DESPITE POPULAR OPINION, I am not ashamed to say that I once was a journalist.
It started in grade school, when my brother and I would squirrel ourselves away in our bedroom, quaff water from our parents’ mugs and say we were drinking coffee, and bang out stories on a manual typewriter. In sixth grade — and I mean, we’re talking four decades ago, but somehow I still remember it — a gifted teacher rallied her students to produce a class newspaper. I was the managing editor.
In college, I submitted a few columns to the weekly paper as a freshman, came on board as a staffer when I was a sophomore, and wrote and reported like mad for the next three years.
And then, a few years out of college, I landed a job as a municipal reporter at a daily, covering local government and school boards and courts and the cops beat. I grew up in that job — learned to talk to anyone, ask them questions that would compel them to open up, take notes on the fly, write 800 clear, concise words on deadline.
And then join my fellow night-owl reporters at a local dive bar, catch some sleep, and get up and do it again.
All of that is by way of saying that I pay attention to the news. Close attention.
But now … I’m distancing myself.
I know it’s important to stay informed. And my job compels me to have a browser tab open to Twitter while I work, so the deluge of information and opinion, some of it legitimate, much of it complete and utter bullshit, pours on, relentless and merciless.
The former reporter in me wants to take all of it in, every story, every column, every inkspot, every pixel.
The father and husband in me, the employee in me, the retirement-account-holder in me, the goddamn citizen in me … that guy needs some space. He — I — has to ration his news consumption.
I don’t need to know every last detail — though I think I might want to.
What I need is to stay informed to a level that allows me to function — without despair, excessive fear, confusion, or anger. And that requires rationing.
As much as I want to know … all of it. | DL