I Don't Read The News Anymore, And It's Great

The only thing I know is how happy I am.

Image: Peter

After Donald Trump won the presidency more than a year ago, I, like many of my friends, vowed to cease paying attention to news for a while, fearing that the steady stream of depressing stories would be too much to bear. I figured my informational hiatus would last a week, maybe two. But I soon found that life without The New York Times, Twitter, or (perish the thought) cable news was undeniably brighter than it had been before. So I made a drastic but necessary decision: I’d stick with my news-blackout regimen indefinitely. After setting some ground rules with friends — no discussing creeping authoritarianism at dinner!! Let’s just talk about what shows we’re catching up on! — it became surprisingly easy to navigate life without the dismal drumbeat of current events in the background. Soon enough, following the news at all seemed just as emotionally wasteful as those hours I’d spent marveling at Nate Silver’s smugness last fall. And my newfound focus on laughing, loving, and utter ignorance has made 2017 one of the best years of my life.

Every day since the election, I’ve begun my mornings with a little light meditation (trite but effective mantra: “ignorance is bliss”) before opening my internet browser to Google.com — their doodles tend to make me laugh and think. Then I head over to ESPN, eBay, the John Wick message boards — all the sites I used to frequent, minus the ones that might stab me in the brain with reality. To guard against anything penetrating the cracks of my tightly sealed delusion fort, I installed a filter that removes phrases like ”Nazis,” “norms,” “democracy,” “nuclear,” “press crackdown,” “it happened here,” “Chris Hayes beaten to death on live television” and several others, just to be on the safe side. When I get home from work, I usually watch a few “Law and Orders” from the mid-’90s followed by Jimmy Fallon, whose unshakeable aversion to substance is perfect for the new me. The other night, he did a delightful hip-hop version of “Sweet Home Alabama” with Ted Nugent and a totally game Mike Pence, and… Well, you should just YouTube it.

One of the highlights of the year was my trip to Berlin, where many of my more politically active friends have relocated in the last few months. (It’s so much more affordable than New York, and so centrally located!) Some people, like my friend Rebecca, took off in such a hurry that I didn’t even know they were gone until I received encrypted texts from them, invariably with messages like “I made it. I’m safe.” When I arrived for my visit, she and my other friends seemed a bit morose at first, but after we all ingested some pure MDMA, they were happy to avoid talking politics and reminisce about what they called the “before-times.” There was one awkward moment when I walked in on Rebecca watching a livestream of something on her laptop, weeping and repeating the words “I can’t believe this is happening in my country” over and over. I wiggled out of that one by responding, “And I can’t believe how cheap these doner kebabs are! I love this town!” I stayed in a hostel for the rest of my trip, but they’re more like regular hotels in Berlin, so it worked out pretty well.

I started seeing a great girl named Alice in the spring, and conveniently enough, she has a fetish for people who don’t read the news. She says my complete lack of knowledge of what’s happening in the world turns her on, and who am I to deprive her of such pleasures? I admit it took a while to get used to her chanting “You know nothing! You know nothing!” at me in bed, but the initial discomfort was a small price to pay for a zesty sex life. When she introduces me to her friends, she often says, “He has no idea how bad things have gotten,” and I can’t tell if it’s a joke or not, but I play along.

Work has been pretty much the same. As far as I can tell, outside events have barely made a ripple in the world of high-risk mortgage trading.

Let’s see, what else? I’m so glad I got to see Hamilton before it abruptly closed as a result of what a smiling cop outside the theater informed me were “massive fire code violations.” Adored the show, but how could they overlook something as basic as customer safety? Oh well. The show that’s replacing it, “Trump Has A Huge Cock: An American Musical” looks pretty bland, but maybe it’ll surprise me.

There were some downsides to 2017. I don’t have health insurance anymore, though it’s hard to really call that a “loss” when I haven’t gotten sick once. (Not counting the persistent numbness on the left side of my body, which I will get checked out as soon as I hit my GoFundMe target.)

Since the last paragraph, Alice and I have relocated to the 7th Ave. subway station, for what she mischievously says is a “temporary re-location event.” Perhaps it’s connected to the assault rifle-bearing soldiers I’ve begun to spot frequently around the neighborhood, whom Alice has assured me are merely enthusiastic LARPers. Or maybe it has something to do with the blood-red pamphlets that keep floating down from the sky, warning all residents to “LEAVE NOW” in an unholy jumble of English and Mandarin. (Alice’s explanation: viral marketing for the new James Bond movie.) In any case, I’m getting a lot of adult coloring done down here, and a hiatus from all those damn screens isn’t the worst thing.

Subway-station living would be even better if it weren’t for all the people, many of whom insist on yakking on about world events, in direct violation of my policy. This has made for some uncomfortable encounters. Just today, I was in high spirits after a particularly gratifying round of coloring when a gaunt, toothless man tried to engage Alice and me in conversation. “You know, ever since Trump launched…” he began. I cut him off right there, as I have so many times before. “No news,” I said firmly. “I’m just not interested.” He grimaced and looked away, but I kept on grinning. Not knowing is the best.

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