Some years ago now, we cancelled our cable television subscription. We did not replace it with any other kind of reception. At the time, we had dumb phones, so there was no watching of old TV show (my husband’s current favorite is The Rifleman), or YouTube videos (I like amusing cat and dog videos).
Cancelling our service made a profound change in our lives. Chief among the changes was that I completely stopped keeping abreast of the news.
It wasn’t until I stopped keeping tabs on crime (local and national) and international doings that I realized how much stress that had added to my life. I found an inner calm that, before then, I had thought was not possible.
But, I got to thinking that perhaps I was remiss. Everyone else seemed so wrapped up in who did what to whom, celebrity doings, political intrigues, and that like that I thought maybe I was shirking my civic duty in some basically unfathomable way.
I lost touch with the latest sports scores. I had no idea about what new movies were coming out or what the new season on television was bringing to the small screens all over the country. Eventually, I figured out that it was not my civic duty to keep informed and I stopped worrying about it.
These days, when someone walks up to me and says, “Hey, what do you think about … ?” I don’t automatically cringe inside and feel like apologizing for not knowing a dang thing about it.
And you know what, it hasn’t mattered one little bit that I don’t know who won America’s Got Talent or Dancing With The Stars. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t have a clue about the latest stupid thing that Trump has said. Truly, none of it affects my day to day existence.
I also don’t miss the commercials. For a long time before we cancelled our cable service, we had been recording the few things we wanted to watch so that we could fast-forward through the commercials. I have never been a fan of them and never will be. I think they are harmful with their fear messages: heaven forbid your house should smell like your house and not like a spring morning, what will people think if you have damp spots on your clothing under your arms, blah, blah, blah.
Think about it. When our country was new, there were small local newspapers and really slow snail mail. People in the northeastern part of our country had no real idea what was going on in the southeastern part on a day-to-day basis. Did it change their lives significantly? I can’t know for certain, but I’m willing to bet that they just went about life, scratching out an existence as best they could, and didn’t worry too much about the rest of it. And seriously, why would I want to know that there is a chance some dumb country will lob a nuclear missile at the good old United States of America in a fit of utter pique? Such an event will either be thwarted or not. And if not, that’s the end. Would the knowledge it might happen change anything about what I might do that day? Nope.
Did I tell my husband that I loved him? Check. Did I send my sister and email in which I told her that I loved her? Check. Did I walk Maddie and see to her comfort and happiness? Check. Did I feed Bonfire and brush him and love on him? Check. So, nothing to worry about. One of my mom’s favorite sayings was that we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I think that can be applied to most of the things that might go wrong in your life. Her point was, did worrying about it make it better. The answer was always no.
Today, both my husband and I have smart phones so we are a little more informed than previously. My husband has more interest in the news than I do. I prefer to read about the latest discoveries in physics or astronomy or the newest information about health from the medical perspective (not the crazy rantings of devotees of this stupid diet or that new cure for toe fungus). Some of what I read can be presented in a fairly sensational manner. But none of it is akin to television commercials or the sensationalism that seems essential to “selling” the news. And the ads that pop up on most sites, well I just ignore them. They are not what interests me.
I’m not advocating completely disconnecting. I’m not saying we should throw away our cell phones, unplug our TVs and completely ignore the world at large. I don’t think that’s entirely possible in this day and age. And I like my cell phone. It gives me a sense of security when I drive from place to place. I know that help is only a phone call away. It might in reality be a false sense of security, but it’s what I’ve got right now.
So here’s my suggestion. Try not watching anything even remotely newsy for a week. See if it doesn’t make a positive change in your life. I’m willing to bet that it will.