Hitting a Nerve

Good news is no news


I’ve become kind of a hermit. At least, as much as someone who drives a car, goes to the store, and sees patients 5 days a week can be.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

It seemed like the news was always dominated by another senseless mass shooting, an increasingly dysfunctional government, an environmental crisis going to hell (with us along for the ride), and endlessly escalating inflammatory political pundits (who always seem to get far more coverage than they deserve. Personally, I don’t think they deserve any, regardless of which side they’re on).

As things got worse, I became more obsessed with reading about them. I’d read the news on my iPad before bed, and when I first woke up, and several times a day at work.

It was driving me nuts. Perhaps it’s my personality to worry too much about these things. I was losing sleep and wasting valuable time at home and work.

I came to a decision. It was time to stop.

I deleted all my news apps and bookmarks. I’d go to lengths to avoid all news. If in a restaurant where a TV was on, I’d sit with my back to it. I stopped going to the doctor’s lounge (with its TVs constantly on a news network). When I had to wait to pick up my car at the shop, I sat outside and played games on my phone rather than use the waiting room with its blaring TV.

I just walked away from the 24/7 news cycle. And you know what? I’m happier now.

This doesn’t mean I’m completely unplugged. I still read interesting stories about science or history. I check the weather forecast. Family members occasionally send me amusing articles that I look at. I read online medical articles. I use the Internet to look things up. But I make a conscious effort not to look at headlines or other stuff on the periphery.

I’m not stupid or naive enough to believe that the insanity and acrimony won’t continue happening. But the bottom line is that obviously I can’t control or change it.

So I try not to let it upset me any more. If the only way to do that is to completely not read it and not know, I’m fine with that. After almost 50 years of reading news (I started when I was about 7, with my parent’s subscription to Newsweek), I’ve completely stopped.

Instead of reading the day’s events I now mindlessly play Toon Blast or read history books on my iPad before bed. Perhaps a waste of time, but no more so than getting upset, losing sleep, getting ulcers, and going gray over things I can’t control.

I have more time in the morning and my work day, since I’m not spending it scanning headlines.

Now my world is restricted to my family, friends, dogs, and job. Things I enjoy and have control over. Those around me have been told that I wish to discuss nothing about current events, and they respect that.

Now I sleep better, worry less (at least about those things), and have more time to focus on my immediate world. And that’s fine with me. It may be the way of the ostrich, but at this point in my life, that’s what I prefer.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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