Many millions of people have spent the last four months in sadness and depression. It’s hard to watch the world shattered by the bad behavior of governments – and to see too many among us cheer the destruction – and not feel a sense of despair.
And yet the human mind is an incredible thing. If we work at it, we can figure out a good takeaway from terrible events. Doing so – it takes effort – can brighten the spirits and point the way forward out of the morass.
I’ve taken three positives out of this experience.
First, I’m completely over my decades-old addiction to news. I always loved the news, even from when I was a kid. For years, I read the Washington Post with my morning coffee. Then I switched to the New York Times, and learned how to tease truth out of their biased but comprehensive coverage. Then I added the Wall Street Journal. When home assistants came along, I programmed mine to play 8 hours (if I needed it) of nonstop news: BBC, NPR, NYT, and so many others. It felt like such a luxury.
The turning point came for me on February 28, 2020, when the New York Times podcast (which used to be my favorite) sent out a piece of panic porn that predicted that the coronavirus would kill 8.25 million Americans, or “six of your friends.”
It came as a shock suddenly to realize that they turned over their main podcast to whipping up a public fear to back a lockdown. Explicitly. This was the agenda. They more or less admitted it. I knew at that moment that the paper had signed up to contribute to a malicious plot to enact an unprecedented social/political experiment.
The Times led the way. Pretty soon, the mainstream media became universally pro-lockdown, probably for political reasons. A widespread and mild virus, dangerous mostly to a particular demographic with low life expectancy and nearly harmless to everyone else, was rendered daily and hourly as a new bubonic plague.
I might have listened for a couple of more days. Then I stopped. The scales fell from my eyes. I decided, suddenly and shockingly for me, to stop filling my head with nonsense. The “news” was not getting me information to help me understand the world; it was clouding my ability to think clearly. A few months later, like clockwork, the revolution at the New York Times was complete when its opinion editor, hired to diversify the opinions in the paper, was unceremoniously fired for diversifying opinion in the paper. (The critical theory crowd has discovered new love for the right of institutions to fire people, contradicting decades of left-wing opposition to the same.)
I started getting my information by digging for it, finding reliable accounts on Twitter to follow, spending my time on statistical pages, and otherwise finding facts, reading history, and educating myself more deeply rather than just trust the media.
An exception here: the Wall Street Journal, which performed heroically throughout.
At this point, I can say that I’m never going back. My addiction to “the news” is over. I’m better off for it. It was painful but I’m glad.
Some readers are now saying: it’s about time. The news has always been about getting eyes and ears and selling advertising. It’s just entertainment. It became especially true with the 24-hour news cycle.
I don’t disagree. I should have given it up years ago. Even now, I can almost immediately tell the difference between a person who watches TV news or listens to mainstream radio vs. those are actually informed about what’s going on.
In any case, I count this as a real victory, courtesy of the lockdown.
Second, I’ve saved a tremendous amount of money from not going to restaurants, bars, and movies. I’m sad for all the places that have closed. It’s unjust and evil. But from my own perspective, I’ve learned to live a good life while spending probably 30% less than I did before. I’ve fallen back in love with cooking, homespun cocktails, and reading.
It’s all to the good. I doubt that I will go back, now that I can make all my favorite meals at a fraction of the price I used to pay. Now that things are opening, I perhaps will make my way out to some restaurants but I doubt I will ever go back to the way things were.