The other night I was relaxing and scrolling through the Internet when I came across this headline: “Michael Strahan snubbed live on air by co-star who REFUSES to hang out with him.” The publication in question is the U.S. Sun, which is essentially a tabloid newspaper featuring the “latest news exclusives” on sport, celebrities, entertainment, politics, business, and lifestyle, in other words, dishing up the dirt for our voyeuristic pleasure. Normally when I read this stuff I am usually in the queue at the supermarket and perusing the headlines of this and other such publications, never lifting one off the rack to look inside for fear of becoming somehow tainted. I will admit to being in, shall we say, a feisty mood when I read this particular headline as my initial reaction to it went something like this: “WTF! Who gives a flying fuck about any of this this shit.” This was followed by more colorful language ending with the conclusion that as a society we are doomed!
And then I got to thinking. Not about why there are so many of these publications, but more about what this type of “information” provides us as a society. The more I thought about this, I was led to the following conclusion: This type of “news” is, first and foremost, a diversion, or if you will, a distraction. From what you may ask? Well, the simple answer is “life.” Not that these types of stories are not part of life, they are, they are just not part of our lives, which somehow makes us feel, if not better, perhaps somehow above it all. Of course, there are a myriad of other ways we can create a diversion from our collective daily grinds. There are books, movies, music, theater, ahem, the Internet, just to name a few. But all of these need an investment of time, which for most people is in short supply these days. So, headlines and very short pieces seem to suffice. I am reminded of Jeff Goldblum’s character in the 1983 film “The Big Chill,” where he plays a writer for People Magazine and says the following to his friends as they gather for the funeral of a mutual friend: ‘My job is to write pieces that are short enough that the average person could read one in the time it took them to have a crap.” I don’t know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of time reading on the throne!
The truth of the matter is that we all NEED diversions, every last one of us. We need diversions from our daily lives, from what’s going on in the world, from politics, from the economy, from wars, from pandemics, and in many cases from reality, or whatever passes as reality these days. And to be fair, no one should judge anyone else on what form those diversions take. If reading about poor Michael Strahan being snubbed by a co-star is your jam, then by all means go for it. On the other end of the spectrum, if your diversion is to read an article from the New Scientist on splitting the atom, then go for it. Or maybe that headline telling you that Elvis is still alive is speaking to you and enabling you to forget the very shitty day you had at work, read on. My only words of caution: Remember that the nature of a diversion is to temporarily turn aside a particular course of purpose, the key word here being TEMPORARY. Unless, of course, you want to stay in a PERMANENT state of diversion, then just get into politics. Or you can hang out with Michael Strahan and massage his bruised ego!
Los Angeles 2022