Turn Off the News – Now

Last week we spent glued to our television sets, caught as surely as a fly in a spider’s web as we watched with a mixture of horror, compassion and fascination as the most real of all reality shows played out before us on television, climaxing in a dramatic Friday night primetime gun battle, seen live around the country.
From 2:50 p.m. on Monday afternoon when the two bombs exploded on Boylston Street in Boston until the capture of the second bomber on Friday evening, it was difficult to do anything but watch TV. How many hours did you lose glued to your television set?
For me, this time it was personal. I first heard about the bombs even before the story made the news. My son lives in Boston, and as it turns out, the office he works in overlooks the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. He’d sent his dad a photo earlier in the day showing the great view he had of the race from five stories above the crowd. Thank goodness, he texted his father that he was fine even before the story hit the news, so I was never really worried that he had been hurt. But later that evening, as I Googled his office address and matched it with the videos I was seeing on television, I realized he had been exactly halfway in between the two bombs. If they had been more powerful … if it had been a different type of bomb …
After that, I couldn’t quit watching. I stayed up late watching the news, listening to the same commentators make the same statements and run the same videos over and over again. I turned on the TV as soon as I woke up in the morning, checked in at lunchtime, listened to the news on the radio when I was driving in my car, and settled in again by the set from dinnertime until bedtime. I woke on Friday morning to scenes of an entire city in lockdown and was unable to turn off the TV set until the killer was captured that night.
But I wasn’t the only one, and it wasn’t just the fact that I had a loved one so close to the bombings that had me trapped as securely in front of my TV as a fly on sticky tape. Most of the country was glued to the television, too. Why this enthrallment? I’m not planning to analyze our country’s fascination with horror, comment on the way the media covers this type of event, or proclaim that terrorists win when we change our routine. There enough people doing that already.
I’m talking about something more personal. How spending so much time watching, listening, talking and thinking about horrific acts drags us down, makes us less productive and drains our creativity. If you still feel stuck in the weight of last week’s drama, take steps today to move on. Get out and take a walk, meet with friends, go to a movie, play tennis or golf, or just read a book. One of the best things you can do is write about your feelings, get them out and move on. Then get back to work on your book or other writing. But most importantly, turn off the news – now.

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