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Ann Cannon: Breathing easier after cable-news fast

Published April 20, 2017 8:39 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Well, Lent is over. Time for me to evaluate how giving up cable news has gone.

First things first. I DID IT! I haven't turned the channel to a cable news station for six weeks. In fact, I've hardly turned on the TV, other than to watch basketball and now baseball.

(Side note: I almost took first place in my husband's March Madness office pool, which would have been awesome, because then I could have given you tips for choosing a winning bracket. Hint: Picking teams based on who has the cutest outfits is always an excellent place to start!)

Anyway. Going cable-news-free has been an enlightening experience. Here's what happened.

The first week was awful, actually. Like anybody going through withdrawal, I was way irritable. I was so irritable, in fact, that I regularly shouted at kids to get off my lawn, even though there were no kids on my lawn.

Also, I was lonely. I realized how often I'd had the TV on before. And because the TV was always on when I was home alone, TV Friends (Anderson Cooper, Chuck Todd, Shep Smith) were always there to keep me company. Even if I didn't like my TV friends very much, at least they were there for me, spouting wide-ranging opinions about everything from Donald Trump to Donald Trump, because that's how cable TV rolls these days. It's all Donald Trump all the time.

(Another side note: Some people believe that Donald Trump was elected because of Fox News. I think CNN, with its relentless, negative coverage, kept the new president — who often looks like he can't believe he was actually elected — squarely in the limelight. Trump was good for ratings. IMHO he should send CNN a handwritten thank-you note and a fruit basket.)

By the second week of my cable-news fast, however, I started to feel a little better, the way you feel better after doing some yoga. Instead of automatically turning on the TV whenever I walked into the room, I listened to music. Or sometimes I just let myself be surrounded by silence. Or as much silence as it's possible to enjoy when you live with three dogs, two cats and a parrot that tells you to brush your teeth whenever you walk through the kitchen.

Here's the thing about silence. It can be an antidote to distraction, so suddenly you find yourself focusing on stuff you should focus on. Like deadlines, for example.

Meanwhile, I READ the news more carefully. Reading the news is great because it has the dual effect of creating some distance while also forcing you to focus in a way you don't have to when you're prancing in and out of a room with a TV set blasting away in the corner.

But here's the big takeaway. I feel calmer these days. Still engaged with current events, yes. Still concerned, yes. But I'm not walking around feeling like I'm on the verge of having a stroke because I keep hearing people say inflammatory, stupid stuff all day long.

How calm am I? If I looked out my window right now and saw kids playing on my lawn, I would totally invite them inside for cookies. I would say, "Hey, kids! Come inside and I will give you cookies. Also, I'll teach you how to almost win a bracket in my husband's office pool when March Madness rolls around again!"

And then those kids would run away in fear because STRANGER DANGER.

But whatever.

The point is I plan to maintain this new status quo, although we all know how easy it is to slip back into old patterns. So we'll see. For now, however, I'm breathing easy.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.






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