Letter From the Betty Ford Clinic of News

There’s a line in one of those post-Caddyshack Rodney Dangerfield movies…”Back to School” or something, where Rodney has to quit drinking for some reason. After a short while of sobriety, he asks out loud, “What do you do when you not getting bombed?”

As a ‘Net news junkie, I enter day three of my Moratorium with the same sort of question. For instance, what do you do when you’re not surfing the local/metro section of the online Seattle Times when you haven’t lived in Seattle for 13 years? How am I supposed to stay mentally sharp without constant updates from Wonkette? How can I have a decent conversation with anyone unless I spend 15 minutes at Metafilter and 30 minutes playing some addictive Java game linked from Metafilter?

Like, what am I supposed to do, read a book or something?

Impulse control has never been one of my strong points, and I already find myself lovingly caressing the mouse button when I scroll over saved URLs like NYTimes and Washington Post. But I have yet to click. Whoo-hoo! Good for me! At the same time, I find it so easy to reach for these informational equivalents of a cigarette, and a bit disappointing when I move on by without inhaling that rich, flavor-filled newsiness.

This morning I had a scare, having set the alarm and awaking to “All Things Considered”. Fortunately, the report was about a snowstorm and I was able to flick the alarm off before any real news reportage sprung forth. I must switch my alarm radio from KUNM to another station, one without any news. I know, maybe I should switch it to 770 KOB. (insert laugh track here) .

One might wonder why I would pursue a news-free environment. Additionally, one might presume that I am undertaking this experiment in order to have something to whine and complain about. And they would perhaps be right. Still, I can’t help but think there is a beneficial point or two to getting away from the sturm und drang of news, avoiding the soap opera of stories like Mt. Hood hikers, Obama, Iraq, etc. ad infinitum and just freeing up a small sliver of my small mind to observe what might be trapped in there, wedged into an even smaller corner by my easy access to news via the ‘Net.

Or something like that. Hey, there’s some dusty books over there! I remember books! Vaguely…


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