Last week, as the holiday loomed and the news was pretty much all bad, I left the office in Santa Rosa for a homefront vacation notable for its descent into an immediate no-media sloth. I had one agenda, and a seemingly counterintuitive one for a news-gathering professional: in a desperate act of self-care, I resolved to commit to a total news-media blackout for five days.
Friends, that is harder to do than it sounds. But I stuck to it, and over the Christmas break did not tune in to CNN or Fox or MSNBC, or scan the New York Times or the Guardian. There was no Washington Post to toast, no Rachel to revel in, no Politico, Salon, Slate, New Republic, Nation, or L.A. Times. There was no Vox, no Vice, and no Vogue, either. I said no to the New Yorker, the Atlantic and the National Review, and blew off PBS too.
I also pledged to avoid Breitbart (not so hard) and would derail any hostile sneers I might be inclined to send in the direction of Drudge. For the sake of purity (and to indulge my obsessiveness to its nth degree), I refrained from checking out the local Press Democrat. Hell, I didn't even pick up the latest issue of this paper, or spend more than two minutes screwing around on Facebook over the break.
Total media blackout means just that, and I'd recommend it to anyone feeling that familiar sense of dread whenever the subject of President You-Know-Who comes up. There's nothing like letting go of it all and taking a long walk in the woods instead.
I just looked at the calendar, and Lent is still six weeks away. But I'm in the mood for giving stuff up now. After five gloriously media-free days, I feel fresh and clean and un-befouled of the sinful vapors that have stunk up the American-discourse joint over the past couple of fake-news years. I've returned from the desert.
If I could continue my no-media fast, I would. But duty calls as the haranguing, taunting headlines are coming hard and fast again. The afflicted are in need of comfort, and the comforted are in need of a can of California whup-ass. That's where we come in. And so I'm breaking my media fast in the new year with a spin through the latest issue of Mad—the paper of record for our times, and perhaps the most trusted source for news this side of the Bohemian.
Tom Gogola is news editor for the 'Bohemian.'
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