I don’t always know what is going on in the world — I suspect that most of the time it’s going to hell in a hand basket, but I don’t actually know that for sure. Admittedly, I’m a little self-centered. My world, being as Jackie-centric as it is, means that I pay very little attention to things that don’t impact me. It’s a good bet that I’ll have some idea what the weather is supposed to be like on my day off, but don’t expect me to know that there are changes afoot in Turkey’s political landscape.
In an effort to help me stay a little more on top of things, my husband, the far more interested in keeping current, Fang, recommended that, to this end, I download an app. This was prompted, no doubt, by his exasperation with his ill-informed wife. In an urgent tone, he reported that this app would send breaking news directly and immediately to my phone. I’ve forgotten what exactly it was that I didn’t know that so exasperated him. Whatever it was it caused him to nearly beg that I show a little more interest in both national and international events. He may have mumbled something about being an embarrassment to the family name.
I would like to take this opportunity to defend myself — and the family name — by saying that I often know when there’s big stuff going on in the world — not always, but often enough. I knew about the missing Malaysian airliner, for example. That this may have been the result of social media being all abuzz about it, I can’t recall. It’s probable that I had come by this information by clicking on a link that some helpful friend posted and which I stumbled across while I was trolling around on Facebook while awaiting new lives to load for Candy Crush. While it’s possible that I got the information in another way, it’s not bloody likely.
Unless there’s a baseball game on, I don’t watch television when I’m home alone. Outside of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, I can’t remember a time that a sports network interrupted my enjoyment of a game with current events. As I didn’t have the app yet, it’s a pretty good bet that I got the airliner news, one way or another, via the internet. Even if The Mets were on that day, I don’t remember Keith, Ronnie, Kevin, or Gary commenting on it.
Because I was so proud of myself for finally being in the loop about something newsworthy, I not only had a conversation with Fang about it, I initiated one. I know. It was cocky of me, but sometimes I have to take my successes where I find them. Breezily and confidently, I just threw a comment out there, over dinner or some such, in a nonchalant way about how it was so odd that such a large thing could just disappear into thin air. By way of a response, Fang just looked at me and said, “It’s good to know that news made it to Facebook.” Alas, he’s always on to my shenanigans.
I decided to let this mildly snarky comment slide. I had already allowed my mind to wander. That it wandered in the direction of “Where We Get Our News Today”, instead of whether I had remembered to tape last week’s installment of “Ripper Street” or when, if ever, PBS would provide the world with another episode of “Endeavour”, surprised even me.
Normally, those are the sorts of questions that take up space in my brain, not why I, and I suspect millions of others, no longer keep up with what’s going on in the world through newspapers, television, and/or radio. Honestly, if the event doesn’t make it to my home page or if someone doesn’t post or comment on it through social media — it’s helpful when they provide a link — I won’t know about it.
Frankly, I’ve never been one to read a daily newspaper. I used to get The New York Times delivered, but that was mainly for show and for the crossword puzzle. National television news spends far too much air time time covering wars, famines, and natural disasters; local television expends its energy on fires and murders. It’s downright depressing.
As far as the radio is concerned, if we even own one, I don’t know where it is. Once in a while I’ll tune in to NPR, but I do that via the internet, too. I do so enjoy “This American Life”.
With this topic in mind, I interrupted my husband, the guy who foolishly thought he was having a conversation with me, while he was going on and on about the theories that were swirling around regarding the circumstances of how a gigantic aircraft could just disappear. I asked him how he happened to come by all of this information — these theories, I suspected, weren’t his own. That’s when he told me about the fabulous app he had on his phone, the one that delivers to him, in real time, breaking news stories.
I did not ask him why he thought his means for keeping current was better than mine. I knew then, as I know now, that he would make the argument that his source was better, more professional, more substantial, even, than my more willy-nilly method. I wasn’t looking to tangle with him, I simply wanted to know.
Ultimately and for some inexplicable reason — perhaps I thought that my husband and I would converse about issues and affairs not related to baseball if I knew something about issues and affairs unrelated to baseball — I did something that seemed a good idea at the time. I downloaded the app. I’ve regretted it ever since.
This thing beeps and blips all night long! It has, thus far, alerted me to many, many things in the middle of the night that are of little or no interest to me, but that I fear, as a result of the incessant beeping and blipping, may be of utmost importance. Every time the noise alerts me to something new, I worry that if I don’t at least glance at it, I may miss out on life-saving information.
This gripping dread has led me on far too many recent evenings to roll over, bolt upright, begin a search for my glasses, and wearily click on the app, as I hope against hope that I won’t be instructed to evacuate my premises or, God forbid, the State of New Jersey. I know all too well that in my mismatched pajamas and brightly colored fuzzy socks, I’m not really dressed for that sort of thing.
Fortunately, no such instructions have been forthcoming. Instead, I have been advised about fires in Russian shipyards that may, or may not, involve nuclear submarines, nearly minute-by-minute reports about what Congress may or may not be up to (in the dead of the night?), and sanctions that the UN may or may not levy upon some country that up to now I didn’t even know how to spell.
I could go on and on, as the stupid app does, but I won’t. I’ll spare you that. Suffice it to say that this app hasn’t provided me with new information on anything that is of any real concern to me. I still, for example, do not know what the BBC is up to in reference to “Endeavour”. As soon as I delete the app, I am going to do what I always do when I want to discover something — search the internet or head on over to Facebook or Twitter. What’s nice about my method, willy-nilly though it is, is that I can use it at my convenience, like when I’m awake.
My husband can go ahead and think me shallow and ill-informed. That’s fine. I’ll learn to live with being a disgrace to our name, which is his name anyway, so, really, what do I care? If I’m going to plow through life shallow and ill-informed, at least I’ll be both of those things AND well-rested. I’ll just have to rely upon Fang to rouse me from my slumber if, indeed, the zombies (or the Russians, or the Redcoats) are coming. Hopefully, I’ll be wearing matching pajamas.