Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Obligatory Response to the News

You will not hear me say this often, but every once in a while, something happens and it’s so big, so complicated, and so overwhelming that I’m actually slightly relieved that my paycheck doesn’t depend upon me writing about it.  What could I possibly say?  Where would I start?

Gun control?  I could talk at length about the obvious…  Or I could talk about how astonishing it is to watch politicians – some of them quite conservative – shake away the fog and admit it’s time to change.  (I could even keep it strictly solipsistic and discuss what an awful coincidence it is that in the post before this one, I made a crack about lunatics still being able to get their hands on guns.)

Mental health?  The “somebody had to know” mentality sweeps us all after these things happen and right on schedule, a mother who “knows” reached out to us, the public, for help.  I could talk about that, about how the media is sanctimoniously filing her blog post under the heading of Starting a Conversation.  But a conversation about what?  (About how idiotic commenters are on the internet?)

News coverage?  It’s always the same:  wall-to-wall, then talking about how wall-to-wall doesn’t help anyone, then talking about how talking about how wall-to-wall doesn’t help anyone is distracting from the bigger picture, then discussions of “tragedy porn” (and its close cousin “disaster porn”) and how dragging it out makes it worse but in merely talking about it, we’re dragging it out, so around the circle we go again…

What if I skipped it all together?  What if I talked about my NBC war correspondent boyfriend Richard Engel, and how learning he’d “gone missing” yesterday dropped my heart right out of my chest?  Or about how I sighed in heavy relief upon learning this morning that he’s okay? (Or maybe I should talk about emotional attachment to the people who bring us the news.)

I could talk about my weariness of the “fiscal cliff” and how my head aches with every mention of this utterly made-up (and, let's be honest here, lame) conundrum.  I could talk about how re-watching An Inconvenient Truth a couple of nights ago reminded me of what’s really at stake, beyond our anthropomorphic thinking on absolutely freaking everything.

I could talk about “information overload,” and how the course I’m listening to right now on 20th century philosophy rightly questions whether this inundation is shaking us at the very core in how we define the “self.”

I could write a hell of a lot of things, and I could mean every word I wrote about all of it, and by the time I hit “publish,” there'd be something else to talk about.  There's just so much out there.

This time, I want to take the road less traveled.  When everyone else is talking, sometimes the best thing to do is be quiet.

I’ll be back with a (lighthearted!) Christmas post…but in the meantime, it’s my holiday wish for all of you that, every now and then, you give yourself the gift of turning off the news.


  1. Alright, I know I said I was relieved to not have to come up with something to say about all of this, but a part of me is maybe a little jealous that national columnist Kathleen Parker did get paid for a piece that ran today that matched me pretty much point for point!!