One of my writing workshops has a pretty quirky leader, which is great because he gives us lots of fun stuff to do. Last week, our objective was to write about an addiction we’ve struggled with personally, BUT we had to do it fast. Bonus points for injected humour a la the great Leonard Michaels. So, I went off on a rambling tangent, as usual, and when I read my piece of preposterous puffery out loud for everyone? Crickets. That’s what I heard, crickets…followed by a few polite smiles and nods of, “Oh! I guess we should be polite. Yes of course it was wonderful.” Anyway, I was a bit
pissed deflated and wanted to immediately shove it beneath the rock I wanted to crawl under. However, that totally goes against much of what I espoused here in the past about not giving a damn what anyone else thinks. So, lest I be accused of posting only the stuff I’m proud of, here’s just one of the many examples of the total shiite I crank out far too often. Enjoy!
Politics, tragedy, and mayhem; three boons to an industry that thrives on laying every ounce of it naked in de-personalized black and white for public consumption. Evil you say? Nah, it’s practical. It keeps our attention connected to the world, and it provides a free pass for the train wreck gawkers and antisocial voyeurs. They get to appear normal for once while hiding behind their gadget of choice.
This is why morning coffee should always be enjoyed along a plugged-in edition of early news. Not the old-fashioned kind served up in ten second sound bytes by happy, beautiful people on T.V., but the digital kind that requires no allegiance beyond choosing one internet provider out of a cartel of dozens. Why settle for one channel of indoctrinated bullshit when the World Wide Web promises a simultaneous barrage of thousands? Honestly, no self-respecting news junkie would be caught dead obsessing over less than ten.
Some people of course, don’t understand this simple fact. They cling to the flashy blah, blah, blah, what-the-hell-is-the-point, piece of propagandist puffery delivered over the airwaves via perfect, white teeth. Transfixed by rolling tickers of hopeful headlines regurgitated over and over, these steadfast viewers stand slack-jawed and silent, until someone laughs at their addiction. Silly amateurs.
For the truly obsessed, a loved one’s voice asking, “Are you still reading about that?” doesn’t merely redirect our attention to a nobler pursuit like golf. Oh no, no, no. After biting back a stinging retort about spying over shoulders, the panicked scramble to fabricate a valid reason why one hundred opinions about the evils of Windows 8.1, has in fact occupied hours of a perfectly good day. This only serves as a reminder our security measures to thwart such obsessive detection are lacking; time for operation deflect and deny.
The lucky connoisseurs can survive on nothing more than a passing glance at the headlines, weighing each one for worth before their eyes move on to the next. The rest of us are not so fortunate. We, the obsessed, are doomed to devour the same headlines across every possible news source, while analyzing the subtle nuances of language and syntax as though one journalist or blogger can deliver the knock out punch of truth. And yet, surely the skill of weeding out the legitimate journalists from armchair pundits who possess no more grasp of truth and logic than a piece of toast, is one worth culturing? No? Fine. Then don’t bother asking how to avoid the embarrassing faux pas of twisted, biased facts becoming the brilliance used to dazzle co-workers over the water cooler later.
True there may be more of normal than there are of us, but we’re everywhere, armed with links by Google and Wiki, and fueled by enough caffeine to argue even the most learned opponent under the table at 3 a.m. We are the family, friends, and colleagues with an answer for everything, and we’re always right. Still unsure who we are? It’s very simple really. Choose a headline and ask, have you heard the news? Most will say yes, yes they had heard about it, but one of the obsessed? Ah, well they will know how it started, the details, who has it right and who has it wrong, they’ll know the implications, ramifications, and at least twenty places to go to find out more. Of course, it is at this point the eyes of normal folk grow dull from the glaze of fear, and the urge to “back away slowly from crazy”, which brings me to what may be the best way to find us: the telltale trail of fleeing victims.