Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad News and Good News

For years now I've been avoiding the real news. I am very up to date on who is doing what in Hollywood, but ask me about what they're exactly fighting over in Syria and I'd mutter something about the Arab Spring and then I'd be out. I'm not proud of this, but I feel like the news is so depressingly bad and there is nothing that I can do to alter the outcome of any of the many problems facing the world that I'd just rather totally stick my head in the sand like an ostrich.

Over the last few days I've made the mistake of listening to the news on the radio while making dinner and driving to soccer practice, which just reinforced the validity of my self-imposed media blackout. After hearing news of the sequester, rising global temperature making living in Atlanta impossible in 100 years, and the European fiscal crisis, I'm ready to advocate for putting anti-depressants in our water supply. Apparently, though, lithium water is already a thing and it's giving fish autism
On top of listening to the radio, I made the mistake of reading this week's "Time Magazine" cover story on how our health care system works great...if you never, ever, ever get sick. To be fair, the actual care patients receive is actually pretty good. The problem is crazy amount by which hospitals mark up the cost of medications and services. One patient was charged $108 for some Bacitracin ointment, another was charged $1.50 for one 325-mg Acetaminophen tablet when you can buy 100 tablets for $1.49 on Amazon. Excuse me while I take some vitamins and move into my bubble.

I wonder how John Travolta managed to blow-dry his hair in the bubble.
Then I decided to screw the real news and read this looong article on Gawker about internet trolls who wrote incredibly hateful things about a little girl with Progeria who dances to Vanilla Ice on youtube. Because you know you rule the world when you pick on children with terminal illnesses on the Internet. Congrats, you have arrived! Then, because I realized that trolls fancy themselves to be doing something more strategic than just plain old bullying, I went and researched trolling. You can read the definition yourself, but the first line is, "The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue." While some art might result in pissing someone off, I do not think that "pissing people off" is in and of itself art. Granted, I don't really get performance art, but I am pretty sure that legitimate performance art typically does not involve personal attacks on unknowing participants. I have a great performance art idea where all the Internet trolls are rounded up and put to work on ways to stop global warming. Maybe that's not as much performance art as it is killing two birds with one stone.

Even all my silly entertainment people were letting me down this week. First there was the Onion's tweet about Quvenzhane Wallis, who has a name that spellcheck can't understand, but is a nine-year-old up for an Academy Award, so lay off. Then there were all the reporters interviewing Jennifer Lawrence after she won the Best Actress Oscar who either asked pointless questions or insulted her:

And while most people thought her reaction was great, some criticized Jennifer for not being properly deferential and respectful of the Academy Awards because she was flippant and silly in the press conference. Oh, for the love of Pete! What about the reporter who wanted to know whether she was worried that she had "peaked" to soon with an Oscar win so young? Why not criticize that reporter for taking Jennifer's happy moment to suggest that she is washed-up at 22? I'm glad that her reaction was to be flippant and silly and not to suffer a spontaneous existential crisis on stage.

Jennifer Lawrence is being flippant.
Since I'd been betrayed by the modern media, I actually read a magazine. We get the "New Yorker" and I read Joan Acocella's book review of "Missing Out," by Adam Phillips, a British psychoanalytic writer. According to Acocella, Phillips writes that "kindness has gone out of fashion, that it's now considered 'a virtue of losers.' In his opinion, it should be rehabilitated." I agree! I have no idea whether I agree with anything else he's written, but I agree with that statement. Also, I think this is the basic mantra of another famous philosopher of our times:

So, at the risk of being unfashionable and a loser, I'm looking for some hope and happiness and kindness to offset all the bad news and meanness. I'm not talking about funny things, I'm talking about stories that give a glimmer of hope that human kind isn't completely screwed. I really don't want to completely insulate myself from reality, but I'd like a place to find uplifting stories about high school basketball for when I've had a shitty day. Good News Network is a good place to start. It's just a source for all those feel-good human interest stories that you see posted on Facebook. Try to look past the irony of having to buy a subscription for all but the top ten stories. For free, here's a story that's probably a little too edgy for GNN (it involves some guys in a fraternity at Emerson College who raised money on Indiegogo to help one of their brothers get gender reassignment surgery). This one made me happy that there were people other than trolls on the Internet.

I think all this positivity is working. Look at this nice thing that Ryan Gosling said, just to me:

 Aw, thanks Ryan. I loved the way you and Kate Upton explained the sequester. It makes me feel a smidgen better about millions of people losing their jobs and the government not being able to agree on anything. That's really how all the bad news stories should be delivered, in comic form accompanied by pictures of pretty people, interspersed with pictures of kittens doing cute things.

Now I feel better. 


  1. Have you heard about this?

    1. That's a really cool idea. I'm not sure I get how it all works, but I'm all in favor of more happy people. Maybe they can get people at the postoffice and the DMV to use the app.