I Went On A "News Diet" And Am In Better Mental Shape Than Ever
Hi, I’m Danielle and I’m addicted to news. There is not a day that goes by when I don't read several blogs, articles etc. and watch at least 3+ hours of headlines.
But for the last few days I decided to try a new wellness plan -- I went on a news-free diet. I refrained from ingesting any of the political vitriol that has taken over the 24-hour news cycle.
This has been one of my most difficult diets to date. Why? I am one of those people that live in Washington, DC -- or Poliwood, as I lovingly refer to my non-state of residence -- and like the fictitious Olivia Pope, I literally get off on news.
In high school, my AP Government and Politics class was the only one I didn’t cut (well, that much) senior year. Learning about what made our system of government tick was not only inspiring but also stirred something in me that until that class had been dormant—the appetite to change the world.
It was this desire to be a part of something extraordinary not to mention youthful naiveté that had me pack my bags and move to Washington, D.C. In my mind there was only one place people head when they want to change the world-- the epicenter of political power.
Until recently, regardless of political party, the "change the world" mentality seemed to be the running theme you heard when meeting transplants to Washington. There was something exciting about being around like-minded people who wanted to put their voice and intellect to work for the "people." Even though I have fantasized about moving to New York for years--most likely do to my "Sex and the City" hangover -- I've come to realize that Poliwood is where I belong.
After more than a decade working in the political and policy arena, the city had finally started to grow on me. Where else can you enjoy cocktails out with friends and all the TV's in the bar are either on CNN or MSNBC? Or while out dining, ask the server to change the channel so you can watch your wife in a political sparring match and they do so with glee? Say what you will, but there is no other city more jam-packed with smarts and style than Washington.
But, where there was once a bubble of energy and excitement to do the "people's work," a dark cloud now lingers.
There is not a station you can turn to or a paper you can read since the 2008 Presidential election that isn't spewing some type of negativity about government and the downfall of Washington.
But the city isn't the problem, it's the new breed of politician. At the heart of the most recent American political power struggle is the desire for self-preservation above all else. Dedication to changing the world for the better has gone the way of the flip phone and in its place is an unrelenting race to the bottom.
Watching a political debate these days is no different than tuning into the Real Housewives. There's tons of name-calling, no class and little display of intellect or a basic understanding of the facts--throw in a little wig pull and you wouldn't be able to tell the two apart.
This new form of conservative celebritics is absent a moral compass and where calculated debate once reigned supreme, schoolyard antics have taken hold.
Who wants to watch three plus hours of a playground brawl? Not me.
My diet worked the way a good cleanse is supposed to. It gave me a level of lucidity I didn't have before. I finally understood the point of all of the malevolence. The goal is to make people so frustrated that they throw up their hands and disengage because when the people walk away corporations and special interests get to have their way.
I may have turned off the news for a little reprieve but I didn't tune out. What got me excited over a decade ago was the knowledge that a small group of committed people can indeed make a difference. A little news diet every once in a while is a good thing. It helps those of us who came to Washington to do good remain in fighting shape.