Feel­ing de­pressed, anx­ious, angry and can’t put your fin­ger on why? It could be you’ve been main­lin­ing too many on­line down­ers…

Australian T3 - - OPINION -

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?


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