READING THE NEWS AS MASOCHISM by ELLIN CURLEY

I have a very nice life. By most objective standards, I have nothing to complain about. Then why do I walk around with a knot in my stomach and a sense of dread in my heart? The answer is – I read the news. Every day. Obsessively.

Why?

Why do I subject myself to ongoing angst when I could be living a minimally stressful retirement? The daily workings of the government usually have no effect on my existence. Even a major international crisis rarely intrudes on my day-to-day life. The policies of HUD don’t interfere with my peaceful existence in exurban Connecticut.

News-headline-newspapersSo why can’t I stay away from the major source of anxiety in my life? And why do I feel anxiety about things that will probably have little or no effect on me or my family? Other than masochistic tendencies, I’m not sure of the answer.

I come from generations of passionately involved women who actively protested the injustices of their day. My grandmother protested against the czar in Russia. My mother marched for labor unions in America. They brought me up to feel connected to the world around me. They made sure I empathized with those less fortunate than me. They made sure I chafed at injustice and inequality. They made it impossible for me to turn away from deprivation and suffering.

My mother and grandmother were activists. They put their money where their mouths were. I’m not like that. I’m an introvert and slightly claustrophobic in crowds. I don’t do rallies, marches or protests. I cheer them on … from home. And I worry. Perhaps staying informed is my penitence for not being out on the barricades.

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

In the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, my grandmother chided me for not being a part of the protests that were taking place at Columbia University, where I was at college. The whole anti-Vietnam war movement started with Mark Rudd and the Columbia SDS chapter. Their protests were news. Photos of police on horseback clubbing students at my school were everywhere. The movement created there shaped the world for the next few years until the war finally ended. It also shaped my whole generation.

My grandmother said if the younger generation didn’t make a revolution to change things for the better, who would? I could have easily been a part of my generation’s ‘revolution’. But I wasn’t. It was a good one and I missed it.

So today, I read. I can’t stop, even when what I read depresses and scares me. On some level, I believe being informed is a way of being involved. I also talk to family and friends and try to get them involved with the issues that interest me. On Facebook, I take comfort in knowing there are so many others out there who also care about what I care about. So, I post and share articles that I think my online ‘friends’ should know about. Some of these people are genuine activists.

At least I can encourage and support them. It wouldn’t satisfy my grandmother, but it’s the best I can do.



Categories: American history, Civil unrest, Ellin Curley, Politics

Tags: , , , ,

22 replies

  1. At this house, we are on a news “time-out.” I’m sure we will return to it, but right now, we get as much as we can handle from late night comedy shows. Eventually, I’ll find a way to digest this whole “thing” that’s happened to the country, but right now, I’m still suffering from a sense of being Alice after falling down the rabbit hole.

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  2. Support doesn’t have to look a certain way. I felt your support and your encouragement stayed with me.
    I, like one of your other friends, have stopped reading the news. I read the headlines. I haven’t watched the news since November 9th…I can’t. We each do what we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At this house, we are on a news “time-out.” I’m sure we will return to it, but right now, we get as much as we can handle from late night comedy shows. Eventually, I’ll find a way to digest this whole “thing” that’s happened to the country, but right now, I’m still suffering from a sense of being Alice after falling down the rabbit hole.

      Like

      • For me, staying in touch with the ‘news’ is my way of getting control over the ‘through the looking glass’ feeling. I mostly read articles that bolster my beliefs or show some resistance to Trump and the conservative agenda. I don’t read everything – I’m quite selective. And there is a lot of resistance out there to read about!

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    • Everyone has to deal with things in their own way. You marched in NYC and I read and write. You’re right – we each do our part.

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  3. According to Erik Hare, 3.7 million people took to the streets. Don’t worry Ellin, we can’t all be there and we won’t be missed. It did my heart good to see so many people stand up for their beliefs. Personally I find this a very reassuring demonstration.
    Leslie

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  4. When I read, I sometimes consider the dreadful alternative of ignorance. I agree that obtaining knowledge in itself is a worthy cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This year we have seen the face of ignorance and the devastating effects of ignorant people voting. It’s sad that some of these people are actually trying to stay informed but they are going to the ‘fake news’ sources and are getting misinformation. Many Trump voters didn’t realize that Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing! They were Okay with repealing Obamacare because they thought they had their ACA and wouldn’t be effected! So sad!

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  5. Great point. It is important to read as a way to stay involved. We cannot have action without knowledge, and having knowledge in and of itself is an action toward a greater cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You said it beautifully! I have friends who went to the NYC march and I gave them intellectual as well as moral encouragement. By talking passionately to people about our views, we are helping others stay informed and maybe even get energized to act.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This article is stuffed with a lot of knowledge and experience. Great read!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those of us who cannot, for whatever reason, march, can at the very least, write. There are many ways to contribute and you are doing the best you can … and it’s a lot more than you probably realize.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for assuaging my guilt!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ellin, I applaud your grit. Is Tommy also following the news with due diligence? This old reporter has hung up his guns for awhile. I skim the headlines to stay informed but that’s it for now.

        Like

        • Tom and I both read obsessively. We somehow feel that if we stay connected, things can’t just slip away under our feet. At least we’ll see them coming after us and see others fighting for us.

          Like

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