These days it’s more important than ever to stay informed. Everyone says so. We must be intelligent consumers of the news, able to discern fact from fiction in a world that aims to deceive. That’s right. News is something we consume. Not sure what happens to it down the line.
Say you find something interesting, something serious, something from a famously thoughtful journal, and you click on it. You settle back. It’s a comprehensive review of judicial and recent stippled history as it pertains to the current ascendancy of the alt-elf estate, with bonus analysis by highly ornamental exports in the field of cross-germinated flagitation. You concentrate on the first few paragraphs, consuming away in a righteous state, brow furrowed, and when it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to wrap up, you start to wonder how long is this, and you glance over at the scroll bar, just to see exactly what sort of commitment is being asked of you, and that little dingus is way up there on the page, and then you go back in for another paragraph or so, soldiering away, but it’s troubling, and then you give that scroll bar a big spin like Wheel of Fortune, and holy moly but it’s a long one, and so you bookmark the page and file it away in your online hidey-hole of worthy things you mean to read sometime, which is nearly as virtuous as reading it, and have to recuperate with a video of kittens falling off things.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Because these days it’s more important than ever to monitor your information diet so as not to damage delicate emotional tissues. It’s not that you don’t want to stay informed but sometimes a glancing blow of news is good enough. Get the gist, enough to fill in the right bubbles on the ballot, and move on with your life. Fortunately there are ways to gauge your level of involvement before it’s too late.
For instance, listen to the language in the first few moments of a radio broadcast. They’ll tell you what you’re in for right up front. It’s a good sign if the host of a show is going to have a conversation around something. Or if he is interviewing someone and asks for help to get his head around an issue. Or even wrap it around. You can anticipate a pretty easy data dump here–a moderate but not insurmountable degree of information is headed your way. If you’re lucky, they’ll even do some spitballing, or they’ll offer to circle back.
But use caution if someone is planning to unpack a story. That can get grisly in a hurry. Before you know it, they’ll threaten to drill down or, worse, do a deep dive. You might want to back off and change the dial until you find someone willing to give you the takeaway.
The takeaway is really where it’s at, but keep your instincts sharp; if the conclusion is anything other than “The future still remains to be seen,” or “No one expects that to change anytime soon,” you might be getting into some suspect content there.
In troubled times, you’re probably safest just getting your news from snappy memes on social media. These are designed to be short, sassy, and to the point. Your friend might post it with the single comment “This.” Or, look for something that ends in “Think about it. Take all the time you need.” This will generally be a slam-dunk absurdity and, usually, a shout-out to the choir, which should puff out your righteousness sails for minutes at a time.
For even more pointed commentary, look for the words “Let that sink in.”
There! That didn’t take long! Now you know which bubbles to fill in, you’ve limited your exposure to abrasive reality, and you’re back in kitten territory.
Sometimes thinking is highly overrated which is why there are kittens. I have consumed so much news that I have actually gained weight from the added calories. I should've had ice cream instead.
I'm guilty of NOT wanting to do a "deep dive." On anything. Anymore. I'm all too aware that there is far more road in my rear-view mirror than there is ahead of me. I just do not have the fucking time to get depressed over things I ultimately cannot change. There is booze to be drunk, good food to eat, books to read, and naps to take. I am unapologetically trying to at least make myself happy, since it is far too late to do anything to change the trajectory we're on.
As a side-note, I absolutely detest that we're all now referred to as "consumers." It reminds me of a cancer. ….Come to think of it, I guess it's an apt description…. So… never mind….
Jono, ice cream is the correct answer to more questions than most people realize. Mimimanderly, I strive for the same things. I wonder if the beginning and end of the arc of life resemble each other more than the middle.
Mimimanderly, I also hate being a "consumer." Makes it sound like we are all here to be nothing more than parasites . I have also come to realize in the last few years that I can only make myself happy. More wine!
I'm waaay ahead of you there, Jono!
I dunno. You both make me happy.
I do read the New Yorker online and I think that is a deep enough dive for me each week!!
I used to subscribe to the New Yorker but when I was able to measure my guilt in inches in the pile of unread magazines I quit.
I take great pride in knowing I'm only three months behind on my New Yorkers. So much good reading!
I think The New Yorker should become a monthly! Then I'd subscribe again and actually have a slight chance of keeping up.
Yup. As it is I barely keep up with The Sun, which is a skinny monthly.
Wow. I think you captured and corralled every inane and oft-repeated media expression being used these days!
I do amateur-bono editing work on a friend's manuscript. If she had handed me a page with an 11-line-long sentence, inserted periods (semicolons, at the very least!) would have peppered the page. But YOU–not once did my attention flag or my head hurt from wondering when the point was going to appear. Love it!
I think it has been pointed out before that I don't follow all the rulz…
Now I'll be scanning my "word of the day" updates more closely, to see how soon they pick up things like "cross-germinated flagitation"
I may need a hockey mask to play scrabble.
Did somebody mention Scrabble? (Yes, I'm a senior…)
Scrabble is approximately the same age as I am. Of course, I assumed it had been around forever.
I've been around forever. I'm now 80…and I purely love your blog.
Such brilliant wordsmithing! And your message is quite refreshing: I was beginning to wonder if there wasn't something wrong with me. (sigh) Sometimes I long for the days when Walter Cronkite would just tell us the facts, sitting there facing the camera with a sheaf of papers in his hands…
We were a Huntley-Brinkley family, but I'm with ya.
Baked in. I’m someone who. As well. Less voters. Face plant.
Hey, I don't think I've heard "baked in!" NOW I will!
The imported commentators on NPR like that one. In fact, they go so far as to say “baked into the cake” to describe something integral. They didn’t choose “creamed into the taters” or “pureed into the sauce” or…
"pureed into the sauce": I think mimimanderly chose that one. Raising a supportive glass, saluting a wise decision….
I first came to detest "baked in" when someone I know on facebook blandly suggested that the harassment of Christine Blasey Ford was "baked in"–meaning she should have expected and accepted it–and what Ford really wanted was a book deal anyway. Thus "baked in" is forever tainted.
Well shit. I am now double damn-guar-on-teed to hear this tomorrow.
I've never heard or read "baked in", however I do try to skip over the really depressing news, so there is that. Cbott, I can't take credit for "pureed into the sauce." If I were responsible for the metaphor, it would more likely be "shaken into the cocktail." Because I need one after reading/listening to most news these days.
Wasn't giving you THAT credit, and I like your substitute even better! No, I was thinking sauce/sauced (drunk), but having no idea where you live, that colloquialism may have been lost in translation. Ah well, it made ME smile while I slowly pureed my own self into the sauce.
I can not listen to the news. I can read it, for great long stretches, but talkers seem to take so freaking long to say anything of substance. I think it's because they aren't edited.
I do admire your ability to pick up on, and mercilessly torment, the phrases au jour 🙂
Sometimes I hear a phrase that seems new and evocative enough, but then I hear the same thing the next day, and then I'm on to it. Ah hah, I say. Get used to this one.
Same reason I don't listen to podcasts. If they don't have a downloadable transcript, I usually pass them over. I can read faster than they can talk, and they usually beat a subject to death instead of making their point and then going on to something else.
My involvement in newsy type articles is minimal, even less for political stuff. I'll read the headlines, maybe even the first sentence, then if that doesn't grab my attention, I move on. These days there's just far too much data out there. There's really no need to be taking it all in. When would we sleep?
I have now evolved the attention span of a moth.
And they're all using weaponized fake news to move the goal posts to a baked in conclusion… Gaaak!
I think now I'll amuse myself noticing mixed metaphors.
Okeh, I'll let that sink in. Still, we are inundated with a plethora of useless information.
Today's my birthday. So far, a fat squirrel (bird seed pillager, no doubt) climbed into the window-box and made faces at me for quite a while, including sticking out his tongue and licking the glass. SAME TO YOU, RODENT FACE! This distracted me from the NYT article I was sort of reading.
I would take a squirrel licking the window as a birthday present. Happy birthday!
Girl, you definitely have your finger on the jargon-riddled pulse of today's media!! AND, "puff out your righteousness sails.." That's a keeper! If I can't figure out a way to work that into conversation soon, I am not worthy of this blog! Keep 'em coming!
Will do! Will do something.