catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 7 :: 2014.04.04 — 2014.04.17


Zero time

When I was a little girl, Peter Jennings was a fixture at my house. Every night we sat down to supper at 5:30, which was when the nightly news would come on. And the four of us watched the world news.

I remember Baby Jessica falling into a pipe in the ground.

I remember the tanks lined up in Tiananmen Square.

I remember the horrific moment the Challenger exploded.

I remember watching the police chasing after OJ Simpson’s white Bronco.

I remember the wall coming down in Berlin.

I remember the day Princess Diana died.

My children don’t have such memories because I don’t watch the news anymore. I hardly even read it. My excuse is: I don’t have time.

I don’t know that that’s the real reason, though. I think the face of American culture is changing. People get their news from Facebook and Twitter now, me included. If there is enough buzz about a story, I’ll search Yahoo or Google news to read more, but most of the time I leave the news alone. It’s easier. It’s less inconveniencing. I’d rather just read the opinions about the news than read the actual news.

I tend to think of myself as a better person than that — you know, the type of person who cares enough to read/watch objective news. The type of person who cares about what’s going on in the world. Someone better than all those shmucks who read nothing but Buzzfeed.  

It turns out that I am one of those schmucks.

I read things so I can discover my opinions, and then I often share my opinions. I am just one voice among many fighting it out on social media. For every anti-Common Core article that friends share, I try to share a pro-Common Core article. For every anti-gay, this is truth! comment, I try to respond with a but what about love? comment. So here I am, negating another’s ideas, canceling out someone else’s opinion, until all we have left are zeros, but nobody really knows the news.

We have stopped letting the news shape us: instead, we are letting our tightly-clutched opinions shape us. We define ourselves by what we stand up for and against rather than uniting ourselves in concern and compassion for the humans of the world. The news can bring people together in ways that very few things can. But we have to let it.

Can we step off our soapboxes and step away from the argue-fest of social media long enough to let the news remind us of our own humanity? I hope we can. 

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