The day the news died

I was on the treadmill. It was late 2016. I caught myself watching Good Morning America after 8am, instead of C-SPAN, CNN or MSNBC. I never watched “those” morning shows – the ones with the cute banter and cuter outfits, with audiences waving inside and outside and segments about the hottest new something – toys, cars, roombas or coffee presses. In fact, I’d wondered most of my adult life, who watches those shows? How do people watch Matt Lauer? How did people watch Katie Couric (never a fan)? Like, for more than the second you browsed past the channel?

Harsh? No. Snobby? Maybe. I read this back and I pretty much hate the way it sounds. But just like with the news, I’ve always loved documentaries, foreign films, independent movies and stuff that makes you ache, since I can remember. I never watched any of the morning shows even though I’ve long wondered, who did and why did their hosts make so much and why did people care so much about attending those shows? Like I wondered, who bought all the Dwell magazines and the fitness magazines and the gossip magazines I only read at the hair salon or the dermatologist’s office?

And then I was maybe three minutes into cooling down and I hadn’t changed the channel. I caught myself watching, listening to, following the GMA post-8am segment even though it was a “let’s make the audience guess what vintage network television show theme song we’re playing”. The kind of segment I always blew past, in the past, because I thought it was too vapid for the rare time I would be watching television as it’s being broadcast. I haven’t watched a series on tv at the time it’s broadcast regularly, except for SNL and 60 Minutes, in maybe 10 years, 15 years? No memory of the last time.

I sighed and laughed and face palmed all at the same time as I thought about how I’d last played the song guessing game when I was camping out, me in one tent and a couple who were friends of mine in the other and we were being silly. And we were 24 or 25.

And then I got sad. Very very sad. Because I realized I’d crossed some line into a world where my preferences were going to tilt away from a lifetime love of current affairs, news and politics, and bend toward anything that might make me forget the present even if only momentarily.

I used to find shows like GMA mind-numbing, not stimulating. And for most of 2017, that was okay. It probably explains a bit about why I couldn’t put words into this blog too. But I think I’m in a new normal when it comes to the mix of what I watch when I watch. I’ve also discovered podcasts and I’ve done a lot more book reading in the last 12-18 months.

How have your information consumption habits changed since 2016, if they’ve changed?

 

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