2016 has been an absolute dumpster fire for the world, and in particular for the American political process. Sure, I knew going into 2015 that we’d have to put up with the usual election rigamarole kicking into gear a year and a half before we even voted (what I wouldn’t give for a system that prevents candidates from announcing until January of 2016, and all the primaries being held in a few short weeks instead of over four long, weary months). But nothing could prepare us for the “Hillary is a witch who should be burned at the stake; Trump is a horrible nazi overlord fascist wannabe” show that we’ve been buried in. I obviously have my own leanings (liberal, ding, ding, ding) and believe that Hillary is less of a witch than Donald is a fascist, but still… it’s all become way too much for me to take, it infests every aspect of our lives in a daily basis.
Then there’s all the violence. Mass shootings, bombings, trucks driving through crowds… just insanity. I don’t even know where to begin with all that. Crime is down here in the US for the most part, but things just feel tougher all over.
So I’m torn. Torn between wanting to read articles, keep up to date on the news, be engaged… versus turning it all off, tuning out, and doing my thing. Because let’s face it, the one thing I know is that the news is USELESS for providing us with information these days. Gone are the days when you could trust the news to give you… news. Now it’s all opinion, commentary, slants. The opposition gets their time as well, even if their comments are so whack job insane that they aren’t credible, but the news loves promoting controversy and discourse, because polarizing the people draws them back. Everyone loves a good fight.
There’s this awful dichotomy in America today. On the one hand, we scream about how the news is biased. Some news is, for sure. Most news, however, just wants to sell us something, entertain us for our advertising dollars, and the best way to do that is to promote conflict. But, let’s just go with “biased news” for the sake of simplicity. In the very next breath, the same folks who claim biased news coverage will hold up a news article as “proof” of some position they hold. “See! I TOLD you she was a witch! Burn her!”
We fall further and further into these bubbles we create, these self-centered echo chambers where what we believe to be “truth” is reinforced. I’ve taken to blocking every single posting site/page on Facebook, even if it supports my beliefs. I no longer want to engage in the self-created ocean of my truths and would rather work my way through them on my own. And that leaves me with a clearer understanding of why people do that. It’s so much easier to be fed information that allows you to continue with your preconceived notions rather than having to think things through yourself. It gives you a “credible source” you can rely on for what you should think, because face it… thinking is hard.
I started to take a shine to Twitter recently, but that’s rapidly filling up with the same blather. And most of the folks I follow I like, so I don’t want to block their feeds, but I’m stuck in the same cycle of being fed information that I don’t need or want or desire. But then, I did get a response from Neil Gaiman when I suggested he stop by Big Gay Icecream while in New York, which was wonderful (my wife was falling asleep and I woke her up to tell her). So for now Twitter stays, but you’re on notice, oh birdie one.
Ten more days until vacation. Ten days to muddle through. I really can’t wait until my break, and to get away from it all. Especially the four days we’ll spend hiking in the Rockies, without connectivity of any kind. Hopefully I’ll get some good amount of writing done (by hand of course).