It used to be just booze and dope. Then they added sex, porn and food to the list of addictions that prey on us.
How about news?
Can incessant hunger for breaking news qualify as an addiction?
While I was a student at Fordham, I was lucky enough to be hired as a copy boy at the New York Daily News. This was when the Daily News was a crusading, well-written hallmark of journalism, not the throwaway tabloid it is today.
Working at the Daily News not only paid my way through college, but it also caused me to fall head-over-heels in love with the idea of ferreting out the truth and delivering it to readers—all for a dime.
So I cast aside my original ambition to get a Ph. D. and teach English literature to college students. Instead, I reinvented myself as an under-paid but hard-drinking, sleeves-rolled-up, staccato-style New York City reporter.
That lasted only until I married, we had our first baby, and I went to work writing fluff for IBM so I could earn enough money to support a family.
But the news hound refused to die. It lives still, sniffing at my heels day and night. Has this caused headaches? Ask my wife. News on TV, news on the car radio, Earbuds as I fall asleep to all-news radio. And the Internet? OMG … the Internet!
I’ve resolved finally to sink a wooden stake into the heart of the blood-sucking monster and give up news once and for all. Cold turkey. The way I rid myself of nicotine thirty years ago.
I have begun by giving up news for Lent. Forty days without knowing wassup.
No more New York Times … Daily Beast … Google News … Wall Street Journal … CNN … Jim Lehrer … AP wire … I could go on.
At five o’clock each evening, I switch off local TV news and enjoy my martini with Dick van Dyke re-runs.
With three weeks of Lent behind me, how is it working out? Worse than giving up smoking.
I didn’t realize that without chasing news, news keeps coming at me. News items crop up everywhere on Facebook and LinkedIn. My wife mentions news items. I receive emails that talk about things happening in the news.
Temptation assaults me. No sooner did I drop my subscription to The New York Times than they emailed me an offer of 50% off an entire year’s rate. How do you pass up a deal like that?
And eating alone? Without reading news? You’ve got to be kidding.
A confession. On two occasions I sneaked a look at Google News on my iPhone when my wife was in another room. I HAD TO KNOW!
My last resort in fighting off the temptation and hobble through until Easter is to go on retreat at the Trappist monastery in the hills of western Massachusetts. For a week, I know I will be shielded—no Internet, radio or television. No magazines or newspapers. No conversation.
In my next blog, “Robots 1, Humans 0”
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