The A B C’s and O C D’s of Keeping Yourself Informed or How Not to be A Debbie Downer
I like to be informed. Not like I like gelato or wood fired pizza, but you know, I think it’s important. I read a lot. I try to educate myself. I watch documentaries. Oh yeah, I’m the Debbie Downer friend who can tell you about the Frontline episode that reported on the abuses that ISIS subjects the women and children they kidnap from Northern Iraq to, or how GMO crops are challenging the third world farmers they promised to help. I know most people don’t want to hear about this stuff–I can tell by their glazed eyes. Let’s just say I’ll never be voted the “Most Fun Facebook Friend of the Year” and if I hung out with people who gave them, I wouldn’t be invited to cocktail parties either. Luckily, I mostly hang out with the old man and the dog, who are fairly tolerant and generally let me know when I need to shut up by chewing on their toes.
Educating myself is something I have done all my life. It’s something that I find myself focusing on more pointedly as I’ve aged. It’s seems that as my remaining time here on earth gets shorter, my curiosity and desire to know stuff accelerates. There is so much I still don’t know. The old ticking clock syndrome as applied to my intellectual life. Luckily, dwindling estrogen levels haven’t affected the fertility of my learning and imagination powers too much, although I do forget a lot. What was I writing about?
Oh yeah, right, learning. It takes up a lot of my energy. It eats into time I might use to pursue new hobbies or meaningful employment, whatever that is. I think I had some once. It might be bordering on a form of mental illness, this need I feel to know things. Perhaps it’s just a manifestation of OCD which I’ve channeled in a different direction than your typical hoarder or compulsive hand washer.
Social media and the twenty four hour news outlets feed the compulsion–if I let them. I’ve gotten a handle on the news thing and don’t watch too much anymore. Sometimes I tune into PBS News Hour or BBC America. Good, boring, old fashioned journalism. That’s what I like. And Aljazeera network has really good environmental news coverage. But the network news and the heavily editorialized news media outlets really don’t appeal to me. I like to think for myself and form my own opinions without the input of media personalities and emotionally charged tabloid style rhetoric. Besides, all those blonds with perfectly straightened hair and white teeth really make me feel alienated. I spend a lot of time on Facebook reading the posts from various news feeds and organizations whose opinions I trust. Social media is tricky, though, and while I may agree with the views of some posts I follow, I am often appalled at the partisan and divisive nature in which the content is delivered. It’s reach out and touch someone not reach out and crush someone people!
Sometimes it’s quite problematic, this urge to know. It’s depressing. There’s a lot of bad news out there and a lot of heartbreaking truth. People killing each other in the name of Religion. People exploiting others in the most ungodly ways in the name of capitalism. People arming themselves and their families heavily, in desperate hopes of protecting themselves from an increasingly threatening and dangerous world.
The polar ice caps are melting. The oceans are warming up. The weather patterns are shifting and becoming less predictable and more extreme. Polar bears, seals and adorable little penguins are struggling to adapt to less ice and more sea. Fukushima is still leaking radioactive water into the Pacific. And the west coast is overdue for the mother of all earth quakes. Yeah, it’s depressing. Excuse me while I take a break to stock my earth quake preparedness bag.
Because I’m not one to shy away from truth. I don’t want to delude myself into believing that the world could not possibly be reeling under the weight of 400 ppm of CO2 in it’s atmosphere just because it’s not a happy thought or I’m worried about windmills blocking the view from the waterfront condo I hope to own someday. I don’t want to shut my eyes and hum when the question of what to do about ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis comes up. I want to learn as much as I can about global climate change, the effects of the Iraq war, the plight of the Syrian refugees and the challenges to the honey bee population. And besides, television entertainment has just gotten so lame. Do we really need to spend several hours a week biting our finger nails over which overweight babe in stilettos can tango without tripping or which pop singer wanna be is gonna be signing with Disney next year? It’s just not that important.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking–what a drag bag. But honestly, if you knew me, you might be surprised. I’m actually quite funny. I’m sure I’m freaking hilarious at times. I come from a big, fat, funny family and the competition to make each other laugh as kids gave all of us a fairly well honed sense of humor. But I’m not a clown and I don’t have to be one to be liked. I have my looks to fall back on for that.
The thing is, I am a person who wants to engage in the fullness of the human experience, good and bad, happy and sad, sweet and sour. I want to laugh and cry and protest and clap and celebrate and grieve and love and dislike and be exhilarated and deflated and live through all the ups and downs that make life the ride and the learning experience that it is. I need to be able to communicate it all too. The funny, the sad, the alarming, the uplifting. The things that make you laugh and cry too. So forgive me, but IMHO, we could all use the education and information a lot more than the entertainment right about now. “To everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose…” Except for Donald Trump talk. I’m done with that.