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How to Become Depressed

May 2, 2019

So you’re feeling a little too happy and optimistic and you want to tamper those feelings of ease and peace and contentment down a little, huh? The answer is simple: turn on the network, or your local, news.

OK, so turning off the news isn’t a cure for depression, but I can tell you from my experience that it helps. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Proverbs don’t stick around for hundreds of years because they’re not true so unless you’re into watching Game of Thrones, put thoughts of politics and corruption and greed and violence out of your sight and you’re not going to think about them. Or in mathematical terms: Turn off the news = Don’t see all the crap = Don’t think about all the crap = Feel a little better about the world you live in. And then with that free time you suddenly find yourself having you can fill it up with some cool stuff like listening to music or writing or meditating or reading or cleaning house or taking a nap. Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of stuff and the news is only a half hour, but if you’ve been watching the local news and then the network news that’s an hour every day and you’d be surprised what you can do with an extra hour every day. You’d be surprised what you can do with only a half hour.

If you try it you’ll find that it’s not a totally ineffective treatment option.

The downside to this for me is that after a few weeks of no news I start to feel a little out of touch, and as bad and sad and depressing and distressing the local and national news is, the news is, after the weather, what most people talk about, so when you find yourself in a conversation and someone says, “Did you hear what <fill in the blank> did/said/happened?” about all you can say is, “Huh?” and they look at you oddly. Or you can say, “No, I don’t watch the news.” at which point the person who asked you the question looks at you oddly and says, “Huh?” If you have a dollop of social anxiety along with your depression then these aren’t good things to have happen to you. So for me, I started peeking at the news periodically and I’d listen to a couple of stories and read the news ticker at the bottom of the screen and turn it off again and then go make dinner.

I’ve found that works. It keeps me knowledgeable enough to say more than, “Huh?” in answer to a question about what’s going on in the world and it keeps people from looking at me like I’m odd. Unfortunately, the downside is that once in a while you tune in to a particularly depressing story that punches holes in your strategy and that happened when I tuned in to the ABC network news yesterday evening and saw a story about a guy in Washington who called 911 to report a home invasion and in addition to reporting the story they played the actual 911 tape. The caller was a gun owner who was hiding in his bedroom closet. The fear and panic in his voice was evident which was disturbing enough, but then while the 911 operator was asking him a question, we heard gun shots and learned the caller had shot and killed the 29-year-old home invader. So those of us unlucky enough to have been watching at that time heard a man die on television.

911 operator: “We’ve got officers coming, what’s going on? What happened? I heard shots, what happened?”

Caller: “I had to shoot him, he came after me. I’m in my closet in my bedroom.”

OK, so what’s for dinner?

So much for the self-help suggestion. Now for a little rant.

I don’t understand why the story of a homeowner defending his home wasn’t enough all by itself and why someone thought the story needed the actual audio of the intruder being killed? Is there no discretion in the newsroom? Isn’t there anyone saying, “Yeah, but…?” I don’t care that the homeowner was a gun owner, and I don’t care that the man who was killed was breaking into someone else’s home, and I don’t care that he was a criminal, and I don’t care that he was a ‘bad guy’ who was up to no good. I care that someone making the decisions on what type of news we need to know thought it was necessary to have millions of us listen to someone – a real flesh and blood person – die and why that decision-maker thought that would be informative or thrilling.

I’m going back to “Huh?” and odd looks now.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2019 11:13 am

    I find that getting busy during the news hour–classes, walks, naps, dinners out in places with no TV on the wall–means I often miss the nightly news carnage.
    That being said, we have to have some of that stuff spill over into our lives because…it really does spill over into our lives. Somebody has to be NOT numb enough to actually care/be shocked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      May 4, 2019 4:21 am

      I don’t disagree, Liz, but I don’t know if shock and caring means anything anymore because the news moves so quickly. A story that cries for outrage airs one night and 24 hours later – if even that long – it’s another story and the first one is forgotten. Causes rise and scream for justice and people care for a couple of days until the next episode of Game of Thrones airs and then it’s forgotten.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 4, 2019 8:13 am

        Yeah. But i’m saying activity first often can bring one to a place of peace and renewal…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. May 2, 2019 2:25 pm

    I care that we can hear that. Every writer knows the difference between showing and telling, and that a literal video recording of a shooting is more intense and emotionally draining than reading a clinical “the homeowner shot the man when he invaded the home.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      May 4, 2019 4:29 am

      I guess the goal is to present the news in the most lurid and vivid manner possible so we think we’re watching a Schwarzenegger movie. The by-product of short attention spans maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 4, 2019 6:50 am

        We’ve always been morbidly curious. I think the problem lies in people not complaining. Someone has to put his foot down.
        One of the other bloggers I follow wrote about how royal births used to be very public affairs, but our current queen was the first to kick the official government officer out of the hospital room during delivery. 😀 You gotta speak up.

        Liked by 1 person

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