NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
Feeling depressed, anxious, angry and can’t put your finger on why? It could be you’ve been mainlining too many online downers…
My name is Duncan, and I’m a newsaholic. I’m also like a chocaholic, but for booze. But that’s a column for another day.
Pretty much from the moment all the newspapers went online, I started reading them. At the time I thought I could handle it, but before I knew it I was chasing the fix in every spare moment I had. And some time around the second Gulf War, the quality started to go waaay down. It was cut with partisan fury. Its potency was upped, but what had once been a stimulant was now a major downer.
After ten years of consumption I was constantly stressed, paranoid, and my IQ had diminished by a good 27 points or so.
Rolling bad news was just the gateway drug, though. Somewhere along the line, I’d started reading the comments ‘below the line’. I’d said I never would, but I was weak.
Before I knew it, I was mainlining a diet of conspiracy theory, ad hominem attack, confected outrage and relentless negativity. We’re talking about the commentary of people who can work an inflammatory reference to Israel and Palestine into a discussion on the best way to make an omelette. People of such moral and political certainty, they make Isis look like the Uniting Church on a particularly wobbly day.
Of course, once I was hopelessly addicted, The Sydney Morning Herald started to demand actual money if I wanted to read it – I know, shocking, right? I happily paid. Then the Daily Telegraph did too. Interestingly, this was shortly before it started to turn into a weird version of Buzzfeed (“You won’t believe how this Manly man saved money on his Opal Card with this one weird trick!”). But I still handed over my hard-earned.
No matter which outlet wants payment for its sanity-wrecking services next, I’ll no doubt cough it up. The only way I could sink deeper into addiction is by chugging those single-issue, “special interest” political news sites, where the real loons, bores and creeps share their thoughts.
From years of reading all this crap, I know that the readers of the Australian and the Guardian are essentially the same, but coming from the more bonkers fringes of the right and left respectively. The ones on the The Australian are more like a collection of retired dunderheads, eking out their days talking nonsense to each other. I don’t mind them so much, actually.
Who can blame them for being mad, or boring? There’s a lot of bad news in the world, and they can’t wait to give it to us. They chuck nuggets of grim tidings to the ravening online mob, ready for them to be ripped to pieces and noisily regurgitated.
So I have had enough of being up to date. It’s time to kick the habit and become blissfully ignorant. I’m going to kick my news habit. Not now, but soon. How about Lent?