I can’t watch TV news anymore.
I used to be a news junkie, a control freak who thought that by knowing everything that was going on everywhere in the world I could somehow control it. Hah! Was that ever a naïve view.
Having worked in local and network newsrooms, what was coming over the AP and UPI newswires was like heroin for my news habit.
I used to read two or three newspapers a day, listen to CBS Radio Network news almost hourly and never miss the networks evening newscasts … at least two or three of them a night, including the BBC.
But now, I know that none of that matters. My world has shrunk to the size of my house and I don’t need to know anything happening in the world that doesn’t directly affect me and my family.
It was Simon & Garfunkel, who said, “I get the news I need on the weather report.’ My information consumption pattern is only slight larger now. But it’s only “news I can use”… news I need to know.
Are my town’s parks still open? What hours is the grocery store open? Are my immediate neighbors OK? Is my family alright? That’s hyperlocal news.
I am so tired of watching CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell start every newscast with an emphatic “Breaking News!”, only to regurgitate hours-old stories that could be “news” only to someone living under a rock. And I won’t even go near CNN or Fox News. Their coverage is purposely designed to scare me and keep me tuned in for more.
I don’t trust TV news anymore. Not the networks, not the local Connecticut stations and certainly not our local cable company’s offering. So I’m not watching any of it.
And forget about the rumor-mongering on social media. “Unfriend” and “unfollow” are my defensive mechanisms there.
But I still read the papers, on paper and online. I try to catch New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings and anything that Dr. Fauci has to say. C-Span and CT-N are my few remaining “reality TV” options as they are unfiltered and non-opinionated. Just give me the facts. Don’t tell me how to think.
(At this point, dear reader, you can stop reading this screed if you think I’m telling you how to think … but you’ll miss the good part.)
Over 30 years ago I changed my life in a program led by a simple prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept those things I cannot change. The courage to change those I can … and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s known as The Serenity Prayer and it has brought me a lot of inner peace in the past few weeks.
I know I’m not in control in this crisis, beyond protecting my family and myself as best I can. I can’t change this virus, its lethality or effect on my community.
But I can keep my social distance, maintain my immune system, get plenty of rest and just take this world one day at a time. Beyond that, I’m resigned to my fate and I hope that’s a sign of wisdom.
There’s no planning for the future … next week or next month. It’s just making the most out of every single day.
And by avoiding the hysteria of TV news, my shrinking world seems a little less crazy and a lot more calm. And that’s kinda nice.
Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media.
About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at [email protected] For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com