I was a news junkie. Gave it up about two, three years ago. Living in this world, I couldn’t possibly go 100% news-free. Some news slipped through when speaking with friends, listening to music radio and attending class discussions. But I did not actively pursue the news. I refused to read the papers. I eventually cut out most of my social media because it all filters through. And reading the opinions of people who never attended or witnessed the news-worthy event was often worse than reading the papers.
The only reason I did start reading the news again was to start blogging. I wanted to see if I had anything meaningful to contribute to the fast-paced, over-covered world. The thing I have noticed most coming back to it now, even just the few papers I’ve read recently, is that nothing has changed. Well, I’ve changed. But the mass media’s general approach to reporting stories has not.
I think I did what we all do when we become disillusioned with anything, which is to cut it out of our lives as completely as possible, even though, to be fair, there are still mass media outlets that do their best within the constraints of liability and ethics to report the story as blatantly and factual as possible. (Though this may change in Canada as I have read that Paul Godfrey got the go ahead from Canada’s Competition Bureau to buy out his competition and create another conglomerate by making the argument that this is how to keep Canada’s news industry competitive in the global market.)
Two, three years ago, as a consumer overwhelmed by the absolutely relentless fucking parade of constant news, news, news, I threw my hands up and walked away. I gave myself the gift of space. To get away from all the forms of sensationalism, from subtle to overt, and the chaos of echo after echo of fear response from many online comments.
I’m not a person who immediately jumps to the worst conclusion, but before I gave up my news fix, I found myself getting quite caught up in the nonsense of OMG the whole world has gone to shit, gone crazy, gone corrupt, there is not one good person left on this planet so let’s burn it down and start all over again. Numbed by the hopeless outlook that comes with being bombarded by one manic response to everything in life, I got tunnel vision. It became increasingly more difficult to see things from new angles. The constant rush of always having something to fear keeps us in a state of activated fight/flight response. No amount of cat memes is going to cure that.
In the space I created for myself, I became reacquainted with my own voice. And my own sense of timing. And I realized that you do not lose much by going off the grid for a while. In fact, I gained more than I had before. I’m not saying I think everyone should do this. But after gaining perspective from stepping back, I think we’ve all become so afraid of not knowing everything in this age of information that we’ve confused cynicism with intelligence. I’ve been cynical. I once thought it was The Way.
Cynicism is not intelligence. It’s a social defense mechanism against appearing naive. Because naive people are chumps, marks, disrespected know-nothing-flighty-losers who will never get anywhere in life. Who wants to be the one getting disrespected in a world where there are only two options?
These days, being intelligent is being able to see through the bullshit and to use the subtle knowledge culled through reliable sources discerned individually to make decisions that will lead to success, and that means keeping an open mind while navigating this global, 24/7 world we want to live in and the weight that comes with having such a vast landscape to cover. Keeping an open mind takes courage.
While being cynical requires nothing more than saying no to just about everything with a postable sour look on my face.
I do not have to say no to everything to make sure I don’t get taken. I’ve found other ways.