Dawson column: Social media causes man to lose 2,000 pounds
One of the greatest comedians you've probably never heard of is a guy by the name of Bill Hicks. His insight was unparalleled, his humor had teeth and he was from the South.
I didn't agree with Hicks on many subjects, but his intellect and sometimes viscous wit put the "Southern bumpkin" comic persona on a tee and kicked it out of the stadium. Hicks and fellow Southerner Tim Wilson were probably the most original comedic voices to emerge in the 1990s, and sadly they're no longer with us.
One Hicks routine I thought was right on the money was his bit about 24-hour news channels. He made this observation in 1994, and the following (edited) quote is more applicable today than ever before:
"You ever watch CNN for longer than, say, 20 hours in one day? It’s the most depressing thing you’ll ever see, man. 'WAR, FAMINE, DEATH, AIDS, HOMELESS, RECESSION, DEPRESSION, WAR, FAMINE, DEATH, AIDS.' Over and over again. Then you look out your window - (crickets chirping) - where’s all this going on, man?"
Hicks goes on to theorize that CNN owner Ted Turner was in a bad mood because his then-wife Jane Fonda wanted nothing to do with him. Since misery loves company, Hicks believed Turner was running a continuous loop of bad news so the rest of the world would be as depressed as he was.
Of course there's no proof to back up any of this, but it's a great premise and a bona fide knee-slapper.
In the cold light of whatever year this is, we have the added bonus of social media spreading all sense of turmoil quicker and faster than any 10 cable news networks combined. I've unfollowed so many people on Facebook and Twitter over the last few years that Weight Watchers started sending me a commemorative 2,000-pound charm for every 10th person I unfollow on social media.
For the record, I have no issue with anyone's political beliefs. My problem is being bombarded with those political beliefs from the time I get up in the morning till the time I put on my big and tall footie pajamas and turn in for a restful night's slumber.
Even if I happen to agree with your point of view on a particular topic, I don't need you to post about it every 12 seconds. If you're going to post something every 12 seconds, throw in a few clips of dogs trying to avoid being given a bath. There's nothing funnier than a dog fighting off a bath, and no matter your political affiliation you're going to laugh.
Proceed with caution if you're looking to social media for news coverage. If you're going to an outlet (such as Neuse News) that features content generated by trained journalists and writers (that are not allowed to use anonymous sources), then you're harnessing the power of the internet to retrieve verifiable information.
Conversely, if you're getting your news from a blog that portrays one political party as being 100 percent correct all the time and the other party as being 100 percent wrong all the time, you might as well watch The Food Network for sports updates.
It's important to be an informed citizen - especially when it comes to local matters. As for national politics, to be honest, I just don't have the stomach for it anymore. The last presidential campaign left me more depleted than the Golden Corral buffet after the Rosie O'Donnell Show Christmas party of '98.
I now treat national politics the way some people treat The Young and The Restless. You check in every so often to see who Victor Newman is about to destroy and then duck back out.
When used correctly, social media can be an excellent tool for disseminating information, keeping in touch with old friends and seeing videos of unfortunate middle-aged guys doing belly flops. At its worst, social media is a disease-carrying insect, infecting millions of people a day with anger and vitriol, which causes stress that's passed on to those around them.
Who knew that one day computer viruses would be able to jump to humans?
Just so you know, I love social media. I'm a music nerd and check many music groups on Facebook daily to nerd out with other nerds. I use social media to promote Neuse News and other newsworthy items that need more exposure.
But social media is just like your lawn - it requires constant weeding. If there's someone on your page who cannot respirate without continually posting something divisive, do yourself a favor and unfollow them. It's cheaper than Roundup and just as effective.
A friend of mine who we'll refer to as "Lee" (because her name is Lee) is possibly the most obsessive news junkie I've ever met. We text/talk often, and although she is a well-informed citizen, she's filled with enough anxiety to make Woody Allen look like Matthew McConaughey after a Valium.
I've sent Lee links to articles proving too much "news" is harmful. She agrees with me, because, well, she'd already read the article I sent plus 12 more saying the same thing. In short, she became obsessed with reading articles telling her reading the articles was bad for her.
In no way am I suggesting we as a people collectively stick our heads in the sand. Goodness knows those in power need to be watched, but we also need to realize at the end of the day all we can do is vote and hope for the best.
Find a way to enjoy your loved ones and the life you've worked hard to build. Write your congressman, vote in every election and remember to find pockets of time to live a life.
Jon Dawson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jondawson.com.