Bleak hauser.

I have never been particularly ill-informed.

Even in high school, I think I followed the news (and struggled to make sense of it) more closely than the average bear — I remember writing in my journal about the Sandinistas, and the re-election of Ronald Reagan. During my only year at an American college (St. Olaf – um ya ya!), I was instrumental in the organization of fundraiser for Project Hunger, and I travelled to D.C. to protest this country’s involvement in Central America. Lord knows that while living in Israel I was up on current events — and I challenge you to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago and fall behind on the news. After graduate school, what did I do? Write and edit for a woman who dealt heavily in issues of social justice, and then began to write my own newspaper commentary. Honestly, I’ve been keeping track!

And yet.

About a year and a half ago I began to develop a habit of reading certain politics-heavy websites and blogs on a regular, and then daily, basis, particularly in the lead-up to and successful conclusion of the ’08 elections.

I’m online, quite legitimately, all day anyway — such connectivity is, in this the 21st century, a fairly basic requirement if one is a writer dealing with current events and contemporary history and (more than the writer likes to admit) new topics about which one may initially know little — and, you know: There’s all this cool stuff on the web! You know what they say: Good writing is 3% talent and 97% ignoring the internet. C’est vrai, baby!

But the habit of searching out and reading the news, and/or reactions to the news, in one form or another, has grown deeper, particularly as I began blogging myself, and as a result, I think that I now know much more, in much greater detail, about what goes into making the sausage that we call Democracy, as well as the one we call Modern American Society, than I ever did before.

And it ain’t pretty.

And, I’m not sure that, in this case, more knowledge is a good thing. Indeed, I think that knowing more has made me more pessimistic, less cheery, more prone to melancholy.

Which, you know, don’t misunderstand: This is a matter of degree. I have always been prone to a certain pessimism, lack of cheeriness, and melancholy (of course, with my grin and friendly demeanour, this is not how I typically present, so it often comes as something of a surprise to new friends. Whee, who doesn’t like a surprise!) — but frankly, I don’t need the help.

I don’t think the answer is, as I was once counseled, to turn off the news. To ignore reality. Reality, not infrequently, sucks, and it is our job to deal with that suckage and work to set it right. My not-knowing won’t make anything better, and might, in a tiny, infinitesimal way, make things worse.

But this weekend, when I was away with friends, I didn’t know a god damn thing. We went for long walks under cerulean skies, watched lady bugs take flight off our jeans, and skipped (or sunk) stones in the waves of Lake Michigan. We ate gorgeous food, drank too much, and talked of nothing and a very great deal.

And it struck me, as I came back to my habit of toggling between Talking Points Memo and the New York Times, Balloon Juice and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Wonkette and Gawker, that re-filling my head with sorrow and worry was a rather head-desking way to re-enter reality. And that perhaps my personal reality is more shaped by those sites and their analogs than might, strictly speaking, be healthy.

That maybe a new balance might be in order: more LOLcats, and less TPMCafe, perhaps.

Perhaps.

I’m not sayin’. I’m just, you know… sayin’.

8 Comments

  1. Kivrin

     /  November 24, 2009

    Add Cute Overload to your daily round of websites. Also The Daily Puppy.

  2. Kivrin

     /  November 24, 2009

    Oops, messed up the HTML on that last one: Daily Puppy

  3. Not a day goes by, that a piece of news, or something I read on some web site, saddens me, sickens me, angers me, or just makes me shake my head at humanity’s utter stupidity. I would blog every day about human greed, ignorance, folly, strife, etc., if I thought it would do any good, but I don’t, because I prefer to take all this information, distill it down, and try to make some sense of it, while at the same time maintaining a bit of hope and optimism.

    It ain’t easy.

    Every so often, you have to turn it off. While the care and concern you may show for any, or all, of the six billion others on this world is admirable, and while your attempts to get others to recognize the changes we need to make the world livable are also admirable, there has to come a point where selfishness takes over. We sometimes have to put aside the mantel of reason, logic, and passion for humanity, and simply be ourselves, lest we forget what we are really striving for. It is too easy to become disconnected from the very humanity and world we are attempting to save, when we put our heads down and plow ahead, into the fray.

  4. Paul in KY

     /  November 24, 2009

    Sometimes I can’t read Greenwald, because of how mad he makes me about whatever fucked up situation he is blogging about.

    Lots of depressing stuff out there.

  5. The “news” focuses, laser-like, on the bad things that are happening in the world.
    Watch it closely enough, or without something to balance it, and you begin to think that is all there is in the world.

    AOL started something called “The Good News” which reported only the good things happening in the world; the things ordinarily not covered by the traditional news outlets. It looks like they have renamed it the Philanthropy Project, but it might help your brain to be exposed to both sides of the world!

    http://news.aol.com/philanthropy

  6. I alternate my site reading: CrackskullBob (really is crackers—and sweet), LOLCats, Feministing, a friend’s blog, Aussie feminist blog, Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Con, another friend’s blog. . . etc. (And yes, Ms. H, your blog is in the mix, as well.)

    Helps.

    I end my day’s (or, more accurately, night’s) internet consumption with MyParentsWereAwesome, which I find sweet and sad and a lovely way to end the day.

  7. Lise

     /  November 24, 2009

    I appreciate the links to xkcd and LOLcats on your blog site. Sometimes when I just can’t take whatever you’re writing about any more, I skip over and look at stick figures and kitties. As we all know, your SAT scores were higher than mine. Or maybe it’s just a vitamin D deficiency. Glad you had such a great weekend with your pals!

  8. Feh. I voted for McGovern in ’72. He lost. A couple years later the rest of the country found out Nixon was a crook. Luckily Congress had the goods on him and SANE Republicans joined Democrats to force his resignation. And we were involved in a land war in Asia that had already cost 50,000+ American dead and hundreds of thousands of dead Vietnamese. So nothing new in the world. I’m still an optimist, but I’m a cynic, also.Too. IOW I’ve got a pretty thick skins and plan to enjoy life as long as good beer is made.

    I recently read a comment somewhere on the internets, and will use it a bit out of context: I am multitudes motherfucker!

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