A News Addict Comes Clean

By Jim Hagarty

There are things in all of our lives that we can’t handle, or at the least, we can’t handle them very well.

For some, it is money. “A fool has more money than brains, but not for long,” goes the expression. Plus, “A fool and his money will soon be parted.”

For some it is anger. Their minds explode at the smallest annoyance. And once riled up, they quickly move to Stage Two which is Completely Out of Control. Their over-the-top reactions lead to all sorts of tragedies from domestic violence and divorce to the murders of strangers, their loved ones, and themselves. They are rageaholics.

Others can’t handle relationships. Their innate super selfishness and inability to feel and show love and compassion puts them outside the relationship circle. They need to live their lives alone.

And then there are mind-altering substances. These things get a lot of attention, especially drugs. So many die because they simply can’t handle the effects and they can’t quit.

Earlier in my own life, alcohol took control of me and caused a lot of havoc. I am allergic to the substance. I haven’t ingested any of it in 41 years and have had a pretty good life as a result.

Then there are the milder things that people can’t handle such as video games, sweets, TV watching, even sleeping. Too much sleep can turn a person into a zombie.

Now it is humbling for me to realize today (though I have known for some time), that I can’t handle “news”, at least the big news that dominates the headlines. This is ironic because the house that keeps me warm and dry today and the food that fills my fridge, has been paid for by the work I did over decades in the news business.

It occurs to me today that I have wasted almost a year and a half of my life absorbed by the ins and outs of national elections in North America, first in 2015 in Canada, and now this year in the United States. I am hooked on all the latest tidbits of information that come up on my computer screen. I recheck news websites I checked a half an hour ago to see if there is any more news about Trump. There always is.

Normally, that might not pose too much of a problem. After all, we are all entitled to our hobbies. However, what is disturbing is the effect following all the ins and outs of the news has on me.

If my hobby was woodworking, and after a day in the shop I was left feeling helpless, hopeless and profoundly depressed, I might start thinking about giving up the saw and the sandpaper.

The news is having that effect on me, and like the bartender who becomes an alcoholic, I have become a newsaholic. It is so damn depressing watching the Republicans in the U.S. rubbing their hands together in glee as they set about undoing not just Barack Obama’s legacy, but 50 years of progress on a host of issues from health care, to social justice to the environment and more. I read a little thing the other day which said, I believe rightly, that Donald Trump is turning the old adage “If you can’t do any good, at least do no harm” on its head with his cabinet picks. The writer of these few lines said Trump and his advisers, through the personnel choices they are making, are obviously intent on doing maximum harm.

That is a very hard thing to imagine and even harder to accept.

The telltale sign of an addiction is that things from your “normal” life fall by the wayside as you dedicate more and more time to following your obsession. This has been happening to me. A year ago, I was outside every day, clearing clutter, preparing the yards and plants for winter. This year, it is an effort to leave the house.

Letters have not been replied to. Cards have not been sent. Emails gone unanswered. Friends left uncalled. I would meet with friends now and then for coffee. It has been months since I did that.

So, it’s December the first and maybe a good time to start to get myself free from the news. Just like with alcohol, I am sure the majority of people out there can read all about the horrors of outrageous happenings in our world and not have their temperament affected. Maybe they get mad for a moment or two or a bit depressed, but they walk away from it and carry on.

I can’t do the same.

But today I am going to try. I am going to go back through my blog and delete all my political scribblings. I am going to return to writing about the little things in the life I see around me and leave the big things to those who can take a swig or two without downing the whole bottle and going back for more.

So goodbye Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Carry on bravely and please, for me, just do this one little favour:

Please don’t blow up the world.

I have grown kind of fond of it.

Author: Jim Hagarty

I am a 65-year-old retired journalist, busy recovering from a lifelong career as an unretired journalist. This year marks a half century of my scratching out little fables about life. My interests include genealogy, humour and music. I live in a little blue shack in Canada and spend most of my time trying to stay out of trouble. I am not that good at it. I also spent years teaching journalism. Poor state of journalism today: My fault. I have a family I don't deserve, a dog that adores me, and two cars the junk yard refuses to accept. My prized possessions include my old guitar and a razor my Dad gave me when I was 14 and which I still use when I bother to shave. Oh, and my great-great-grandfather's blackthorn stick he brought from Ireland in the 1850s. I have only one opinion but it is a good one: People take too many showers.

3 thoughts on “A News Addict Comes Clean”

  1. I have done the same thing, Jim, during the election I seemed to always be listening to the news to the point of addiction. The result of that election absolutely stunned me about how so many people could be so mislead and I decided then that no one needed me to know how many missquided decisions were going to be made

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