My News Addiction
By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
Okay. It’s confession time. I need to explain why my housework is more Oscar than Felix, my fridge contains six-day-old rotisserie chicken carcasses, and supper may be breakfast food again. I need to admit the reason I haven’t published a book isn’t lack of fodder or writer’s block. It’s my news addiction. Morning, noon, evening and bedtime news is available, just like medication timelines might say to take one pill at mealtimes and bedtime. That’s how often I need my news fix. Like a nosy person afraid to miss a thing, most times I am rewarded with interesting news on TV, online, or on my smartphone. Sometimes it’s the same old thing but more often, it’s breaking news. Between the craziness of the presidential campaign, terror threats, unsettled weather, and local updates, there’s never a dull moment.
When I hear folks say they don’t know about the latest terror attack or a sudden gas shortage, I can feel my eyes widen in disbelief. Although I can understand not wanting to hear all the bad things happening in the world, there are certain things we should all be aware of. Such as, an impending severe storm warning, so you can prepare your yard for high winds; the gas shortage caused by a ruptured pipeline in the southeastern US. These seem like important things for people to know about before their furniture blows into their window or they’re stranded beside the road with no gas.
As a teenager, my dad always wanted me to watch the news with him. I politely declined. He also enjoyed reading the newspaper to our family, trying to keep us all aware of important events. We were less than attentive, I’m sure. The only news I remember watching with him involved famous people dying, marrying, or being memorialized. I wonder if my current fascination with world affairs came from him or if age and wisdom has anything to do with it. A curiosity that I certainly didn’t have as a high school student is almost a passion in middle age. Perhaps it has to do with my interest in non-fiction stories, whether my own or someone else’s. I love life stories. The world and all its stories is my current school, my continuing education.
My addiction to news likely started with 9/11 where I trusted Peter Jennings to keep us informed of all that happened and possibilities of what might happen next. Whether fear, disbelief, or anger fueled my “need to know” I have no clue. However, with the convenience of VCR recordings at that time, and now keeping my DVR set to record Good Morning America and the Nightly News, I’m rarely out of the loop. And if that’s not enough information, there’s always CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and don’t forget social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.
It seems to me that it’s much harder to be out of the loop than in it. It takes purposeful unplugging, a power outage, or a vacation away from it all to be in the dark about current affairs. Everywhere in daily life there are banks, restaurants, and many other work places with TVs playing news channels, perhaps even with a scroll on the bottom if the sound is turned down. It seems like too much work to avoid the news. I’d better close now. The six o’clock news is about to start.