Watch­ing a train wreck syn­drome

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WEEKEND LIFE - Jan­ice Wells Jan­ice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at jan­icew@nf.sym­pa­tico.ca.

I don’t know what we’d do for en­ter­tain­ment if it wasn’t for the Amer­i­cans. They have some­thing for ev­ery taste. If you can’t find some­thing to grab you on net­work TV or Net­flix, you can be­come a CNN junkie/ masochist. Or a Fox junkie I sup­pose but that’s too scary for me to even con­tem­plate.

And don’t think it can’t hap­pen to you. I thought that. Even if you’ve never been the type to tear a Band Aid off slowly or ease your way inch by freez­ing inch into a body of wa­ter, you can be­come ad­dicted to hav­ing your mind numbed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis by CNN.

New­man is ad­dicted. I’ve fig­ured out that it’s kind of like a work sub­sti­tute thing with him; from nine to five CNN is never off in the cave; doesn’t mat­ter if he’s home or not. His ad­dic­tion is so bad that he keeps it on when he leaves so it will be ready for him when he re­turns. What other ex­pla­na­tion could there be? Some­times I go in and turn it off. I’d do that any­way be­cause wast­ing power drives me crazy, but some­times my driv­ing force is also the de­sire to pro­tect him, help him kick the habit, and some­times I ad­mit I like the evil feel­ing it

gives me. Ha ha.

For some bizarre rea­son my work desk is right un­der his drug of choice; the big TV on the wall. He sits about five feet away, get­ting a dou­ble fix in front of his com­puter with one ear on the TV.

So here I am this morn­ing, try­ing to write, and Hur­ri­cane Michael is about to hit land­fall in Florida. Nat­u­ral disasters are not en­ter­tain­ing in the con­ven­tional sense of the word, but they are fas­ci­nat­ing and com­pelling and make me feel so good about where we live that, even in the face of a New­found­land

win­ter, I can ac­tu­ally say things like, “why would any­one want to live in Florida, or Cal­i­for­nia?”

Amer­i­can news TV begs the ques­tion; which is more fas­ci­nat­ing; nat­u­ral disasters or un­nat­u­ral disasters?

Ever since the re­al­ity TV guy an­nounced his can­di­dacy for what was then con­sid­ered to be the most pow­er­ful po­si­tion in the world, re­al­ity be­came un­real. In the begin­ning, when­ever you thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre or un­be­liev­able, it did, and be­fore you knew it per­fectly or­di­nary

Cana­di­ans like New­man were hooked on CNN.

I call it the “watch­ing a train wreck” syn­drome; what hap­pens to you so that you can’t look away from some­thing hor­ri­ble.

Last week the Ka­vanaugh de­ba­cle both re­pulsed and fas­ci­nated us. It oddly evoked mem­o­ries of the OJ trial. (I knew peo­ple who stayed home from work to watch that and I was not one of them.) Maybe that was the begin­ning of re­al­ity TV, but it was nor­mal re­al­ity com­pared to what we have now, if you know what I mean.

I watch about an hour of CNN to New­man’s 10, so of course I en­joy feel­ing su­pe­rior about that, but in full dis­clo­sure, I ad­mit to you now that New­man has left the room and I have not turned off the TV or changed the chan­nel. I would have but I have a mor­bid in­ter­est in hur­ri­canes be­cause I know it that it will be our turn even­tu­ally, Igor not­with­stand­ing.

The aw­ful thing is that there is no end of any of it in sight. One of the an­nounc­ers just said, “There seems to be an his­toric storm ev­ery month or so.” It’s true. If it’s not hur­ri­canes, its wild­fires or earth­quakes or tsunamis or vol­ca­noes or land­slides. Or tweets. There’s noth­ing en­ter­tain­ing about cli­mate change, but the con­se­quences are mes­mer­iz­ing. And de­press­ing.

Sort of like Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal news cov­er­age.

Ever since the re­al­ity TV guy an­nounced his can­di­dacy for what was then con­sid­ered to be the most pow­er­ful po­si­tion in the world, re­al­ity be­came un­real. In the begin­ning, when­ever you thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre or un­be­liev­able, it did …

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You can be­come ad­dicted to hav­ing your mind numbed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis by CNN.

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