It’s The Biggest News Moment in Decades

Covid Diaries Part 4 — March 25th

Every day, it sucks me in. From the minute I wake up until the minute I go to sleep. I look for it like an addict, trying to score more.

Of course, I’m not talking about drugs, alcohol or even pornography. I’m talking about the news.

Coronavirus is the biggest news moment in decades. It’s Ferguson. It’s 9/11. It’s Watergate. Vietnam. Ali vs. Frazier. The Bulls Dynasty. Michael Jackson. Magic getting AIDS. The Civil Rights movement. Hurricane Katrina. The finales of Seinfeld, Mad Men and Game of Thrones. It’s Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift. It’s Paris Hilton’s sex tape (and Kim Kardashian’s too). It’s Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” It’s OJ Simpson in the Bronco. It’s OJ Simpson on trial. It’s the Russians hacking the 2016 election. It’s the 2016 election!

It’s all of that shit, happening at the same time. And it’s nuts.

So there I am, stuck, looking for more information, looking for news. I’m following strange people on Twitter, people who post big giant threads packed with conspiracy theories and statistics, claiming they’re experts.

Before this, I never heard of any of these clowns. And that’s mostly what they are, clowns. Self-promoting sycophants who use tragedy as a means to market themselves. They’re fucking disgusting.

But I’m a sucker, sucking it all in. Give me more, give me more. I go to sleep thinking about this shit, I wake up thinking about it, it’s all that matters right now, there is nothing else.

And yet — it is all pointless. I work in media professionally, therefore I work in the news, but I’d be the first to tell you that, by and large, the news is immaterial.

Because odds are, unless you’re in a public position, you — the average but well-meaning citizen of the world — have no control over the news. What happens in the news has very little effect on your actual life, and how you feel about it means nothing.

Whether it brings you up or brings you down, the news is always the same. It’s bad news, bad news, bad news. I mean, there is good news. But trust me, nobody gives a shit about that. You want a happy ending, put on a Disney movie.

So, what does this mean? Well, I guess you could tune the news out. I could, you could, we all could. Because in reality, the only things you can control are the things that are in front of you. These things, like how you treat your spouse, and what you do in the time you spend with your daughter, how hard you work at your job and so on, they are not in any way impacted by what is happening in global news, or even local news. In your house, there is a mini-society of sorts; what happens there is the important thing.

Outside of this mini-society, there is a crisis. Coronavirus is a crisis. The thing is, it’s now late March. And the virus has been causing problems globally since January. But in the United States, it’s been just a few short weeks that things have gone haywire. And yet, each day, there is news of something else being affected. This morning, I read that the house passed a 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill.

Which begs the question — were businesses that distressed already? They couldn’t miss a few weeks of business? How is it that major corporations did not plan for a rainy day such as this? Are they that cash strapped that they can’t go a month without earning any money? Where are their savings? Where is the fiscal responsibility?

But these are all moot points, because in the end, who fucking cares. The economic fallout was weaponized by democrats and republicans, global business leaders, and — coming soon — the American people, who will use this crisis, brief though it’s been, to get out of every fucking commitment they have, whether it’s taxes or mortgages or even showing up for work.

Now, if this were to linger for months, and it very well may, I could see the stimulus mattering. But why stimulate something that doesn’t exist, that’s the question. If you pump money into an economy that isn’t functional, then what purpose does the money serve. If a business now has money to operate, but there are no customers, the business will just fail again.

And yet again, I come back to my question, what difference does it make, why do I care, what is its effect on me. I care, like anyone else does, because caring makes you a more well-informed citizen, and being well-informed helps you become more educated, and if you are more educated then you make better decisions, you know more — look, it doesn’t hurt.

But, maybe it does. If you are spending all this time thinking about things over which you have no control, then maybe it is best to not think about those things, and maybe it is best to simply let them be what they are, and instead refocus, double down on what is in front of you, what you can control.

If that means nothing, then so be it. But maybe, thinking about it in the abstract, if you focus less on the big picture you will see more of the small one, which in reality is me sitting around all day, reading, looking at news, and just generally being unproductive. I may know more, yes, I may even be more worldly; but what am I doing, exactly, and why — this, I can’t really answer.

And so to this, I say, maybe now I should stop reading the news so much. Just take a break, feel better, do some actual work, then come back to this. In the end, the events will still occur, the news will continue and life will go on.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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