I have been called a lot of things in my life. Nowadays its stuff like Sir or Mister which make me feel a bit ye olde’ but in the past it was more in the vain of loser, dork, geek, trouble, pain in the ass… Just because they were somewhat accurate monikers does not mean I like them. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I have always thought of myself as more complex on the inside in a what you see is not always what you get sort of way, so I have always been careful of what terms I use to describe myself.
Like I have always thought of myself as ‘aware of current affairs’ versus being a ‘news junkie’. It just sounds better but it’s tricky. Like we’re all ok with the guy who quickly starts a grill or builds an amazing campfire being called ‘The Fire-starter’ but we stay away from the twitchy weird eyed fellow down the street who we say is ‘obsessed with fire’.
Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with being a ‘news junkie’; of all the different types of junkies to be, it is definitely one of the least dangerous. Alright, maybe I am a little bit news junkie-ish but I’m not the twitchy weird eyed obsessed guy version. I mean, yes, I read the newspaper every single day… an actual newspaper… the one a human delivers to your door… printed words… in ink… on paper. Stop laughing. Your making me feel ye olde’ again… and yes, they still make those. Hey… many people treasure antiques and think they are beloved. You can consider me a beloved antiquey junkie-ish non-twitchy type person.
It was not that long ago that I could walk into a coffee shop and see dozens of folks with a newspaper spread out in front of them and the recycle bin by the door crammed full with plenty more. These days I look like an out-of-date dinosaur when I open my paper next to everyone with eyes glued to their lap tops, tablets, connected watches and smarty-ass phones. Nowadays reading a real newspaper gets you the same looks as if I busted out an abacus to figure out how many dimes I needed for a person-to-person call on a rotary pay-phone.
I should state for the record I simply like the paper and that I have no technology phobia. I’m not the societal drop-out wearing homemade hemp clothes using a scythe to trim the grass next my no pesticide organic GMO-free garden yelling loudly into a corded phone because I’m all afraid of using anything Bluetooth in fear the radar waves might mangle my mental molecules. I get that the world might be a happier healthier less stressful place if more folks lived that way but that is definitely not me. No, I’m crazy ON the grid getting the shakes and withdrawal symptoms when I forget my phone at home or if my computer is spazzing for a few minutes while I’m waiting for the latest Windows update to hurry up and configure. You should have seen me stomp around the house this week when my DSL was down for a few days.
That said, I like the feel and tactile texture of the newspaper in my hands as well as the convenience, portability and lack of worry. Read it in the living room, at the table, by the pool, during a plane take-off, in the bathtub, on a subway in a tunnel, on the toilet, in the waiting room… Besides, every time I open a paper I am somehow still connected to my childhood transported back decades. Lil Dan lying on the floor in my warm cotton knock-off discount superhero pajamas reading The Long Island Press’ Sunday funnies while the adults skimmed the real news. The comics are still my favorite part but I save them till the end to lighten things after I read the usually depressing news. So it’s the old fashioned newspapers for me where I can pick and choose which story to read and take the time to make my own interpretation of the information delivered
But after decades of daily newspaper reading, I’ve been considering giving up my subscription. No, it’s not because barely anyone reads them anymore driving the price up to a ridiculously astronomical level for a thinner less in-depth product. No, it’s not because I’m the only one in the neighborhood with a subscription that is too young for the AARP Senior Citizen 4:30 early-bird Luby’s cafeteria dinner discount. No it’s not because of the oddball juxtaposition of being the only one with a newspaper under my arm while paying for an overpriced cup ‘o’ simple black joe with my Starbucks smartphone app.
I am thinking of quitting the paper because over the past few months I have noticed that it is having an odd effect on me. In general I am an optimist. I usually wake up in a good mood. But lately my itty bitty circle of friends and family in the teeny tiny miniscule segment of the vast expansive universe that I call my own world, has been tested a bit with some harsh real life realities. Several stressful serious life changes have been tossed at me; moves, job changes, sicknesses, deaths…. My rose colored glasses might need to be refitted with stronger lenses. It’s not been fun and there is plenty more down the pike repeatedly playing in my brain’s coming attractions reel. I got enough on my plate in my little insular world. I don’t need to juggle the woes of the rest of the universe too
My diminished attention should not affect the brutal spread of ISIS, the European refugee crisis, Filipino extrajudicial killing, the Chicago murder rate, the Cuban government, pipeline protests, political extremism, racial profiling, presidential recounts, bigotry, the price of avocados, tsunamis, tornadoes, wild fires, global warming, the housing market, Swiss frozen assets, the DNC, GOP, GDP, OPP or M-O-U-S-E.
My wife asked me the other day out of the blue if I wanted to cancel the daily delivery and I almost said yes. Is it the news junkie in me that said no? Is it the comfort of the past? Is it just out of habit? But then yesterday I flipped open the paper to a fluff piece article about a kitten shelter in Manhattan and it made me smile. Smiling is good. It’s not all doom and gloom out there. Maybe its not yet quite the time to stick my head in the sand.