Last night, I turned off my TV. Well, not exactly. Actually, I turned off cable news and broadcast news and local news and watched a movie on Netflix. It's not that I didn't want to know any more about Sandy Hook, or grieve with the parents at the universally televised funerals and memorial services.
It's just that this has been going into my eyes and ears nearly non-stop since Friday and I'm starting to feel like one of the victims -- even though I'm safe and sound, 800 or so miles away.
I'm a news junkie. I admit it. I never watch daytime talk shows or soap operas or whatever it is they fill the hours with during the day. I keep cable news on my TV pretty much from the time I get up in the morning until I leave for work (I work nights).
When I get sick of CNNs incompetence, I switch over to MSNBC, until I've had enough of their cluelessness, and I switch back to CNN. You'd think I'd turn it all off, considering my contempt for their ability to report the news. But I don't. I'm addicted to having information flowing over me at all times.
This was only the second time EVER a news story has become so soul-crushing that I had to shut down the stream of information. The first time was 9-11.
This is one of the big things that's wrong with the 24-hour news cycle. We've become addicted to knowing what's going on, everywhere, at every moment.
I'm not sitting in a chair with my eyes glued to CNN all day. Far from it. But the TV is on, and if a string of words comes to me that piques my interest, I stop what I'm doing and watch.
Nothing would go wrong with my life if I had to wait until the 6 o'clock news or the 11 p.m. news, or until the next newspaper is delivered to find out what happened somewhere that is not here.
After four days of wall-to-wall Sandy Hook, I'm still angry that this could happen. I still feel grief for the 20 children and six adults lost. But I just can't keep hearing it over and over and over.
There is light in the world. There is love. There is kindness. There is laughter.
Sandy Hook is expanding to fill the horizon. It is blotting out the sun.
But not really. Only on TV.
I don't think I would feel less outraged, less grieved, less sorrowful if I was only hearing about it a couple of times per day. Once is enough to evoke all those feelings.
But if it wasn't washing over us 24/7, we might be able to put it in better perspective.
There is no gunman outside the door of every elementary school in America. There was one gunman in Sandy Hook. The children of America are as safe today as they were last Thursday, before this happened. That safety is not perfect. We can do better. We can raise the dual questions of better access to mental health care and less access to deadly weapons, and if we can inspire action on these issues, we can make the children of America safer.
But today, December 18, 2012, Christmas is just seven days away. You know, Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men. Families will gather. Presents will be opened. You'll get in a stupid argument with your father-in-law or cousin. There will be eggnog, and fruitcake and cookies. Christmas carols will be sung.
You know what? I'm not even a Christian. But I do understand the need to light a fire and warm our spirits at the darkest, coldest time of the year. So, Christian or not, I participate in the festival.
Sandy Hook happened. It was horrible. We're not going to stop feeling that horror for a long time, if ever.
But I've got to put it in perspective now. There has not been a December in the past decade when we needed to feel the warmth and love of family and friends more than we do this year.
So, I think I'm going to keep the TV off the news stations for a few more days.
And my answer to my poll below: