For the past 7 days, my life was consumed by the flu. Technically, I was more couch-ridden than bedridden, but I was decidedly horizontal. Luckily, I had a faithful guardian who didn’t leave my side, so I survived.
This is the first time I’ve had the flu in as long as I can remember. I don’t get sick often. The last time I was even “take a day off work” sick was over a year ago (and I don’t even have to get a doctor’s note to call in — I have lenient bosses).
Yesterday, as I was catching up on the SNL I missed, I realized I didn’t get most of the jokes because I hadn’t been keeping up with politics or the news (or even trying).
Today, something else hit me, as I started to dive back into work and catch up with life, that I can attribute entirely to the flu:
I don’t need to follow daily politics any more.
I remember learning in Civics class in high school the importance of following current events.
I don’t disagree with the ethos as it was taught then, in that political and informational climate. And I applaud my teacher for trying (even if failing) to get us to give a shit.
But in 2019, with every 24-hour News Corp pumping out half a dozen Breaking News-es every day, while every person in your social network feels obligated to weigh in with their totally-uninformed and inconsequential hot take, then we forget it all and start over tomorrow, I’m pretty sure following daily politics is hurting more than it’s helping.
I missed a week of politics, and I’m as close to certain as I can be that literally nothing I missed will matter in another 7 days. It takes longer than that to develop a story of significance, something that has gravity, or the ability to change the future.
Now that we’re in the Presidential Election Season® again (As if we ever left. We didn’t. I refuse to believe that we did.), I’m going to feel an increased pressure to follow daily politics. Maybe you will too.
And this is where I’ll double down:
I need to not follow daily politics any more.
It’s distracting, despite feeling important. It’s unhelpful, despite feeling helpful and necessary. It’s exhausting. It’s gossip. It’s poison.
Following daily politics is as helpful to someone wanting to be a good citizen as watching The Bachelor.
And that’s not a slight against The Bachelor, or its fanbase: at least they’re honest about what they’re doing, and not pretending they’re producing something important.
So I’m out.
I’ll catch up with the big stories at the end of each week, after they’ve developed, and let all the little clickbait, rage du jour, gossip stuff fall through the cracks.
Now, I’ll just need to find a way to limit my news to the weekly dose. And to have it be important stories.
If only there was a business that delivered news to people once a week — Maybe Sundays? Just tryin’ things. Hear me out. — and you paid them a little bit each week to edit out all the nonsense and factual inaccuracies — We could call them “Editors.” Dang! I think that sounds great. That’s a business the 21st century needs.