Over the past couple of days I have deleted the “news” app from my phone and unsubscribed to anything “news-like” that I was getting via email. I’ve deleted the “news” section from my YouTube feed as well. I’m not looking at Facebook or Twitter, although I will keep posting links to new articles and videos there. I am taking a public vow right here on this blog not to search for information about the pandemic. I am hoping I will be able to keep that vow.
The reason I’m doing this is because I have noticed that the essential information about the pandemic has remained the same for at least a month. Wash your hands, stay six feet from each other, wear a mask… etc. If anything new happens, such as the mayor or governor making changes to what people can do, I am confident that this information will reach me. It always has so far. When there’s a treatment or vaccine or whatever, I am confident I’ll hear about it without looking for it.
The questions I’ve been searching for answers to are things like; When will this end? Is there a treatment or vaccine available? How will this affect me and the people around me? The Internet and the news do not have answers to these questions, nor do random Facebook users, Twitter tweeters, YouTubers and the like. When those answers are available, I am confident that they will reach me without my having to make any specific effort to get them.
When I’ve stayed at Tassajara or gone on retreat at Mount Baldy, there is no access to the Internet and you can’t get a cell phone signal. There are no televisions, radios, or newspapers. Well… sometimes you get last week’s Sunday newspaper at Tassajara, or a magazine from a few months ago. But there’s no access at those places to current events or up-to-the-minute updates.
And yet, whenever something big has happened when I’ve been at those places, I’ve always heard about it. I was in Tassajara when Robin Williams died and I heard about it the following day. I even heard about the death of Jani Lane of Warrant because someone there knew that a friend of mine is the drummer for that band. For that matter, I heard about the death of Michael Jackson when I was walking around a Trader Joe’s supermarket. I didn’t need to see it on the news.
There is nothing in those updates that I am constantly offered that is of any value. There is nothing there I need to know. There is only constant repetition of information I am already well aware of. It’s not necessary, or helpful, or useful. The talking heads on the TV and the Internet do not know the future any better than I do, nor do the politicians.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I never did. No one ever did. In that sense, nothing has changed.
But what I do know is that I have important work to do, and my own bad habit of wasting time looking at trashy and poisonous entertainment disguised as “news” is getting in the way of that work.
Rather than wasting my precious and limited time on this Earth with worthless distractions, I’m dedicating myself to practice and to study. I’m dedicating myself to doing the serious work that I’ve been given to do.
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