Dear News: I Used to Think That We Were Forever Ever


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Dear News,

Hi. It’s me. Eli. How’ve you been? Yeah, I noticed you. No, I wasn’t trying to avoid you. I was … hey, we can be honest, right? Yeah, I was ducking you. It’s just … it’s just that I’m happy, you know? No, I haven’t gotten a raise, and I haven’t really replaced you.

I mean, I’m doing things, mingling.

That space you once occupied in my life? It doesn’t really exist anymore. I can’t say that I’ve replaced you, one for one. My life is different right now. It doesn’t involve trying to get the most of you, or understanding you, or making a case for or against you.

It’s a tranquility I could have never known if I’d never given you up.

You figured I’d come crawling back. I was so into you. You filled my mornings, from the moment I woke up, until I arrived at work, and beyond. I couldn’t get enough of you. You lured me in with muses like Lauren Frayer, and kept me hooked with political discord.

You are a problem, news, that I’m no longer beholden to try and solve.

Fooled by a business?

This isn’t meant to be malicious, but … the you I once loved? It had so much substance. Or was I fooled by adoration and proximity? I felt you held the key to the universe. The answers. The right questions. The discourse, the ideas, the solutions.

I was so wrong.

The you I see now has little capacity for good things. Jesus Jones, have you looked at yourself in the mirror? Your headlines, for starters. I wanted to go back and give you examples. Incidents in which you were absurd and sensationalist.

Know what, though? I can’t even stomach you that long.

I can’t identify news from sponsored content because the lines are blurred, “fair and balanced,” an imperfect idea, a long-ago concept. It feels to me like a constant stream of vitriol, leaving a void where once I could turn to you for perspective, a starting point.

I could once think through what you offered, but now I don’t even recognize you.

If I scrolled through until I found kindness, humanity, an ounce of mindfulness from any point on the political spectrum, I’d grow weary in the search. The only world I can truly depend on is the one inside the scope of my sight, in close proximity to where I am.

My window to the world, shattered

Maybe your implosion serves a greater purpose.

It really sucks, though, you know that? It wasn’t long ago I could tune to NPR or read a news feed and come away with a sense of understanding of the world we live in. Now, it’s nastiness. It’s a pervasive venom that threatens to seep into my bloodstream.

I won’t let it.

I’ll stand down, write, think, love. I’ll eat fast-food burritos, oblivious to the political leanings of the restaurant’s owner. I won’t name call or defend. I’ll turn up the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and fall in love with the woman in this Twizzler commercial.

You’ve about ruined sports for me, too. Did you know that?

To find game stories for my Avalanche, Broncos, Nuggets, and Rockies teeters on the hopeless. Instead, I’m force-fed updates on player-commentator feuds and prison-life rumors. I get plenty of fighting words and AAU coaches and piss and vinegar of all types.

I don’t know anymore who’s won, but I do know I’m tired of losing.

You’re like a sunburn.

I don’t need your ass. Plain as that. I feel bad for saying this because I’ve found a mindfulness not possible while your petty ass occupied my attention. It’s in breaking the cycle, for seconds, literally, of the blame and shame you insist on injecting us with.

I’m done.

This breakup has galvanized my resolve to see kindness first, not only in the homeless man who needs a meal but in the overworked restaurant staff, impatient friends, the failure to see humanity in those we oppose, necessarily. I won’t sit back and watch.

What can one man do, anyway?

I can encourage those who need it. I can focus not on my president or my ozone or my neighborhood, but on my family, my surroundings, things close I can practice kindness to, not expect to change them to fit my narrow and personal value system.

That’s so much more than I can say for you.

I can’t stop the clicks on you, the reliance by those who form their worlds in the shape of your words. I haven’t replaced you, but I have replaced the anxiety and resentment you’ve planted in me. I’m free. And we’re never, ever getting back together.

Like, ever.

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58 thoughts on “Dear News: I Used to Think That We Were Forever Ever

  1. Brilliant! I wish I’d written this, Eli. Gutter trash news…that’s all we get. On Saturday here in Oz, the majority of the news consisted of the wild media chase of convicted Australian drug courier, Schapelle Corby, from her hideaway to the Indonesian parole board office and then on to the airport to return (well, to be deported) to Australia after serving her thirteen years jail term. You’d think it was a royal visit they were filming. They covered the whole media circus for nearly an hour and a half and as a result, the scheduled kids’ movie, “Despicable Me,” started forty minutes late.
    What about the six-year-old boy who was devastated after learning he was too young to donate blood to the victims of the Manchester bombing. His best friends big sister and mother were caught up in the attack. What a little hero.

    1. What incredible insight into what’s going on a world away, Lyn, and thank you. Breaking news of all sorts has transformed into the yawn, the journalistic equivalent to noise.

  2. Well done, Eli. You’ve said, quite eloquently, what I’ve felt for a long time. New organizations are mostly corporate. Service is no longer their mission. Good for you, and good for all who benefit from your awareness, your kindness and most of all your presence.

    1. Thanks, Carrie. I’m sorry you’ve found the landscape unfulfilling, too. I’m not sure how or when it really turned, but I once was part of this machine – I knew that it wasn’t perfect, but I felt back then that we tried our best to balance what we reported.

      Humbled by your last sentence – I’m just a guy trying to be nice to folk.

      1. I offer you a re-thought of your comment…”I AM a guy being nice to folk.” See the difference? Claiming who we are is a great gift to that which created us…whatever you call him/her/it. ☮️

  3. LOVE this! I gave up the news years ago and get about 5 minute snip it from my morning talk show along with the weather which is perfect.
    The news isn’t news anymore, its trash and depressing. Life is to short to be that unhappy! I can’t imagine those that get a high off of watching it.

    Great post sir!

  4. I’ve never been a cable news TV and Internet news follower. Each morning I read the newspaper (or at least all the headlines, then all of the stories that interest me). At night I turn on our local network news through the weather forecast. Those two sources get me through.

    1. I was a total NPR junkie. Before that, I spent 10 years working in newspapers. I have a total soft spot for meteorologists.

      I wish we had a healthier climate to operate in. All of us.

  5. I read my hometown paper to see who died.. and I catch whatever is important on Facebook (if you call that real news) and I flip through AOL news before I open email just to make sure the world is still there, other than that, I don’t watch the news… it’s depressing! If it is important enough, someone will tell me! LOL! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rhea. I just want to become involved in what I can do something about, near as possible, and not get caught up in the partisan nuances of the world at large.

    1. Thanks, John. I read that link, and one thing stuck out in particular: The call to diversify a newsroom, now.

      I was victim to this trend. I was a sports reporter covering NASCAR and other local sports for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record.

      A bigger paper in a beautiful market, the Citizen-Times in Asheville, N.C., asked if I would join the staff, as a page designer.

      I hadn’t designed pages since college. I later learned that the Citizen-Times editor who offered me a job wanted to find a “person of color.”

      This was great or an opportunity – that I wasn’t ready for. I wasn’t qualified. It put me in over my head in a job, and in a position of resentment from my teammates. This is just one way things began to go wrong in newspapers.

    1. I saw two local TV stations advertising their unbiased approach, and I would totally give them a shot. This world we live in was far less partisan just 10, 15 years ago.

  6. Masterminded this one, you did. The media puts their spin on it to make it “entertaining” even though it’s supposed to be informative, not entertaining. They want to be first so they give us half truths in order to be the one to report it first. I totally agree with you about taking care and practicing kindness to those who are closest to us. We don’t need to change them. We don’t need them to conform to our beliefs. We just need kindness and positivity.

    1. Thanks, Eric. I’ve thought a lot about this today after publishing and I wonder how fair I’ve been to the actual media.

      There definitely exists a culture in some veins to get it first, not right. Or to find the source that supports the reporter’s view.

      Just today, I heard a movie review on NPR (we were skipping through channels) that took a stretch to take a shot at Donald Trump, for no reason apparent.

      The part we can control is our own kindness. You get it. I find myself scrolling through a litany of angry posts on social media until I can find a non-preachy commentary on life.

      I’m looking for that. I’m looking for personal interaction and understanding. I want to encourage and listen.

      1. Exactly. I, too, will scroll past the hate and the vitrol on FB to find the good stuff. Some days it takes a bit longer. If people could only spend more time listening instead of just hearing…

  7. Amen! I hardly pay attention to any news anymore, and I always assume it’s only half the story when I do. It’s ridiculous. How can we stay informed when we’re surrounded by all of this madness.

    1. Thanks, Karen. I will say I think soundbites don’t have enough time for balance. I’ve heard way too many claims made without substantiation, and the danger in that is that whoever hears it can now feel confident they have the whole story – especially if it supports their views.

    1. It’s certainly frustrating, Shann. I hate to paint a broad brush, but it’s soul-sucking to hear what feels like such hatred come from sources we’ve trusted to be fair and balanced.

      I’ve always felt I could write objectively, even about my alma mater or favorite team.

  8. Exactly. Many years ago, when CNN first started and it was nothing but news reports repeated every half hour, i kept it on all of the time and got severely depressed. Turned it off and now i simply scan headlines of the newspaper each morning and listen to a summary of events on the 30 second radio news report. It’s enough.

    1. I loved the 24-hour news cycle. I was nearly obsessed with news updates during the first Gulf War, my first year in college.

      I have a near-future #GirlsRock with a TV journalist. The timing couldn’t be better. She gave a poignant answer to a question about the future of media on the day I posted this.

    1. Thanks, Lecy! I’ve thought so much about this all day … and whether attacking the ‘media’ was the right thing to do.

      However, it’s the pervasive influx of negativity, through headlines at major news sources and those we follow alike, isn’t it?

  9. Got my pom poms out, cheering you on! Back in college, I was introduced to “agenda setting” with regards to mass media, programming, advertising… everything. Really opened my eyes. I rarely watch news. My favorite local radio station does a news segment a few times a day. It’s called The Upside, and is only good news. So thrilled for the amazing changes in you. ❤

    1. Thanks, Susan. I used to see so much more of what we all share in common, but today, it feels like the polar opposites dominate.

      I like the idea of an Upside. I know not all news is great; all I want, good or bad, is objectivity. Is that too much to ask?

    1. A large part of this isn’t that I have given up news, but rather that I’ve given up the anxiety of what’s going on and what’s right or wrong. I am no longer looking for solutions, but I am looking for goodness in life, and better yet, trying my best to become it.

  10. Yeah, I don’t like the news. Everybody’s always chasing the biggest scandal or the bloodiest story. It all just gets overwhelming and hard to keep up with. Can’t the news just give us a well-researched explanation of what’s going on? I’d read that.

    1. … which is sad, Aj, because you read all the things. I agree though when I see things like last night when two local TV stations led with a child drowning in a town on the outskirts of their coverage area.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but it felt like they were sensationalizing the tragedy. And those morning national TV shows that I used to feel were an unbiased news source?

      You can see the glee on the reporter’s faces when they deliver news that slants a certain direction. This is subjective, I realize.

      I am eager to share the interview I have coming up for #GirlsRock that will restore faith, I believe, to a degree.

  11. Nice!
    The news and I took a step back in 2008 to evaluate our relationship but then became little more distant each year. Last summer was the end for me.
    I skim headlines so I have some knowledge of what’s going on in the world, but mostly we’re totally done. Sort of like the ex I see periodically at the gym or in the grocery store. Exchange hellos to be polite but continue on our way without a second thought.

    I just don’t need the negativity. I choose kindness,

  12. My husband won’t watch the news. Then he asks me, “what’s going on in the world?” I really think that’s cheating.

    As for me, I read a lot of news (Dan Rather’s Facebook page and the News app being my two main sources). I like to know why we’re praying for our country so much in church.

    1. The sad thing is, Joey, I used to love to watch the news (only partly because I fell in love with the anchors.) My view now of the world news is through tweets and headlines in my peripheral vision.

      What’s Dan Rather’s Facebook feed like? I’d follow him. We probably ought to pray a little for our country in church anyhow.

      1. Dan Rather doesn’t post a whole lot but when he does it’s this brilliant, eloquent, absolutely perfect little essay that makes me really glad I learned to read.

        Also, there’s his media project “News and Guts” (https://www.newsandgutsmedia.com/) where you can read his essays without having to follow anything.

    1. I tried to listen to NPR this afternoon, Ashley. I got through part of a report, when someone talking began just making assumptions about someone. No fact. No fairness.

      I’d rather hear Miley Cyrus on repeat.

      I’m at odds with this, because I’m finishing an interview with a wonderful journalist right now for #GirlsRock.

  13. The vicious media circle demonstrates that what we focus on gets bigger. I don’t go to NPR as much as I used to, but when I do, I look for the kindness. It’s there, buried under the trash. More and more people are tired of digging through the trash. There’s a niche available for something better.

  14. I don’t really watch or read anymore. Too much nastiness and bias. Honestly, I don’t know how many people are really listening to them anymore. The news media is headed for irrelevance in my opinion, which is sad. The truth tends to lie somewhere in between the extremes they tend to report. I just want the facts. And on another note, the spelling and grammar mistakes in print media really bothers me as well. Does anyone proofread anymore?

    1. I hear you, Michelle. I see TV journalists unable to remain impartial if the interview doesn’t lean toward their political leanings.

      It’s a lot of noise, even on “fair and balanced” NPR. It’s that way in sports, where it’s tough to find headlines that actually deal with Xs and Os, and not hurt feelings and scandal.

      Loved seeing you here! I will be by your place again, soon. I’ve been saving some of the recipes I get in your emails. Every one is just as yummy-looking as the last.

  15. I feel your pain, Eli. I try to listen to multiple news outlets to get the least biased accounts, but I can’t stomach listening for long (and I’ll admit I have more trouble listening to some channels than others). And since when is everything “breaking news?” It’s like the boy who cried wolf – I can’t even pay attention anymore.

    1. Maybe the industry will correct itself. Everyone just wants everyone else to think just like them, it seems. Breaking news has reached ridiculous measures – they just popped the graphic on a water main break recently here.

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