No News Is Good News?

As a basic idiom, “no news is good news” was a fairly simple, self-explanatory little phrase: if you didn’t hear about something, things were probably going pretty well, and the best course of action would probably be not to fuck with them too much. If something went wrong, hopefully someone would send up a flare, and you’d be able to figure out how to solve the problem.

Somewhere along the way, everything changed. The 24-hour news cycle began. During the OJ Simpson trial, the TV in the kitchen (usually reserved for dinnertime news-watching) was turned on during the day so my parents could obsessively follow what was happening in that courtroom not so far from the house they were in. The TV never really turned off after that.

Somewhere around 2005, YouTube appeared, and with it, the emergence of something that was in us all along – that we could be stars. All of us. The rise of reality TV didn’t help that. After the writer’s strike, we were suddenly in the throes of Web 2.0, and it started moving faster than anything else. With the advent of social media, humans began existing on a brand new connected planet. And, even more suddenly, we were expected to make EVERYTHING into news. Every meal, every piece of media we consumed, every outfit change, every night out- it’s no longer about living a life we’re okay with, it’s about the population of our own personal news feeds in our own personal 24-hour news cycles. Just being a human in the modern world now means we have to create news, and no news is no longer good news. No news means you don’t exist. “No news” is now tinged with the threat of irrelevance. The idea of “no news” isn’t even a fathomable idea anymore. Who are we without news? Who are we if we’re not making the news ourselves? If there’s good news, does it still exist if we don’t share it? (yes.) I feel intense pressure all the time to say something or create something and to make sure it’s consumable or sharable or otherwise digestible by an audience. Despite my overwhelming reticence to do something for the sake of doing it, I feel the pressure. Whether I give in to the pressure or not fluctuates on a daily (hourly, to-the-minute) basis. My struggle with making sure that I seem okay (busy) and happy (successful) is often directly at odds with how I’m actually feeling (staring down the barrel of time into a deep existential vat of nothingness and obscurity) on any given day.

Then we entered this completely insane political climate. Again, as during the OJ trial, the TV is on all the time (not in my house, but in many houses) because we’re terrified to look away from the implosion of everything we’ve known to be true up until this point. We are, again, at odds with “no news is good news” defining itself as a third thing entirely. Now, literally, none of the news is good news. Okay, very little of the news is good news. No news is good news, aside from the few Twitter accounts I follow that devote themselves entirely to calming people down with photos of adorable baby animals. And the great @tinycarebot, which reminds followers to do things like “take a sip of water” or “stretch your arms over your head” when you’ve been staring at the internet too long. It’s really good, and I recommend giving it a follow.

I’m exhausted. I don’t have anything good to say. I have no news, and the news I have is not good. It’s a delectable combination of lingering depression/anxiety, confusion about the world, and the feeling that I’m being held in place by a thousand forces and I can’t escape. But you’d never know it, because I keep that locked away here, on the internet, where anyone can see it.