I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Media Recluse

In High School, this guy Greg used to be able to have intelligent, adult conversations with grownups about free trade agreements, politics and government. I always admired that he could do that, because when the Washington Post came to my house, I made a beeline for the "Food," "Metro," "Style," and "Travel" sections. I couldn't be bothered deciphering what GOP meant and becoming familiar with who the Minority Whip was, when doing so would delay my access to more pressing stories like, "COOKING WITH COFFEE," "Martha Puce- 86 - Church Volunteer and Beloved Great Grandmother," or "High School Theater Department Headed to Edinburgh Festival."

Greg had things to say; at least he sounded like he did. He knew about important issues. He knew what "NAFTA" stood for, and what it was, and how it would impact something about Mexico. He could name senators. He was conversant about...Hey! A butterfly...!

I knew about the importance of clarifying butter to make an omlette and that Miami Beach was becoming a hot spot. I could also stand at the top of the "Senior Stairwell" and find something to make fun of in just about any person that walked by, with my cohort, Molly. We called it "Fauxp-Scoping." We. Were. SO. Cool.

When I woke up on September 11, 2001 to a Madison, Wisconsin radio D.J. berating a caller for not knowing about the events unfolding in New York, my news apathy vanished. Current events, global politics and economies zoomed into focus on my radar of things important. Since 2001, like a smack junkie, if I don't check the Washington Post Online at least twice a day, I get the shakes and the sweats.

I have become conversant with modern topics. I could have an adult conversation with Greg, the likes of which I could not have had in 12th grade. I have opinions on things and I know what's going on, say in the Plamegate Scandal. I know which senators I like, and which I find to be evil heartless special interest group whores.

As I became more erudite and well-versed with the news, current events, and the global powerplayers, I grew to disdain people who read fluff like "PEOPLE!" and "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY!" and other magazines with implied exclamation marks in their titles. I turned up my nose at people who shunned current events for Ashton and Demi news and exuberantly gushed about first Survivor, and then the onslaught of reality television.

I thought these people were willfully ignorant and stupid. I thought their lives couldn't be worth much and I pitied their inability to appreciate the depth and complexity of how international and domestic relations impacted their lives. Important things were happening in the world, and all they cared about was the new 50 Cent video or watching The Batchelor.

Today I realized -- I yearn to be one of them.

I don't yearn to be familar with Pop Culture; my age demographic means that I'm still relatively in touch with what's going on, although I'll admit I'm starting to lose my grip on the latest trends. That Justin Timberland and Candice Diaz sure make a nice lookin' couple... Maybe if they get married, Puffy Daddy will sing at their wedding, as well as the other boys from 'Nsink.

I don't yearn to be willfully stupid and ignorant. I do yearn to be free of the constant feeling that the world is hurtling towards hell in a handbasket, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

I no longer believe that one person can make the world a better place, or even a difference. I do, however, believe that a group of two or three can make the world a worse place.

I don't want to know that congress is going to allow drilling for oil in Alaska, and I don't want to know that everyone in Africa is dying of AIDS. I don't want to know that Tom Delay motioned for and got a new judge, and I don't want to know that Samuel Alito will probably be confirmed to the Supreme Court (although good luck to all Fillibusterers.)

I can do nothing to stop these travesties, and knowing about them eats away at my stomach, and at my soul.

I'll bet the people that get all their news from the New York Post or Gawker.Com don't lie awake worring about possible deregulation of Machine Gun sales. I'll bet no one that gets their news exclusively from Suchin Pak on MTV thinks about the fact that they won't receive Social Security benefits, even though they're being taxed for it. And I'll bet people that don't read ANYTHING aren't outraged by America's fatally-stubborn refusal to further stem-cell technology.

I don't want to listen to National Public Radio in the morning, anymore.

The more I know, the more I start to realize that just maybe I'm the stupid one. Maybe I'm the one who's the moron for learning about, and getting twisted about issues that are so far out of my control, getting angry about them is akin to getting angry about the Earth revolving around the Sun (you know, while Heliocentrism is still being taught in Public Schools...)

Maybe everyone else knows something I don't - maybe living the addage "ignorance is bliss" isn't necessarily a bad thing. I never talk about current events anyway. Is addiction to magazines like People and Style a self-preservative defense mechanism instead of a plebian waste of money?

What good is it doing me to know what's going on in Washington, when not only can I do nothing about it (indeed my vote seems almost worthless nowadays, so...hell. Why not just stop voting altogether?) but it weighs heavy on my heart and on my mind? I don't need this aggravation. I don't need this frustration. I don't need this anxiety.

Little by little as I get my news from Deco Drive (Miami's equivalent to Entertainment Tonight) the fear and worry that I feel will melt away into the morphine bliss of one of J-Lo's dreamy outfits, or the numb, i-just-ate-an-entire-chocolate-cake-by-myself-lethartic-joy of discovering Vaugniffer. I won't be jittery, I won't be disappointed, and my moods will be dictated by the seratonin rush of a new season of Desperate Housewives, tempered by the somber ache caused by the loss of Six Feet Under.

I just hope that after I implement my new decision, I don't run into Greg. We'll have nothing to talk about.