(Note: this piece originally appeared on my (TW) Tumblr as part of my Informalities series, on 08 June 2016).
Refresh, scroll; refresh, scroll: such is the morning. Happy Wednesday.
As the endless 2016 campaign(pain) wears on, I return again and again to Alain De Botton’s THE NEWS: A USER’S MANUAL, and this passage in particular: “It is when we are incubating particularly awkward but potentially vital ideas that we tend to feel most desperate to avoid looking inside. And that is when the news grabs us.”
And, oh, do I let it grab me.
It bothers me that I allow a hateful, spiteful, thin-skinned, misogynistic, manipulative, con-man-huckster xenophobe reality television relic of the Patrick Bateman eighties invade my thoughts; that I have this addict’s need to mainline information in black-mirror syringes, filling spaces of silence, perpetuating the distrust of my own capacity for coherent thought, with the bleary-eyed, brain-off, consumption of off-the-cuff think pieces birthed from a relentless clusterfuck of data-spinning and mining and churning and re-clicking and refreshing, bobbing up and down with arm floaties in a tepid cesspool of depleting ad dollars and the shallow promise of perpetual connectivity, Alfredo sauce of clickbait verbiage, opinion, and best guesses hurled against a wall covered in so much sauce that none of the new ingredients stick; that I fall for the mindless, endless prognostication and finger pointing and the noxious fumes emanating from the cloud of what passes for thought at the expense of my own.
While I don’t want to abstain from news consumption completely, I am challenging myself to consume that news in a more mindful way, not as a space-filler between bouts of word-slinging–or, worse yet, as a means to avoid exploring those deep recesses of what passes for my brain when they are most needed.
What, exactly, constitutes that more mindful way is the subject of continuing inquiry; 2016 marches on.