If I were to list my top ten stressors in retirement, it would include several issues that I would never have imagined. Right now, four of those top stressors would be Breaking News, Fake News, Robocalls, and Non-Requested Email Ads. Do they sound insignificant? They are not. They can ruin a nice daydream.
I am apolitical. I do not vote along any party lines. Typically, I vote for the best candidates across the board. To gain a balanced perspective, I have been watching CNN for years – until I ran across a Fake News segment that left me bewildered, disappointed, and saddened. What the heck is going on with our world?
Let me explain. About a month ago, after President Trump dropped the ‘Mother of All Bombs’, I caught an early morning TV segment on President Trump. Once again, he was sitting at a table of White House visitors; and once again, a reported shouted one question as the photographers were being escorted out of the room. Despite President Obama’s advice to never answer shouted questions, Trump still offered his answer to the reporter.
The question was very specific. The reporter asked, “How would you compare your use of the military versus Obama’s use of the military?” President Trump, as he often does, gave a disjointed and vague answer, saying, “You can’t compare my 8 weeks with Obama’s 8 years…totally different.” Cryptic, yes. But one thing was certain. That answer was his assessment of his use of the military’s weapons.
Well, that night, I turned on Anderson Cooper to catch up with the news. Anderson Cooper announced to the TV audience that President Trump had been asked today: “How was the world different during the 8 weeks of his presidency from the 8 years of Obama Presidency?” Then they played the clip where President Trump was answering a question on his use of the military, not the condition of the world, but they did not mention that they had purposely inserted their own incorrect question.
Anderson Cooper, who I have always liked, must have known that the President Trump’s answer did not fit their ‘new, revised’ question. Anderson Cooper must have known that they were lying; and he must have known that they were distorting the words of a president. Worse, the four panel members, who all cut President Trump to shreds, must also have known that President Trump’s answer was bogus – not at all connected to their ‘fake’ question.
In short, it was my first experience with unequivocal, indefensible Fake News. It nauseated me that Anderson Cooper could lie so easily and that CNN could distort the truth so easily. And it left me in a terrible bind. I decided to stop watching CNN. If they can be that dishonest in prime time, I did not want to see anything else. At the same time, I did not want to watch Fox News, as it was so biased. The major networks were not much better, as the closer I listened, I realized they had become more negative, less accurate, and more slanted than any time in my life.
So, what was my option? What is your own option? Maybe you are a bit like me. With retirement, I was hoping for security and stability – with a little peace and serenity. Instead, I find myself bombarded by one manufactured Washington DC crisis after another crisis. And the world – let’s be frank – has enough real crises already. So, do we really need more fake (or at least ‘overblown’) crises?
As an attempt to regain my own sanity, I tried turning off the TV. That did not work. My iPhone was constantly bombarded with CNN Reports and Yahoo Reports (almost identical) with many of them later proven to be untrue. For a short time, I tried turning off my cell, but my landline remained constantly ringing with Robocalls. The more I answered these calls (just to say ‘no’), the more they called again and again.
The same predicament was true for my unwanted and unrequested email ads on my computer. The more I unsubscribed, the more ads I received. Right now, today, I counted 64 unwanted, unrequested emails, all delivered to my regular email address. Did I want a Russian bride? Did I need a walk-in-tub? Did I want my credit score checked? No! But how about checking my sanity. I am losing patience with these wasted distractions.
On all sides, I am being deluged with material that I do not want. Do you feel the same? Collectively, these interruptions are like the wake-up alarm that keeps on ringing and ringing. At this point I do not want to wake up to Breaking News, Fake News, Robocalls, or those unwanted emails. I wanted some peace and quiet – and some security and stability.
So, here is my suggestion – for myself and for you. If we can’t turn off these faucets, then we can turn down the volume. Turn off the TV news. Delete the phone’s news headlines. Do not answer your phone unless you know who is calling. And do not unsubscribe to unwanted emails (they just validate your email and sell it to others). So just delete / delete / delete.
Now, does retirement really require withdrawal from the world? No. But all of us can focus more on our personal lives – our family, our friends, our neighbors, our community. Let’s leave the chaos where it belongs – back with the people who started it. Not with us. Disagree? If you have any better suggestions, I am happy to listen. Just not on the evening news. Catch me in my ‘resting’ spot.
Any other suggestions?