Tuning out of the news cycle

From Vox: On opioids, the White House keeps talking and planning — but not doing anything of significance

Yeah, like a crisis that is decades in the making can be fixed in 2 months. Maybe Trump will get to it in 2018. Not exactly sure what that would entail, since undoing deep, long-standing structural and cultural and economic problems won’t have an easy fix.

But between, DACA, ‘bringing jobs to America’, (such as the carrier deal (remember that?)), wall, etc., the Administration seems like a lot of talk and little action. Scott said it best that it’s the Batman Effect…symbolic gestures that get a lot of media coverage and stir the base, but either don’t move the needle much or engender actual policy.

This is part of the reason why, in a sort of nihilistic or ‘black pill’ sense, in 2017 I spent much less time following the news, because progress has been so insufferably slow, but also because the outcome is largely predetermined in a deterministic sense. I read Breitbart maybe twice in 2017; National Review: three times; Wall St. Journal: four or so. I have a Twitter account that follows about 100 or so or alt-right people, but also some centrists too, and in 2016 I checked it a lot leading up to the election, but in 2017, I think, I checked it only four times. It’s cliched to say, but social media rivals smoking in terms of addictiveness. Spent much more time listening to podcasts and YouTube videos. Too much time wasted checking Bitcoin prices (need to break that habit).

If something important happens, given how starved for crisis (whether geopolitical, pertaining to Trump, or economic) the media is, you’ll definitely hear about it; it would be impossible not to if you spend any amount of time online. Take, for example, the Wilfrid Laurier University story; after the recording leaked of teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd being reprimanded for showing a Jordan Peterson video, it was total pandemonium online, and in terms of importance it wan’t even that big of a story relative to, say, Trump launching airstrikes against Syria, yet it still got a huge amount of coverage, even more impressive given that the university is in Canada and many Americans had probably never heard of Wilfrid Laurier University until then (I didn’t), and the story a month later is still going strong (at least on YouTube and blogs). But tuning-out may mean being misinformed about certain issues, but I think that is a small price to pay to have more time to do things I find most important to me, than indulging the latest outrage story.

The persistent quiescence of the news cycle, punctuated by the occasional media-generated crisis, has given me a sort of newfound respect for talk radio hosts, who are contractually required to fill airtime. A typical terrestrial talk radio show is 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year of airtime that needs to be filled. If commercials, traffic, and weather are excluded, that is still around 120 minutes/day of airtime that the host must fill, no matter what. It’s not like Rush Limbaugh can say, “there’s nothing going on today, so I’m signing off early.” Nope; even if there nothing going on, he has to fill those 120 or so minutes. Callers and guests help fill the airtime, but he has to be on the ball at all times. It’s not like he can respond to a question with “I don’t know,” especially if the answer already exists and such ignorance is interpreted as laziness or indifference. It’s harder than it seems. Even popular podcasters don’t have the endurance of a typical talk radio host in terms of consistent content generation.