OVERCOMING MY NEWS ADDICTION – By ELLIN CURLEY

I confess. I became a news addict. A true junkie.

The first thing I did every morning is to reach for the phone and check out the Washington Post to see what Trump has done while I was sleeping. The headlines tell me whether I’m going to have a peaceful day focused on my own life, or a stressful day glued to the 24-hour news shows on TV.

My husband, Tom, is worse than I am. He has MSNBC on the TV or his computer playing in the background, if not the foreground, pretty much all day. He only takes a breather when he’s playing video games or Beat Saver (an exercise game). On a big news day, we often drop everything and watch one pundit heavy show after another. I’m not proud of this but it seems to make me feel more in control – like I actually have a handle on what’s going on. I am clearly suffering from Trump Trauma and Anxiety, which is a form of PTSD that psychiatrists are calling a real syndrome that they see regularly in their practices.

I didn’t think I’d be able to break my news habit. On some days I wondered how I had survived before 24-hour cable news came into being. When I had to run errands or have lunch with a friend, I’d listen to MSNBC on the radio and grill Tom when I got home to catch up on anything I might have missed while trying to have a life. I’m exaggerating a little, but unfortunately, not that much.

Weekends were not looked forward to but dreaded. We’re retired so the only difference for us between weekdays and weekends is that we can see our friends who work on the weekends and the cable news shows are mostly repeats. So we don’t get our weekday news fixes. We manage to get through most weekends without any ill effects, though we do long for our regular news anchor friends to return on Monday. Did I mention that I can tell what time it is by which anchor is hosting the MSNBC show of the moment? And I can do this from just the voices – I don’t even have to look at the TV! Again, not something I’m proud of, but there it is.

Then my daughter came to visit from LA for three glorious weeks in December. I didn’t realize that she would be my own personal twelve-step program. I wanted to spend every minute I could with her and she is well informed but not a news junky. So I had to go cold turkey. During the days we hung out, went visiting, shopping, and did projects around the house.

I played lots of gin and double solitaire. In the car, the radio was set to a music channel, not the news. In the evenings, we binge-watched Amazon and Netflix series and watched movies – no news. Not even my favorite, Rachel Maddow. I was having such a good time with Sarah, I didn’t miss the news at all. I noticed that when Tom mentioned some new development and I had no clue what he was talking about, I didn’t care!

“So this is how normal people live,” I thought.

Many of my Facebook friends are also Progressive/Liberal. They religiously keep abreast of what’s happening in the world and we regularly share articles of interest. We also share our outrage about Trump and what he is doing to our country. So I found myself skipping Facebook for days at a time. I got my daily quota of cute animal videos on YouTube.

My news blackout was complete, except for my morning survey of the newspaper headlines. I limited my reading to the headlines and didn’t read any articles.

Sarah and me, December 2019

I wish I could say my three-week detox program had a lasting positive effect on my behavior and my outlook. Or on my habits and my psyche. But it’s too early to tell. I do feel a bit calmer and more positive. Without the daily dose of man’s venality, mendacity, and hypocrisy, my general outlook may have a chance to revert to normal, which is sunnier and less pessimistic.

This is all good.

Sarah has only been gone for a short time and I haven’t watched cable news yet or obsessively read article after article in the papers. My radio in my car is still set to the ‘Broadway’ channel and I’ve decided to get back into baking when I see friends, instead of buying desserts as I have been doing for several years. Baking used to be something I loved, but since I was on Prednisone for over a year and a half and gained ten pounds, I have been on a constant diet and stayed away from cooking and baking as much as possible.

Now though, I wanted the fun of baking again. Of sharing my desserts with friends. I’ve also started working on updating my photo albums – a humongous task involving close to a thousand photos spanning sixteen years.

I see my new interest in these projects and activities as a way to enhance my life apart from the news. It’s good to focus on everyday things that I enjoy doing and bring my daily life back to ‘my’ world and not the national and international world represented by the news. I’m going to work on doing my own thing more and worrying less about our society and the planet plunging into darkness.

I hope my new perspective lasts past the next Trump crisis!



Categories: Ellin Curley, Entertainment, News, Photography, Politics

Tags: , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. I think Sarah is a good influence on you, but that’s because you were a good influence on her. Sounds like you had a wonderful visit.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always have wonderful visits with Sarah. The problem is that when she leaves, I get so down. It’s great to get to spend so much concentrated time together, but my life would be so much different if she lived nearby. She originally wanted to be in TV and movie production so the logical place to move was LA. Now she’s becoming an interior designer, which you can do anywhere, but she has made a life for ten years in LA and wants to stay there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I now limit my news watching every day. I realized it was too stressful and that my being so stressed out all day was affecting my health and my life. Of course, every life has challenges, but turning off the noise of Trump and his administration most of my day has helped me.

    Like

    • I read a few articles in the papers every day and scan the headlines, but I don’t sit and watch any news unless there is a major story that I’m interested in. That policy has helped lower my stress level dramatically!

      Like

  3. I hope so too. It’s good to keep up with the news but it is emotionally draining when it’s all so bad. Over the Christmas New Year period, I had a lot of time on my own and I couldn’t help spending a lot of time monitoring the latest bushfire news online, I couldn’t bear to watch it on the news. It was a relief when my sister came for a few days and I did not watch any news for the whole weekend. I needed the break.

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    • In addition to Trump bad news, the ongoing bush fires in Australia are catastrophic for so much wildlife and so many people! I can’t read most of the horror stories, particularly about the animals. I get too emotional and upset. Donating to rescue efforts is the best thing anyone can do.

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      • I follow the main news stories because I feel that I can’t live under a rock and ignore it all as much as I would sometimes like to do that but I won’t be consumed by it. Our wildlife is going to need all the help it can get for the next few years so I hope that many people will donate.

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  4. I think we are on the middle ground between disinterested and addicted. We watch the news at six, and for a few minutes at 11 unless something special is happening. Then we change the channel. Basically, this is exactly how we have always watched the news. We get madder about what’s happening, but our viewing patterns are the same as ever. So I watch when there’s something unique to watch. Debates because i want to get to know the candidates. If there’s really have a trial in the Senate, I’ll watch it. Otherwise, I’ll skip it because who needs the aggravation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our upcoming visit to you, Ellin, should be interesting. Two retired TV News guys, one self-confessed news junkie and one blogger of all the news (not) fit to print. So much to scream about. We better make sure our BP meds are stocked up. Me? I am looking forward to the oscar-nominated movies. You can keep “The Irish Man” at the bottom of the pile. Forgive me, I am presuming too much maybe? I wonder where the Senate Impeachment “Trial” will be when we gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river. Tell Tommy to stock up on the sniffin’ glue, Ellin. FYI: There’ll be minimal sports talk from me. Between the demise of TB12 and the Pats and the penny pinching Red Sox, my sports blood runs cold. Can you say, “Rustler’s Rhapsody”?

      Like

      • Garry- Looking forward to our long, rambling conversations too. Glad I won’t have to pretend to be interested in sports for too long though. I like getting other people’s perspectives on the news because different people see and read different sources and may have insights that I don’t have.

        Like

    • Marilyn – you seem to have a reasoned, measured, middle of the road approach to news consumption. We went over the edge into the abyss and I’m just pulling myself back. I think Tom enjoys the intellectual stimulation of analyzing all the data and all the proposed solutions or effects of any given situation.

      Like

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