Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bad News Abounds

There are certain things I just don’t do anymore (thanks to suggestions from my Stiletto posse) which include Googling my name, checking my Amazon numbers, or reading reviews (I’m in good company…apparently Philip Roth doesn’t read his reviews either). I’ve found that all are anxiety producing and I don’t need any reason to feel more nervous than I already do on a daily basis. But last night, after checking out the first ten minutes of the local news—something I do every evening at five o’clock—I’ve added that to my list. No more televised news. Ever—or until my resolve wavers.

We have had a particularly bad stretch of bad news in these parts, though I don’t think we’re unusual in that regard. In the past week alone, we’ve lost a local police officer (a father of three) to a gunshot wound to the face. A woman, inexplicably driving the wrong way on a local road, died in a crash as did her three nieces, her daughter, and three men in another car that she hit. A woman jumped to her death from a local bridge a few nights ago. A young dad walking through Central Park was hit by the branch of a one hundred year old tree and went into a coma. And we’ve always got the fluctuating Dow Jones Industrial, the now-bankrupt “Cash for Clunkers” program, the unemployment rate, and the fate of universal health care to make us remember that not too many good things are happening in the country or the world.

I’ve decided that a head in the sand approach is the best defense against all of this. Goodbye televised news. Hello glass of chardonnay and latest copy of chick lit book.

I made a decision years ago to not see any movies that might upset me. So as good as I hear “The Hurt Locker” is and how amazing the direction is, I’m not going to see it. People possibly getting blown up in Iraq? No, thank you. I thought maybe I’d cut my work day short on Friday and go see “Funny People” until I read in a review that one of the main characters has a fatal blood disease. That’s out. I’m thinking “Aliens in the Attic” might be my safest bet. If one of those aliens—or god forbid one of the children—in the movie meet an untimely end, I will be extremely perturbed.

We’re only a few days into the news moratorium, so I’m not exactly sure how long it will last and I’m sure curiosity will eventually give way. And I also have to admit that I’m still reading the paper every morning, even though I skip the nasty stuff and go straight to the “Hot Finds for Summer!” (it’s always sandals I’m too old to wear) in the Style section or the sports section, where the list of steroid users and their pathetic excuses grow by the day. As someone who has been on steroids for medical reasons, I can tell you this: anyone who would willingly take steroids without a necessitating medical condition is a moron. Plain and simple. Between the weight gain, the mood swings, and the hair sprouting up in places where hair shouldn’t grow on a woman (let’s leave it at that), I wouldn’t care if I could hit a ball a country mile. They just aren’t worth the trouble. (Unless you’ve got extreme intestinal distress, in which case, they are a god send.)

Is there more bad news than usual? Or have I just become extremely sensitized to it? On the plus size, we had the beer summit…and the beer summit…and…I can’t think of anything else. What’s the good news coming out of your neck of the woods these days? And what do you do to combat the weariness you feel after reading day after day of horrible news?

Maggie Barbieri


  1. OK--I know it was unintentional, Mags, but you typed "on the plus SIZE" rather than "on the plus SIDE" and that made me laugh hard (because I spend lots of time living on the plus size, myself!).

    Those two women journalists are home after being imprisioned in North Korea. That seems good. Although I'm always torn because I think that people who know full well they are taking huge risks with their choices and behavior shouldn't be surprised when it bites them south of the equator.

    Seriously, I write to work through lots of emotions and news. It's become one of the major ways I process things in life. You remember the advice about writing a letter you don't send to someone with whom you're angry? It's like that, but on steroids.

    Aside from writing about news and ideas I find disturbing, I take a walk, watch a favorite musical or comedy, or maybe read about or listen to an interview with a favorite author or other luminary.

    Luminaries are good--they through that much needed positive light on a bad, dark day.

    And, I also avoid things I won't enjoy or can't sit through, like violent films and television, gorno and the like. It's so sad that people find that entertaining.

  2. Your post really resonated with me. The bad news stories seem to be piling up. It doesn't even help to think "I'm just going to get my news from the Daily Show. The cast always makes me laugh."

    I have found something (sadly, I doubt how effective it will just seems so hokey) - I did a Google search on "Happy News" and several websites came up. I scanned the headlines on There were some that piqued my interest. Still, my options seemed shallow. Why is it, do you think, that good news feels forced? Can't fluff be newsworthy?

    At any rate, I appreciated your post. Thanks, and happy writing!


  3. Don't go see Funny People to laugh, it's the first movie I've walked out on years. Do people really think raunchy is funny? We sat through 30 minutes hoping things would change, they didn't.

    My 20 plus year old grandsons would probably like it--but my daughter and son-in-law felt the same way hubby and I did. We left and went to see another movie.