Covering the COVID beat

After a while on the COVID beat one night runs into the next. They all start to look the same. You don’t know whether you are coming or going.

You start to get a little paranoid.

Deadlines used to mean something to me. Not any more. Now I can barely hear myself think. Worn down by the life of a grunt beat-writer, chasing a morsel of news that might make a bit of difference to one poor soul out there, if I’m lucky.

I can’t make out the letters on the keyboard. The thoughts in my head are drowned out by the ringing in my ears… from the cigar smoke, and too much brandy. 

Who thought I’d be stuck here in this one horse town, tracking an invisible bug to the far reaches of the earth, into fascist regimes, into powerful laboratories, palaces, and parliaments? All for what? A lousy paycheck and my name on the top of a column that no one reads? 

What can you say? It’s the life of a journalist! I can’t say my parents didn’t warn me.

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.

(Was that them or Oscar Wilde?)

That’s not even to mention, concerning COVID, the outlook for the future is a bunch of crap!

No, literally —  raw sewage surveillance is considered the most exciting prospect for tracking viral activity in the future, as we stop pretending that we can or should forever more run tests on every sniffle and sneeze.

Are we thinking it through?

In all seriousness, I don’t think of myself as a 50s era beat writer nor am I a smoker or a drinker. Most importantly, I think journalists are an important part of an operable democracy because they represent a link to our ability to think.

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

Thomas Jefferson

Is it working?

As the news streams instantaneously on hundreds of channels, even a personalized channel, and the news cycle doesn’t pause for a minute, however, are we better thinkers? It should be clear that the more channels we get and the faster the news spreads, the less we are able to think.

Upon a closer look, our thinking problem stems just as much as anything else from the electric field exposure of modern life.

This view explains why just the presence of a smart phone makes us dumber. We all know the phenomenon of turning to the screen to document an important idea and being unable to articulate it once we get there.

As an aside, we can measure how breathing polluted air makes us dumber. And be careful because even complaining makes us dumber.

Modern life is an assault on our thinking

Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.

Evita Ochel

An electrified puppet?

Sounds pretty disturbing. It’s clear we need to take control of the world encroaching on our thinking.

Here’s my short list:

  1. Know that screen meetings are not a healthy substitute for social interpersonal interaction. They are a massive compromise. Prioritize personal meetings in your life. Metaverse? I’m beyond skeptical, to say the least.
  2. Battle to limit your screen time. Battle it. Delete your social media. I dare you. They don’t just happen to be addictive, they are MADE to be addictive. They make you dumb. Get an app to limit and monitor screen time. Battle with it. 
  3. Get as much time as possible in the natural light during the day. Consider nature to be as important of a vitamin as any you have. Dose it frequently. Put your bare feet in the grass. Limit the use of electric light once the sun goes down. Get blue blocking glasses.
  4. Plan your meditation routine and your physical exercise like your thinking life and your physical well being depended on it… because clearly they do.

Don’t shy from the work of your life. The comfort seeker in you is not your friend. So be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’ll take you places.