The Partner feels about cable news the same way he feels about reality television and speed limits. They exist because people are not willing--or in some cases, able--to think for themselves. Also, they have bad taste.
I used to have a compulsive cable news habit. At work, I could be found at any given time on either the CNN.com, Foxnews.com or MSNBC.com exit of the Information Superhighway. At home, the themed breaking-news beat of the second Iraq war was a soundtrack to life in the small beige and white apartment (with pink bathroom) where I resided as a recent college graduate.
The Partner married me despite this character flaw and was heartened to see that the birth of our first child brought to an abrupt end my interest in the world around me. I could no longer endure stories about death, terror and/or global warming. I retreated under the rock of new parenthood to the place where many others in similar circumstances navigated dark, labyrinthine passages that reverberated with infant cries and reeked of shit.
This weekend, the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan brought me out from under the rock. My two children--not babies anymore--crawled with me, their eyes unaccustomed to the glare. The Boss's ears perked up and her eyebrows raised at radio reports. Number Two ran in circles around the coffee table as he screamed about trucks and trains.
I went down to the garage at one point to update The Partner on the apparent meltdown occurring in one (or two, or three, or four) of the reactors at the Fukushima plant in northeastern Japan.
"I know," he said. "I got that from reading one article. I didn't need to sit in front of the TV all night listening to the same facts over and over. Not to mention a bunch of talking heads who have no idea what's going on."
I look at it differently. In this day and age, I acknowledge the need to search through a lot of bullshit--on television, Web sites, social networking venues an even local telephone trees--to unshelf a nugget of truth. Diverse perspectives can enhance a story as much as they can muddle it. You have to be a media savvy consumer; you can't just buy everything. The difference between me and The Partner is that I enjoy a shopping spree while he'd rather grab the staples and exit through the self checkout.
I've been without news, relatively speaking, for almost six years now. Maybe this zeal I'm exhibiting comes from repression. Maybe in a few months I'll start to agree with The Partner that it's just too much--the expert commentary, the videos, the Tweeting, and the Facebook updates. Or maybe I'll start to tune out his declarations about right and wrong in favor of coming to my own conclusions.