Feeling queasy? Disoriented? Like you’ve just stepped off a roller coaster ride after a 500-foot drop?
Me too. There has been so much news lately, all of it so frantic and feeling so dang weird, that I’m suffering from whiplash. My stomach refuses to settle and my brain is about to explode.
Every day or so — wait, let me correct myself — every hour or so a breaking news alert, sometimes contradicting the previous one, pops up on my smartphone. Or blares out on the car radio. Or interrupts a TV show. It’s as if someone has hit the fast-forward button on life and now refuses to let up.
Occasionally these updates are minor, insignificant even, but lately the news alerts are truly stop-what-you’re-doing whoppers. The kind of tidbit that makes you want to pick up the phone and tell a friend or spouse, “Did you hear what happened…” Of course if you’re slow to the trigger, that piece of information will be as dated as an eight-track cassette.
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The news cycle is beginning to remind me of summer weather in my hometown of Miami. Too sunny? Fret not, it’ll rain by the afternoon. Depressed by leaden skies? Relax. The sun will peek out if you give it a few minutes. In other words, wait long enough and your weather concerns are likely to change.
The recent onslaught of news follows that pattern. You think you know something one minute, only to see it debunked or denied a few minutes later. But it’s more than just the back-and-forth. It’s the blitzing pace of news. We’ve gone from the slow leak of a bathroom faucet to the blast of a water cannon. Coming at you, coming at you, coming at you, comingatyoucomingatyoucomingatyoucomingatyoucomingatyou.
The examples are many, but let’s start with a non-partisan issue: the stock market. One Monday the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composites closed at record highs after a rise in tech and oil prices. By Wednesday the news had soured. The Dow Jones industrial average, a different index, was down more than 370 points, giving the stock market its biggest single-day slump in eight months.
Like I said, Wait long enough …
Then there’s the Russia/White House/ Michael Flynn/James Comey thingamajig. Blaring everywhere, updated constantly, it’s impossible to tune out, impossible to predict the twists and turns, the ups and downs. Once again fact has proven stranger than fiction. I’m sure every political thriller author in America is complaining that it’s impossible to compete with reality. And the drama shows no sign of slowing, either. In fact, this Shakespearean production gets more tangled by the hour — nay, by the minute. The bombshells just keep coming, and coming, and coming. Pretty soon we’ll all need helmets and flak vests.
The sub-plots can be just as confusing and overwhelming, too. Press Secretary Sean Spicer is in. Then he’s out. Then he’s in. And the next thing we know he’s hiding behind bushes to avoid the media. (Not exactly true, by the way, since he was actually “huddled with his staff among bushes near television sets on the White House grounds,” according to the Washington Post.)
Of course we’re overwhelmed. It’s all too much, too fast, too often.
I’ve long prided myself on being something of a news junkie, but I’ve turned off some alerts, put my phone on vibrate and limited the number of times I check email and websites. I scroll right past any Facebook postings that might spike my blood pressure and do my best to ignore the angry tweets that stitch through Twitter like a quilt sewing machine.
I gotta do something. My sanity is on the line.