Plan for new year? Less of a news year

by | Jan 10, 2016 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I’m planning to lose weight. It’s my New Year’s resolution. It’s not the carbs. Not the fats. My goal for 2016 is to consume less … news.

This may sound funny coming from a newspaper person, but then, even doctors can smoke too much, right? I’m not planning to go cold turkey. Just hoping to shed a few pounds of misery by cutting my media calories.

You know how some people swear off junk food every January? I’m swearing off of a 24-hour news habit, and a breaking developments addiction.

After all, we must consider our health. I was wondering why, at the end of last year, I felt so heavy and sluggish. I realize now I’d developed terrible eating habits. I’d chew on a few minutes of angry Donald Trump updates every day on CNN, then munch on some Hillary Clinton trashing over on Fox News. In between, I’d snack on the MSNBC hosts sniping at Rubio, Bush, Cruz and Christie.

While I was writing, I’d absentmindedly click to the Huffington Post and chomp on its political hand-wringing, then, when I got tired of the taste, I’d start gulping down Kardashian chips and fried Bruce-Caitlin sandwiches.

By the end of the day, I felt bloated and exhausted. I was sagging from the fat angry news “analysts” and anchors who fancied themselves Howard Beale from “Network.”

When I stepped on the scale and saw how much overkill I’d put on, I said, “Good Lord, I’m a whale.”

And I made a vow.

This year would be different.

Don’t need to know every detail

This year, I do not need to know everything that Donald Trump said, and then what others said about what he said, and then what Trump said about what they said, and then what they said about what Trump said about what they said.

I do not need to know about the latest poll, since by the time they report on the latest poll, there is another poll.

I do not need to sip on every detail of every weird story. It doesn’t really matter whether Rachel Dolezal calls herself white or black, or some spoiled college freshman feels insulted by a professor. One person is an incident, not a national trend. The whole country doesn’t need to eat it up like pizza.

If another Deflategate happens, I will read about the initial reports and wait until the final conclusions; I refuse to absorb one more calorie about how much air should be inside a football.

Likewise, I will not waste a single taste bud on any scandal involving Josh Duggar, Scott Disick or anyone on reality TV, since the whole reason they stay on reality TV is scandals.

I may bite on the first story that says Calvin Johnson is considering retiring, but not the second, eighth or 301st — not until he actually confirms something. And if Jim Harbaugh takes his shirt off — good for him. That’s not a meal. No matter how beefy you think he is.

I won’t be swallowing a morsel of anything Kanye West says at an awards show. And a “Twitter feud” isn’t a real feud.

Talk about empty calories.

Perspective needs time

If it sounds like I’m shirking my responsibilities, well, I’m not. My job is to offer perspective, and it’s hard to keep your perspective when your beak is always dipped in the bowl of now-now-now.

Remember, it was not long ago that people felt amply informed having read a morning newspaper and watched the evening news. What changed? Do you really think journalism got better? I’d argue the opposite. Do you really think there is more to know now? I’d suggest the reverse. The trivial has overtaken the significant. Style has crushed substance.

What you get now is a whole lot of undigested developments and a pounding stream of analysts who are so often wrong, nobody keeps score.

The cumulative effect is a dragging, sagging feeling of the world being an angry, scandalous place. That can’t be healthy. What’s healthy is forsaking the airwaves for real air, taking an outdoor breath now and then instead of another indoor mouse click. Put down that news cookie. Drop that three-layer Trump cake. Remember, this is an election year, the fastest way to get obese on hysteria.

Not me. Not this year. Each morning, I will get on the scale and check my real weight versus my media weight. And if I’m losing the battle, I’ll hit the gym.

I just hope they don’t have the TVs on.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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