Talking Heads

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Rush Limbaugh is an idiot, Dr. Laura is a sadist, George Will is the thinking man’s Bill O’Reilly, and Anne Coulter could have been Eva Braun’s competition. There’s a million more like all of them, jammed into every megahertz of the talk radio band, yabbering away like demented versions of Jim Carrey on methamphetamines, squawking their bird brains through every time slot on cable TV, and turning the op-ed pages into logic-defying Orwellian newspeak where “wrong” is the new “right.”

    These jerks are out of my life. All of them. With my illness I need to set boundaries. Rush Limbaugh on global warming? Don’t make me mad. Fortunately, I have a choice. My radio and clicker came with “off” buttons. This is my own way at flipping the bird at all of them.
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    So what happens? You turn on some nice bit of escapism, Iron Chef, Law and Order, SpongeBob SquarePants, whatever. But instead of Bikini Bottom and Squidward, there’s Katie Couric suddenly sounding like a surgeon in post-op, intoning, “Today in Lebanon …”

    Flashback to November, 2004. The results from the crucial swing state of Florida started to come in, and suddenly I felt like St Augustine when Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome in 410. An Age of Darkness was descending. All over the civilized world, the lights were going out. There was no way I could fend off my depression. All I could do was manage a soft landing. I was two times an outsider: a bipolar in a world of people terrified by my illness, and the only sane person in a world gone mad.

    Rush and all the rest were long out of my life by then. Now I had to make a much more difficult choice. I would no longer actively follow the news. No newscasts, no newspapers, no Newsweek, no Google newspage. Nothing.

    I don’t make such decisions lightly. I take my obligations as a citizen very seriously. It is my duty to stay informed, as well as (on occasion) speak out. If we make a commitment to educate ourselves, we might be able to manage the madness a bit, kind of like a macrocosm of our own illness.

    But when the oxygen mask drops from overhead, I need to put it on myself before attending to the person next to me. I need to take care of myself, first.

    I used to be a journalist in the print media, where I worked side by side with people in TV and radio and this embryonic new medium involving computers hooked up to other computers. I can assure you, none of my colleagues regarded their jobs as a nine-to-five. Even the most cynical among us felt a higher calling, and when we sniffed out a story we were all over it like CDC epidemiologists tracking down the latest new viral infection.

    But journalists are human. We tend to become so immersed in our stories or newsbeats that we often lose perspective. As a financial journalist in Australia in the late eighties, I saw the crashing stock market there as the start of financial Armageddon. Thankfully, my readers were more level-headed.

    So are today’s news reports more alarming than informing? You – and you alone – are the judge. If you reach your own conclusion that the news is clearly distressing to you, then it’s a good idea to figure out what kind of boundaries you need to set. We all have a million-and-one worries. Sometimes, our worries give us no choice. Other times we can pick our worries. Now is a good time to select your worries very carefully.
Published On: August 07, 2006