Back when I wrote in-depth about various shootings, I eventually set a rule to not comment before 48 hours had gone by. Because I took it for granted that the news was far more concerned with being first than they were with being right, and that nobody would know anything solid before the people with eyes on had the time to file their reports and take a shower.
And bear in mind, this was on a subject where I had a good bit of depth of knowledge. Not so much that I didn't twitch inside when someone called me an expert, but enough that I was definitely on the far side of mount stupid and well across the valley to the next slope.
In the past few months, I've noticed quite a number of topics inciting the same level of... I'll be polite and call it "passion," which turned out to be the same way, be it fires in the Amazon or whatever Trump's up to next. They followed the same pattern of 48 hours of outrage, then in-depth commentary ranging from clarification to outright debunking (if you were paying attention) just before it fell off the news cycle.
I haven't been engaging in these nearly as much because, frankly, I'm not nearly as deep in these topics as I am in violence. I'll stop, look, and read, but I can only research so much. And given the number of smart and well-meaning but thoroughly fucking duped people I've had to deal with when armed to the teeth with expertise, I wasn't about to jump into such frays with the rhetorical equivalent of my underwear and a prison shank.
Hell, I don't have the time or energy to go into what I'm even half-prepared about. There's a reason the only six words you'll hear me comment about ICE at the moment are, "You're looking in the wrong places."
To be honest, I'm fighting human nature here. News as a business is in the toilet. Somewhere in the next world, Pulitzer and Hearst are looking at Walter Cronkite going, "our way wins, you stoic fuck." The only thing that pays the bills is clicks, and nothing gets you and me clicking more than pointing at something else for us to be pissed off about.
On top of that, there's now a grassroots movement to be perpetually pissed off. Not doing anything useful with it, just being pissed off. Seriously, how many stories showing some good people doing good things have you seen lately with the headline comment that's a variation on the theme of: "THE WORLD IS SHIT AND GARBAGE AND THESE PEOPLE HAD TO SHOW COMPASSION BECAUSE FACELESS GROUPS WE HATE WOULDN'T BOW TO OUR WHIMS! THERE, I FIXED IT FOR YOU!" ?
At least the news outlets have the understandable if pathetic reasoning of patronizing for clicks. I don't know what the screech-a-thon horde's excuses are. Being uselessly miserable gives cred these days, I guess. Fuck, find a heavy bag or something if you're that cranky. Then at least you're burning calories.
Going forward, I'm not even going to look at the hot new topic to get pissed off about for at least 48 hours, more likely 72. Waiting until the first responders have hosed off the blood and been debriefed is just as worthy for a wildfire or a filed lawsuit as it is for a mass shooting.
Some reading this now have the word "privilege" coming to mind. They can, one and all, go fuck themselves.
(Shit, the hit of dopamine will do 'em more good than the screeching will.)
Even if I believed in this bastardized concept of privilege, which I don't, I got too many dead friends and too much wasted time on my ledger to worry about someone making demands about the playlist on my emotional jukebox.
So if you're wondering why I'm not engaging as much anymore, there it is. It's not enough to not feed the trolls, I can't in good conscience click on any more bait. One more person skipping the fast-food line of clickbait and going to the sit-down joint of in-depth analysis means healthier brain habits.
Who knows, it might even trend.