Without any fanfare, I stepped away from reading/watching the news and being on social media for the past seven days. In a given week, I not only open up dozens of articles that I see on Facebook from the NYTimes, Washington Post, the Atlantic and other media, but I have subscriptions to a number of news sources that are emailed to me on a daily basis. I often have 70-80 tabs open on my laptop with articles I want to read. The sheer amount of media I ingest is an all-you-can-eat-buffet of chicken-fried noise. Or to make another analogy, I am hit with a firehose–rather than a garden hose–of information that I voluntarily consume each day.
I’ve always believed that knowing what is going on is a sign of being an adult. Plus, I really admire and appreciate the work a free-press produces, not only because I have a kid who chose a career in journalism, but because in my nascent days, I was also a reporter and loved gathering the news, it’s in my blood. This recent media fast wasn’t so much because I was distressed by the never-ending reports about Covid-19 or the recent astroturf production of Covidiots protesting public health recommendations, or Trump’s latest tweets, the distress is always there, but because I am losing my days to reading the news and afterwards am too distracted to think.
While it was difficult to interrupt my first-thing-in-the-morning-scroll through Twitter, it helped to break that habit by reading a book on my phone when I first woke up. Same instrument, just different information. Instead of opening up stories in my in-box, I flat out deleted emails. By not reading through a hundred articles, it opened up time to do some meditation and more writing. I also had more time to read a few books, finish a couple of magazines and even watch some TV. As the week passed, my muses were coming out from hiding and daring me to listen.
But here’s where things got kind of funky. Today I scrolled through Facebook and felt agitated and angsty, like an alcoholic who desperately wanted a beer, but wanted more to be sober. I meditated and I had a vision of me standing in a large glass aquarium with dozens of goldfish swimming around me and realized these goldfish were ideas, swimming up to me and nibbling my toes. I knew it was up to me to capture one, or three and use them. But goldfish, like ideas, are slippery little buggers. They aren’t patient and you need concentration to catch one with your bare hands, which is difficult to do when your already distracted or your time is otherwise filled.
Me having my toes munched by tiny little Greek fish–in Athens.
I want to capture a few of these ideas, play with them and see if any grow into a respectable koi. Which is a long way of saying, that I’m going to stay away from the news and social media for a bit longer so if you don’t see me around the pond, or aquarium I’m okay, just wrangling some fish, nothingmore.