Aspen Untucked: When it’s time to shut the media off
I’m probably with most of the country this week in saying that I am exhausted.
I’m tired of turning on the television to “Breaking News” captions or looking at my phone after only a few minutes have passed and seeing a slew of new headlines.
Even the late-night shows, which are typically my refuge in this news-filled world, have become too much to handle after last week’s barrage of stories about a certain Supreme Court nominee.
This column is not about him, or any of the related stories around his nomination and sexual-assault allegations. It’s not even about the beer comments he made, because those have likely already been used for millions of memes on social media. This column comes from someone who is burnt out. Not just because of the story that took over nearly every form of media we consumed last week, but because, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t shut it off. I couldn’t look away.
I realize the irony in the fact that I’m writing this and printing it in a newspaper. This counts as the media that I’m so tired of consuming. I don’t want to add to the hurricane of media we’ve all most likely bared witness to recently. I want to remind us all, including myself, that it may be time to take a break. To shut down the electronics for a minute. The news will still be there when we get back.
Last week at work, I heard a rather alarming fact: We, as in U.S. adults, consume 11 hours of media daily. “Consuming media” includes watching TV, listening to radio and podcasts, visiting apps on our phones or tablets, and using the internet and game consoles. This number is from The Nielsen Total Audience Report for the first quarter of 2018. Eleven hours — that’s nearly two-thirds of our waking time. Personally, I think my media consumption may be over that, simply because I work in the media. Hell, I’m part of the problem. I’m drowned in tweets, Facebook posts, headlines and alerts all day, everyday.
Even as I type this, TV news is on in the background, I’ve looked at my phone several times to see if anything important has popped up on the screen, and there’s a magazine half open on the couch next to me. This stuff is addicting, and it’s constantly trying to get our attention.
At times like this, when it seems impossible to escape it all, we need to remember to fit in the activities in our lives that involve no screens. From hikes and biking, to yoga and meditation, there are many things we can do to help us take a break, shut everything off, and go to our happy place.
So, in the spirit of shutting it all off for a moment, I’ll leave it at that and end this column right here.
Barbara Platts hopes you get some time away from it all this weekend. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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