photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Looking for Shiny and New- Boring Old News Need Not Apply

I love turning my computer on in the morning.

The first thing that happens is it makes little chirpy happybird noises. Then the weather comes on screen, followed by the Yahoo start page and the day's top headlines.

You've seen this- on the right is a box with the top 10 things people are typing into their search engines for more information on. For weeks "BP" or "oil spill" or "gulf of mexico" were right in the top 5. Then as the whole deal dragged on and on and on it became very apparent that we as a nation have collective ADD- we can't stay focused on anything for too long if it stays the same- even if it's horrible like non-stop hemorrhaging of oil into the waters of the Gulf.

Because here's the thing.

It hasn't changed. It's still the same (awful)footage of gushing brown/black yack spewing up from the bottom of the dimly-lit ocean floor. Every day makes it more awful, more disastrous, yet because nothing has happened to make it EXCITING for us again, we've become bored and turned away.

'Round about Memorial Day "oil spill" was sandwiched between "gas grills" and "family activities".

Now it's not there at all. It's dropped right off the radar of things most googled and been replaced (as of July 3rd) with (in order, no less)-
Elin Nordegren
Lindsay Lohan
Hugh Laurie
Victoria Beckham
Gas Grills
Carrie Prejean
Designer Sunglasses
Steve Jobs
Family Activities

Apparently what we need is something to remind us it's still there- not enough to, yanno, hurt anyone, but enough to regain our tiny shallow attention spans.

Like a giant fissure opening up from the fractured ocean floor and hoards of glow in the dark purple fanged eels spewing forth, or the tar balls washing up onto the beaches melding together into the spitting images of various saints- SOMETHING that would catch our fancy, tickle our interest get us back to making this front and center again, where it sort of belongs.

On accounta it's gonna affect all of us everywhere for a very long long time.

But we live in a Sound Byte Society and the media knows just how much we can absorb at one time and plays the news accordingly. Because if we get too depressed, too outraged, too despondent, we might, just maybe, turn the news off altogether. And that would make the advertisers very sad.

As an example- the top stories for easy viewing and digestion today are as follows-

"Retail Chains on the Ropes"- a sobering view of the top 10 large stores, some of them like RiteAid or Zales, household brands, that are floundering, perhaps fatally. The economy is so bad that not only the luxury items as sold by Zales, but our daily needs items as sold at the corner drug store, aren't enough to keep these bastions of consumerism afloat.

That's bad.

Next is "Millions of Jobs Lost Forever". *Wow*. What a sobering bummer THAT is. Reminding us that the recent recession(s) have eliminated alot of jobs from the days when Life was Good and everyone deserved not just a chicken in every pot, but a brand new house to cook it in and a brand new SUV to haul it home from the store with.

That's REALLY bad. Wait. Gimme a minute...

The third top story is "Schwarzenegger Slashes Pay", a happy little ditty of government budgets actually making headway at becoming not only less wasteful, but possibly even being able to being balanced- where could this plan possibly go wrong?
It could go wrong by every California state employee going just that much deeper into debt or disappearing for good under the waters of foreclosure and defaults that this pretty substantial cut in pay they're all being faced with will accomplish.


Finally- just as we reach our limit of gloom, there she is as the 4th most important story we as Americans need to pay attention to- full page and in all her glory- "Britney Spears' Fashion Blunder".

And Boy Howdy does she deliver. From the inexplicably cleated neon sneakers to the knee high tube sox to the short shorts and tank top that shows (and not in a good way) her "foundation garments" underneath, and in one shining moment all those unpleasant bad economy feelings are vanquished as we take a quick glance at what we ourselves are wearing and being able to conjure up relief, smugness, satisfaction and yea verily even superiority because even if I'm wearing Goodwill flannel jammie pants and my rattiest tie-dyed in high school 35 years ago t-shirt, I'm stylin' finer than Ms. Spears right at this particular moment.

So really. How bad can all that other stuff really be?

News-like website 1
American Consumer 0


  1. I often find that not having cable (not having television at all, for that matter) has made us sort of immune to the silly stuff. That is, the only news I hear is on NPR, so I don't really ever get the Lohan stuff and the fluffy stories. Frequently, someone will mention some celeb, and I have no idea who they are talking about. I have to say, with the fluff removed, I find I really am much more focused on the big stories.

  2. I saw the Brit Spears story and inwardly groaned. I frankly DO NOT CARE what those people wear, or who they sleep with, or what they say. At any rate, I'm glad we no longer have TV service!