There’s ‘news’ and then there’s News

cotton-candy2Every morning I follow pretty much the same routine. I wake up, make myself a cup of tea, turn on my laptop and catch up on the ‘news’.

“Jennifer Aniston is still postponing her wedding but claiming everything is wonderful. Miley is twerking while prepping for her inevitable mental collapse/OD. Lilo is rehabbed but hanging out with a rather nasty married junkie and oh.my.god. look at little Nori (North).. soooo cute.”

1,200 people gassed in Syria.

“Robert Patterson is stepping out with someone new. Bradley Cooper is lying in a park reading Lolita to some model. Wow, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas split!    Check out Jessica Simpson and her kids in US Weekly. Oh Kardashians please go away”

US to bomb Syria in response to gassing of 1,200 citizens

Next up, Facebook.

“Oh fun, my sister ran 3 miles today. And my buddy turns 40-something – got to remember to post something on this wall. Oh look, Jeannie is looking forward to that show tonight and cool, Pete finally got out of hospital after his surgery. Must remember to post that video of Jon Stewarts monologue from last night.. so funny.”

Russia bans homosexuality support or expression.

Time for some Huffpo.
“50 years since MLK speech. I wonder what Obama will say tonight? Cool.. there’s a new iPhone coming out in a few weeks. 10 Best Small Towns to live in America – oh look, Colorado has one. Gay rumors around Cory Booker? Who cares?”

At which point my ‘news’ catch up for the day is done. 30 -45 minutes of reading and I’ve pretty much soaked up about 100 ‘news’ headlines pertaining to famous people being photographed in cute or not cute outfits, people having babies, cute animal videos and a scandal or two.  Maybe later I’ll catch up on my favorite blogs, check in on Jezebel and update my own blog.

Meanwhile actual news is going on. Little of which has registered in my world.

(In fact, the only reason I knew about Russia and the whole homosexuality ban was because there was a photo of a famous actress (Tilda Swinton) holding a rainbow flag in front of the Kremlin.  A photo which made me wonder ‘why is she supporting Prop 8 in Russia?’ before I clicked elsewhere…yes, I am cringing).

And I know I’m not alone. We’re all guilty. After all, who has the time, energy and emotional wherewithall to learn about other people suffering in other places? To care that Russians are now banned from admitting or supporting homosexuality. Doesn’t impact me. Plus, have you seen the size of my AMEX bill? Do you know how much work I have to get done today? And don’t get me started on the Bachelor.  You see, all my worrying is tied up for now. I’m kind of too busy to worry about Russia, or Syria, or starving people or womens rights or… or….anything that actually matters.

Except I’m not too busy… to check out Jennifer Aniston’s newest purse, or see what ridiculous thing Gwyneth just said. I just prefer that ‘news’ (the light fluffy cotton candy that most of us register),  to actual news. You know, the stuff which impacts the world and the people who live in it.

News…Its such a downer.

I’m not sure where this acceptance of world ignorance started. I used to walk a mile or two every day to pick up a newspaper when I was in school. I religiously devoured the Independent and the Guardian every day and spurned my Dad’s daily read as tabloid trash.  I read the newspaper cover to cover – politics, world news, editorials, business news.. the only thing I allowed myself to skip was Sports. News was vital – it made me feel connected to the world and I enjoyed trying to figure it out – how would the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland ever be resolved? Would Israel and Palestine ever reach agreement? Could North Korea build a nuclear bomb? Were those crazy Americans really going to impeach their president over a blow job? And campaign finance reform? Bring it on!

Stories about celebrities -babies, clothes, idiotic surveys, videos of kittens or puppies- were like dessert or chocolate after the entree (the actual News). A treat. A throwaway nothing to remove the bitter taste of the reality that was ‘stuff going on in the world’. We knew that celebrity marriages and ‘oops’ moments weren’t News.. they were just a bit of sugar to help the rest go down.

Today, with the proliferation of media options, no-one is forcing us to eat our greens any more and we get to eat dessert for every meal.. every day. Why bother reading about stuff which doesn’t impact us, is far away and really.. just kind of depressing? After all.. reading about it doesn’t change anything, and what change could we affect anyway? Its much more fun to escape reality and wind down the day with some Kardashian crap, right?

Except… except… ignorance isn’t acceptable. And while you might not be able to change something over in another country (or even within your own), don’t you want to at least know about it? How can anything change if you’re not even aware that something is going on? And while I’m one of the worst offenders (my browsing history reads like a 13 yr old teenage girls magazine).. I can’t help but feel that maybe I’m overdosing on sugar these days. That I need some greens. If nothing else, if the world is about to end.. I sure want to know how it came about and who’s firing the missile. And if Texas decides to close the last 5 abortion clinics, I know as sure as hell, its not popping up on US Weekly.  And if someone decides to spy on everything I do and say, my extensive knowledge of Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez sure isn’t going to be very helpful in figuring out my rights as a citizen.

So today I’m going to stop treating Jennifer Aniston’s non pregnancy as news and start actually reading the ‘News’. Its not as sweet and mindless as what I’ve become used to but I can’t excuse my ignorance of the world around me any more. I don’t want to wake up one day and find myself wondering if ‘Chicken of the Sea’ is really chicken. And to be honest, I can’t laugh at the stupidity of those Kardashians if I don’t know any better myself.

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