That’s what I’ve been doing. For years. I didn’t realize it until reading this post by David Cain. The post is eerily close to the view of my friend Henry. A little more spiritual, perhaps, but they’ve wound up at the same place.
“A few years ago I quit watching the news, because I realized I only did it to get high. It felt good to feel outrage sometimes. It felt good to take up and defend certain mental positions about social issues, to hate people who did bad things. It also felt comforting to have some socially-acceptable TV to watch after dinner.
I did it because I was attracted to it, not because it actually gave me any advantages or improved my quality of life. When I think of all those hours spent watching the news, it’s hard to figure out quite what I gained in exchange. Those volumes of information about O.J. Simpson, Sarah Palin or any other Outrage of the Month haven’t done me a lick of good since the moment I absorbed it.
Because it was gratifying, I never had any incentive to examine what it was doing for me or what it cost me. In any case, I would tell myself I was “staying informed” like any responsible citizen, as the typical argument goes, but it was really a fairly useless indulgence that just made some part of me feel good at the time.”
So many of the things I do every day are mindless. I do them without being aware of doing them, certainly unaware of why I am doing them.
I’m going to try to skip the evening news to which I have so long been addicted. That’s a half-hour a day. An extra week each year? Wish me luck.