My Multi-Media Addictions
I am an admitted news junkie. Though I start most of my days with at least two hours of silence before turning on the television, those hours of silence are spent checking my emails for…. e-News. I subscribe to The Washington Post (thanks to Amazon), The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, Axios, and Mother Jones.
Not that I read every article in those publications; I scroll through for articles of interest, which I read, sometimes save, and sometimes share to Facebook.
I am a Facebook junkie. Often concurrent with the news hours, I spend time catching up with my friends and family on Facebook. Again, I do not read every post, just the ones that catch my attention: highs and lows and frustrations posted by my close friends and family, sardonic humor, words of wisdom, videos of animals doing cute or improbable things, and “deep thoughts” (some of which truly are deep). Occasionally, while scrolling, I notice that I’m seeing an awful lot of political posts because…. I am also a political junkie. But I quickly become annoyed when many of these posts are the same ones I shared three years ago! [Don’t these people check the dates on what they’re sharing???]
Next, I seek out “likes” of my own posts and then become embarrassed by my pathetic need to be “liked” in the cyber world.
Then, and only then, do I turn to my biggest and worst addiction: television. Especially The News Channels. I listen to my favorite pundits, nodding in agreement or even yelling out a “Tell it, brother [or sister],” when they say something “profound.”
This Week’s News Nearly Pushed Me Over the Edge
Of course, when a major news development occurs, my news channels stay with the story and only that story, all day. And being the junkie that I am, I watch. All day. Or until I can’t take anymore, when I look for diversions. Like The Exorcist or Child’s Play. Somehow, fictional horror movies become my go-to diversions from real-life horrors.
But the real-life horrors of this week could not be quelled by fiction. How could they be, when the real-life horrors, in my humble opinion, originated with “The Arsonist-in-Chief” (coined by Charlie Sykes) or the “stochastic terrorist” himself, Donald J. Trump.
Don’t know what stochastic terrorism is? Well, here’s the definition:
stochastic terrorism. English. Noun. stochastic terrorism [uncountable] the use of mass, public communication, usually against a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically plausible but happen seemingly at random.
As I just said, it is my opinion that Trump fits this definition. I defend your right to agree or disagree.
The Twilight Zone
Pipe Bombs Mailed to Major Democratic Leaders Critical of Trump. This crime stirred up my moral and political outrage. That Trump and his Republican minions/sycophants could really expect anyone of sound mind to believe conspiracy theories that the Democrats mailed these bombs to themselves? I call BS. That incitement to violence can be blamed on “on both sides”? I call BS. I still live in a Universe where there is Immutable Truth that Disproves Lies. Where Fact and Fiction are Not the Same.
An Unthinkable Massacre of a Jewish Congregation on Their Sabbath Day. This aberration of all that is good, right, and true did not just stir up my moral and political outrage. This crime hurt me on both a human and a personal level. That “The Arsonist-in-Chief,” the “stochastic terrorist” could at the same time—in the same sentence—both denounce for the Nation and further stoke the fires of Hate in his followers nearly threw me into the Abyss! How can this man pretend that he is against anti-Semitism when, just days ago, he proudly called himself a “Nationalist”? How can he square spewing such venom when his own son-in-law and daughter are also members of the faith that was targeted this time? Never mind his tepid responses to hate crimes against African-Americans and other so-called marginalized groups. This attack should have struck any person with fear and disgust, as it did me.
Yesterday, while watching the news of this horrific massacre, my thoughts, my empathy, my prayers, and my fears were for my Jewish friends here in Baltimore, who were at worship at the time. From them, I know the anguish of having to even consider hiring armed guards to protect them from the possibility of such a threat. And I have seen with my own eyes the guards outside of some African-American churches to protect their congregations from threats of violence from their own communities, much less a nebulous threat of hate-crime violence.
The United States Is on the Verge of Self-Destruction
In my lifetime, I have experienced ugliness and hate against my own person, against my people, and against others of many different beliefs, cultures, and identities. It has rarely felt so visceral as it does now. The main reason it feels so much worse today is, of course, our wired existence: television, smart phones, and social media have thrust us into this overly connected, addictive world of instant information, emotion, and reaction to events near to us and a world away.
We allow our hearts, minds, and souls to be buffeted to and fro by whatever the “controllers” of the media want us to see, hear, feel, and act upon. We eagerly consume half-truths and bald-faced lies without checking the source or listening to our own guts.
We are both the creators and the products of this insane world we live in now. We have become both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.
So, how do we stop this madness? I don’t know. One friend of mine has announced that she is leaving Facebook altogether and is counting down the days until she disconnects! I must confess that I’m not ready to go that far, yet.
I have tried to limit the time I spend watching television (never before 11:00 am, and finding more “mindless” programming to watch besides the news). I try to limit my social media time (an hour or so in the morning, the late afternoon, and/or evening hours), and I’ve become more mindful of what thoughts and feelings I share. I don’t succumb to broadcasting when I plan to vote—that’s my personal right!—though I’m not shy about sharing my opinions. I break for household chores, phone calls (not texts) with family and friends, organization meetings, and visiting my neighbors to chat.
These steps, though helpful, have not cured me of my addictions or my fears for the wellbeing of our Nation. But I do know that in order to stop the hate and madness, we all need to step back from the brink of hatred, division, and destruction and, instead, look for kindness and love, common ground, and building each other up instead of tearing each other to shreds.
It may sound sappy and naïve, but ask yourself, “What is the alternative”?