I should be embarrassed. Ashamed, really. But the fact of the matter is — though I have a master’s degree in journalism from a Big Ten university–I don’t watch or read the news. Any of it. I don’t even know what countries we’re at war with.
I wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I, too, was a “responsible, informed citizen” who sacrificed 10+ hours a week to the media, dirtying my fingers with newsprint and its dark stories, tuning in to broadcasters and their stream of schizophrenic bites. But that was back before I full-heartedly dedicated my life to the pursuit of ignorance.
The truth is, I didn’t like the person I became when I watched the news. Because the only way I could deal with the daily assault of suffering, war, starvation, hate, neglect, cruelty, murder, abuse. The only way I could protect myself from the rapid fire ugliness, was to harden myself, to nurture an emotional callus until the images and words could no longer rip me apart.
I had to stop feeling another’s pain. I had to stop seeing the fear, the hunger, in another’s eye. I had to dehumanize myself and others in order to become aware of the human condition. And so I said, “No more news”, because the price became one I was no longer willing to pay just to be “in the know”.
Now I listen to NPR and catch shows like This American Life and The MOTH. When I tune in, voices channel stories that change my life in ways that no news story ever could. Because no “live” news story has ever let me, made me, feel alive. Sometimes I tear at the quiver in a voice, the pain behind it. Other times my throat swells from the beauty and generosity of a single act. But always, when the story ends, I have been touched, enlightened and entertained. And with it comes a greater understanding of another person and their world, which in turn helps me understand myself a bit better too. That’s the news that matters to me; that my world’s news.