Breaking news: It’s all too much


If you follow the news like I do, you know it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Just when I didn’t think it could get any more intense, we were hit with more rapid-fire reports.

Government shutdowns. Caucuses and negotiations in real time from the Senate floor. Women marching in impressive numbers nationwide. The president’s trip abroad. The State of the Union. The State of the State in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Plus tragic fires, more school shootings and a flu season that won’t quit.

It’s almost too much, even for a news nerd. One of the commentators on I-don’t-remember-which-TV-station used that term, and I’m going to adopt it – it’s better than previously used terms, like news junkie. News nerd perfectly describes why, when I turn on the television at night and settle onto the couch, I just can’t get up.

But being a news nerd also frequently leads to feelings of despair, depression and the “when is it going to stop” dismay that many people are expressing these days.

It never used to be that way. Remember when you waited for the morning paper for your news update? Or maybe you got an afternoon paper with the latest news. And every evening, there was a news program on each of the three TV networks. In between, nobody expected an update. Sure, in times of tremendous breaking news, papers would put out a special edition or regular programming would be interrupted on TV. That was a long time ago.

Have you seen the movie “The Post”? For those who haven’t, it’s about the Washington Post during the time of the Pentagon Papers, in the early 1970s. For many, it brought back a lot of memories from an era when we waited to hear the latest – because there were no phones with continuous updates or on-screen 24/7 access to new developments.  

Recently, a millennial asked me what it was like to have to wait for the news. The concept was inconceivable to him. 

I’m dating myself now, but I remember the excitement at the start of CNN. The 24-hour Cable News Network was such a wonderful innovation for us news nerds because we could get our fix at any time of day or night.  As I recall, it was all news – no programming with news “stars.”

I guess I was a news nerd even then. But after months of such rapid-paced, nonstop news, I think I’m getting a little overwhelmed.

I’ve used this space before to recommend that you consider all points of view when you get your news. But it has become so intense now, with multiple networks, social media, and hundreds of experts and talking heads disagreeing about just about everything. With the pace of the news and the availability of so many viewpoints, how do we cope?

I’m thinking that occasionally unplugging may be the answer. I’m dialing down my news addiction. I’m going to try rationing. I’ll let you know how it goes. And maybe I won’t be up-to-date on the most current events.