a new perspective. Currently, progressive media has a problem: very few people read it, and even though the Internet is overflowing with options for news, the majority of people get there news from a small number of sources. Before this experience, I was as puzzled as everyone else. I am no longer puzzled.

Not only is it freaking difficult to actually access with some acceptable speed all of the stories being published every day, but the subject matter is so universally depressing that it turns people into shell-shocked zombies, incapable of integrating further news in any meaningful way. To truly know what's going on is to feel depressed and powerless. There are so many wrongs that need righting, and those in power, nearly them all, couldn't care less. It is a war with a thousand fronts. It is overwhelming.

Since I stopped reading the news, I've been able to get more work done. I haven't been much happier, because I still know that nearly unfathomable injustice is being perpetrated whether I know about it or not. I have been more capable of dealing with that, though. Seeing the photos of this or that catastrophe would sap every bit of emotional energy that I had. I would simply sit there, unable to do anything.

I'd imagine that I will go back at some point. I care too much and think it too important to never go back. But for now, at this point in my life, when things are so difficult, I simply can't. I can't be made aware of the events because I cannot help but care. I cannot turn off my empathy and sympathy mechanisms. When exposed to certain stimuli, they activate, and on many days, it cripples me. I cannot afford to be crippled.

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