Bad News or No News

‘I see you hired a part time assistant at the store,’ I said to Camp as I sat down for our weekly relax and debrief over a couple of brews.

‘Muriel insisted that I take on some help to organize the store.’

‘Probably a good idea, now that the summer rush is over. How did you find the person and what’s her name?’

‘It’s Kelly. She is juggling three kids, a husband that always works away and has a desire to work. She is also a bookkeeper. Something I am not, as you know. All of that told, she was well organized. So far so good.  She has also convinced me to close the store on Monday’s, at least until the Christmas season starts.’

‘That would be right after Halloween.’

‘Don’t remind me. It’s still summer.’

“I’ve read an article this week by a Swiss writer who recommends a full ‘news diet’. No TV, no news app on your phone, no social networks, no news media. He claims that most of these outlets are contaminated with advertisers, unsubstantiated claims, uninformed opinions to downright fake and false information.’

‘Well, he has a point. The more news you read the more confused and depressing the whole world looks. Also it takes time, time that might be better spent playing with grandkids or reading a book.’

‘Yeah, I think I’m one of those news junkies and you’re right. My consumption of news never makes a difference in the big picture and it makes me feel either sad or mad or downright helpless.’

‘Here is today’s news smorgasbord,’ Camp said. Swiping across the screen on his smart phone. ‘Recession fears, bullish tweets by you know who, fires out of control in the Amazon and Siberia, the devastations by hurricane Dorian, drug lords  and FARC calling for war in Columbia, Boris and Brexit vs. the people, more demonstrations and crackdowns in Hong Kong, more world wide climate woes, logging in the Tsonga rain forest in Alaska  and on goes the list.’

‘And here at home we have a federal election to look forward to,’ I said, kind of weary and inundated with all these bad news stories. This writer who is also a psychologist advises the sooner we wean ourselves of our daily news feeds, the better off we’ll be with regards to time and peace of mind. He also claims that in a few years Artificial Intelligence will be able to tailor the news to our personal profiles, which will make it even harder to separate the chaff from the wheat.’

‘So this guy doesn’t vote, participate in discussions or make educated decisions with regards to finances, the environment or even politics? ‘

‘No, to the contrary,’ I said. ‘He gets his views from talking to friends and family, he consults specialists in their fields: finance, travel, products or whatever; he attends forums with real people like all candidates meetings around election time. ‘

‘Well, he sounds like my kind of guy. Most of the news we hear about are already filtered, vetted and tailored for mass consumption and the other point is that news today is mostly shallow and sensationally driven.  Hardly anybody pays for in-depth journalistic investigations anymore. ‘

‘The CBC still has a couple of programs like 5th Estate and The ‘Passionate Eye’ but they usually investigate a single issue.’

‘Ok, here is the deal. No news for one week. No TV, no phone apps, no newspaper. No clicking and scrolling. Just talking to the people you meet.Let’s try that and see wherethat leaves us next week.

‘Ok, it’s a deal. How do I know you don’t read your daily news bulletins or newspapers?’

‘It’s an honor system. It’s all about allocating your time in different ways. You’re allowed to read a political book or go see a movie. Just no op-eds or news flashes, no tweets, no TV news.’

‘What about sports? I want to know who wins the US open,’ I said.

‘That’s ok. Specific interests like sports and clear, definable results like election outcomes are not opinions or sponsored links.’

‘What’s new boys,’ Vicky asked while setting down two fresh pints.

‘We’re going to go on a news diet,’ Camp said, leaning back in his chair.

‘You mean limit your brain-food intake from junk to substance?’

‘Exactly, no more depressing and confusing world news we cannot control or do anything about.’

‘Good luck but extreme diets usually end up in a binge,’ Vicky said.


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