Checking In On the (Lack Of) News

I was sent an email today by a Whatever reader noting that I was notably light on political commentary here these days and being curious as to why that might be. It’s a good question, and the answers are, alas, not that exciting:

1. My previously-noted Trump Quandry is still in effect, in which things happen fast enough that by the time I have what I consider a useful opinion on something, it’s three to seven major political news stories back in the slipstream;

2. The above-mentioned phenomenon means that Twitter is actually the best place for me to do a quick reaction/bit of snark, and having done that, move on to the next thing;

3. Even the longer thoughts I have eventually boil down to “Malign and/or incompetent people are running the country and this latest thing just accentuates that point again,” and there’s only so many ways to play that variation of a theme without getting bored, and I’m kinda bored of it;

4. Hey, there’s a novel I’m writing with a deadline coming up! So that’s a thing, too.

And also there’s the thing that honestly writing a long piece about politics now just fills me with ennui and a desire to take nap, and while naps are objectively great, the ennui part is not so much. Right now, I just don’t wanna, basically. So, I don’t — or don’t as much — and put most of my editorializing on Twitter. It’s not to say that from time to time I won’t have something I want to pursue at a longer length. It simply means I’m having relatively fewer moments like that at the moment.

Honestly I think part of it is that as much as anything else I’m finding this current political moment sad. For example, that fool Sam Nunberg today, a former Trump campaign official who’s been traipsing from one cable outlet to the next, becoming progressively unhinged as he goes along. Sure, he’s a landfill of snarkable moments, and also, underlying that is the increasingly likely possibility our current president is a Russian tool, unwitting or otherwise, and, I don’t know. That kind of ruins the fun for me. Now, maybe that’s temporary — a lot really is contingent on other factors, like actual work I get paid for taking up brain cycles — but right now that’s where I’m at.

So this is why political commentary is sorta sparse here at the moment. In its place: Lots of pictures and reviews of tech and otherwise whatever I feel like writing about — which is why it’s called “Whatever.” I’m pretty sure the urge to write more, and in detail, about politics will come around again. Until then, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

28 Comments on “Checking In On the (Lack Of) News”

  1. i knew about compassion fatigue, but it wasn’t until this year that i learned about schadenfreude fatigue.

  2. Fair enough. My reaction to today’s revelations, and the continuing flow practically since last January, has been a slow roll from incredulity to anger to frustration to begin again, faster and faster. I was barely old enough to remember Watergate, and this looks even more tawdry and pustulent.

  3. I think that Nunberg’s first name is actually “Unhinged.”

    The current unpleasantness is revealing much too clearly just how prevalent irrationality and insanity are in the country’s population. Sad.

  4. Nunberg. I’m mystified. What he did today was unhinged. Does it benefit him somehow that I can’t begin to imagine? Any legal beagles out there who might know? Or was he on some combination of drugs? Or did he meet with a Russian with weird hair who pushed a button we don’t know about yet right between Nunberg’s third and fourth ribs, and gave him his marching orders? Is it — God help us — the bees?

    Honestly. What’s going on here? This simulation is totally out of hand.

  5. Thank you, dear Scalzi, for offering a respite from the stupid, the crazy, and the downright dangerous political reality we face today.

  6. I’ve had to check out of most of the news anyway. Don’t forget for marginalized people the news isn’t just tiring, it’s also horrifying, and I I cannot handle a steady diet of terror, like that.

  7. Fair enough. My reaction to today’s revelations, and the continuing flow practically since last January, has been a slow roll from incredulity to anger to frustration to begin again, faster and faster. I was barely old enough to remember Watergate, and this looks even more tawdry and pustulent.

    Almost infinitely more so I’d say. Except I might substitute the word evil for tawdry. Tawdry doesn’t really begin to cover it when it comes to a gang of incompetent grifters destroying our country from within.

  8. You have summed up exactly how we feel. These two years have been exhausting and sometimes, we need to not deal with them awhile. May times be better while we are here to enjoy them. Godspeed to you, book and naps and all that.

  9. As long as everyone votes in November for people who are more along the lines of decent human beings who don’t support this shit I prefer to let the outrage simmer over having to deal with the stress of it exploding every day.

  10. “It distresses me, this failure to keep pace with the leaders of thought
    as they pass into oblivion.”
    — Max Beerbohm

  11. Insert ‘you are not our monkey’ statement here.

    Aside from the fact that you gotta self-care and you need to worry about your actual work commitments (which are not inconsequential), the fact should be self-obvious that you owe folks exactly nothing in terms of what you discuss or when, regardless of how salient or entertaining that might be.

    We have reached the plateau where some people will never find fault with the current administration, regardless of ANY action they take and everyone else is already pretty much aware of the facts on the ground. That makes a lot of navel-gazing an effort of preaching to the choir and not necesarilly all that productive at this point. I admit I didn’t think we would reach a point where I would consider GWB a competent speaker, but Trump just sounds so unintelligent when he speaks that it’s amazing to me. GWB may not have been a big thinker, but he could at least SOUND presidential when wanted to. Trump always sounds like a guy cooking hot dogs at a barbecue.

  12. Not political, but I was reading this article yesterday and you were mentioned!

    “For essentially all of human history, science fiction writer John Scalzi has memorably written, if you have been born a straight white male, it is as if you are playing a computer game called “The Real World” with the difficulty set on the lowest level.”

    You probably know about this already but I don’t do the twitter thing…

  13. Malaise here, or since we know who and what is the cause, I just don’t wanna (as you say). Instead, I’ll take any and all tech reviews you dish up. Your Pixel 2 words were spot on and pushed me over the hump to buying. Indeed, simply love it. The whole Google ecology is one of the main reasons, nearly instant updates is the other and probably number one. Worked computers and security all my career, and my wife still does. Timely (almost instant from Google) updates are beyond words priceless. The hardware is much more than adequate, very, very good actually especially the screen and battery life, but software integration and ecology are amazing. Well done John and thank you. So, more tech please and yes, as always, more books. Actually any damned thing you want to write is fine with me and the pictures (cats…hint, hint) are always grand.

  14. How to Goose the Narrative – Tips, Tricks, and Tales from the Snark Side
    by Sam Nunberg

  15. I think we all could write a MadLibs-style document that would fit every one of the bad-circus antics of this administration, and it would be evergreen. To take it one step further, the document could include a list of nouns, verbs and modifiers the reader could just plug right in.

    “The President today ___ [Lied, Reversed Himself, Whined] about ____ [Staffing, Russia, Steel Tariffs] while _____ [Tweeting Frantically, Playing Golf] and the public is ___ [Outraged, Surprised, Bored].

  16. For what it’s worth, I have found that staying out of political discussion (especially online) has helped me in a number of ways: 1) it’s allowed me to be less angry/upset with my friends – even when we agree, these conversations can be upsetting, 2) it’s given me perspective that each individual incident is not the “end of the world” that it feels like when the 24-hr news channels are flogging it, and 3) it’s made me realize that I have the option to keep my opinions to myself, just like we used to do in the pre-Internet days, and the world continues spinning just fine without them.

    As for snark: while you are better at it than most, I’m of the humble opinion that we can all do with a bit less snark these days, so I, for one, am glad that you’re more in read-only mode.

    Good luck with the novel…

  17. It’s gotten to the point where I want a really boring person in the White House.

  18. Did you get a chance to use your earbuds for real-time translation on JoCo Cruise? I’ve been eager to hear how it worked out.

  19. Hey, coming here and not reading about politics for awhile is a good thing. I am very aware that we can’t let the current situation become normal, but that doesn’t mean we need to hit ourselves over the heads with it continuously. Also, it always helps to pet a cat.

  20. Marion Deeds, the Washington Post did a video version of the Mad Libs idea last week. It’s a generic news show:

  21. Is there a difference between ennui and emotional exhaustion? Because the latter is certainly the case for me with regard to trying to keep up with the news.

    One thing I can say, though, is that understanding it all became a lot easier once I allowed “evil” back into my analysis of what’s going on in the halls of power recently…

  22. I stopped watching the news much sometime after the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. I got so fed up, it felt like wading through a morass of raw sewage with an extra helping of fire ants on top, just to add injury to the insult and stink. (Wow, I’m on a roll with the vivid imagery, huh?) — And it got me seriously p?$?ed off and disgusted and saddened and — I got emotional burnout and realized, you know, maybe paying attention to the news was not being a good thing for me, and maybe I should really not for a while. So I’ve been mostly avoiding political news. But it still makes me wonder at what point I went to sleep and woke up in this awful dystopian timeline where my country has been turned into a careening antithesis of self-parody and…yeah. Whew. You can maybe tell it bothers me a little.

    I’m one of those largely marginalized people. And I live in a very mixed, multi-ethnic port city, and you know what? I like that about my city. So the multiple kinds of prejudice and lack of compassion or basic human decency emanating from the current administration makes me wonder (again) what has happened to my country, and to hope and pray it has not yet gone too far to step back from the abyss of chaos, both domestic and foreign, to which it seems headed.

    I want my country to be my country again, and not something that looks way more like any number of countries before takeovers by totalitarian or fascist regimes.

    So…yeah. — John Scalzi, I truly appreciate that you can feel dismayed and burned out about things. I truly appreciate that you write with wit and snark about things that matter, and about whatever the heck appeals to you at the time. You’re a writer. It goes with the gig. (Hey, I’m coming at this from a very liberal arts background. I _like_ writers and thinky bits and books and artistic stuff. If I didn’t, I would no longer be me.)

    Please continue being you and writing on whatever topic appeals to you. — I kinda trust that the person who wrote in was concerned in a good way because they, too, value your opinions and coolness and general good sense. Because it sounds like they do, and that’s good.

    And…I will be very happy when the current administration is outta there. I much prefer the Constitutionally outlined, peaceful and law-abiding process, because it exhibits, you know, some degree of good sense and carefulness about things. So, yeah.

  23. Speaking as (So what do I know?) someone who doesn’t own any handheld devices, I can’t believe any Republican Party-members haven’t said to Trump, “For the love of God, could you just stop tweeting?”

  24. I remember Dick Nixon and Donald Trump is no Dick Nixon; the sad thing is that I’m not even being ironic.

  25. Cannot wait to blast “The Day After You” from the biggest speakers I can deploy.

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