If you follow the news outside Meaford's borders, even in the most cursory of ways, you know that wherever you might turn in the world at the moment, it seems like chaos is the fashionable state of affairs these days.
From the shocking and saddening mosque shootings in New Zealand, to yellow vest protests in France, to a scandal in Ottawa, everywhere we look it seems that the news is not so great. But fear not, Spring has arrived, and it's perhaps a perfect time to disconnect from all those news feeds and focus on other things.
Being a self-confessed news junkie, I consume a lot of news from a wide range of sources, and from time to time I find that the news of the world is far more depressing and frustrating than I would like, so I like to disconnect every now and then and take a week away from consuming all but local news.
I'm not always successful – addictions are hard to break, but when I can successfully break free from the news cycle for a while I find my spirits lift and my energy increases. It's true, the antics of the current American president can be amusing (often in a horrifying way), but it can wear on you after a while – the most powerful man in the world can call people losers or low IQ individuals for only so long before the novelty wears off.
Now that Spring has arrived, I am planning a full week free of reading articles about trade wars or actual wars, a week devoid of terrorist attacks or talk of the upcoming federal election. Instead I am hoping to otherwise occupy myself with Spring-like endeavours like organizing my cupboards and closets, or giving the car a good vacuum, anything to avoid hard news for a while.
Until the last decade or so I had never felt the need to curb my news consumption habit; I had never felt overwhelmed by all that news outlets tossed my way. I blame the internet, and perhaps more specifically social media.
At the risk of sounding like a cranky old-timer, back in my day, news consumption was limited to a daily newspaper or two, and along with the six o'clock news on the television. Hardcore news junkies like myself would augment the standard news offerings by sifting through piles of magazines, or renting an interesting documentary on VHS tape.
In later years we saw the birth of 24 hour cable news outlets on television, which for a news junkie was amazing, but once the internet came into the house in the mid-'90s, we had access to information anytime we wanted it, and only when we wanted it, so there was no longer any need for television news, and in 1996 I cancelled cable once and for all, and I haven't missed it one bit.
So there were clear boundaries in years past as far as when and where news entered your life, but these days, with our phones in our pockets, we can be notified of news and events 24 hours per day, seven days per week, sometimes whether we want it or not.
These days we are surrounded by, or perhaps more accurately we are bombarded with headlines, many inflammatory, some misleading, every waking hour. War, famine, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, extremist views – it's all important to know and be aware of, but a week away won't hurt.
Beginning this weekend, I will once again attempt a week's vacation from regional, national, and international news, so by Sunday I should experience the typical withdrawal symptoms of restlessness and irritability, but by the start of next week, I hope to have worked through the withdrawals by plowing through a lengthy Spring to-do list and I hope to be blissfully unaware of anything happening outside of Meaford's borders.
But I am an addict, remember, so the likelihood of failure is high, and it is quite likely that my drug of choice – news – will entice me back, but I will resist with all my might because I know it isn't good for me. Everything in moderation, they say – wise words, but not to an addict.