20Recently, an acquaintance told us that a long-time friend of hers discovered her husband had been living a double life! This guy used to fly to Argentina all the time, and the wife always thought it was for business – which it was, but there was a lot more to the story. After his sudden, tragic death, she found out he had a whole other life – another home, wife, and kids. The tale was just incredulous – but it came from a reliable source, was true, and oh-so-juicy.

And, we re-told this story to people at gatherings. It was a great story.

Who doesn’t like a good story like that?

Then it dawned on me: That’s what the news is filled with.

The news is chock-full of incredible, almost unbelievable stories of shocking things that people do. A snake is found in a used couch. Someone goes ballistic and hurts people in a movie theater. A parent is raising 10 kids in a double-wide trailer. A top athlete, once regarded as a role model, is found to be using performance-enhancing substances.

We watch, listen to, and consume news that is filled with these kinds of stories.

Why?

The answer people give is usually a variation of, “I want/need to be informed of what’s going on in the world.” But really, I think we like the sensational stories.

I’m going to challenge you to give up on the world’s news for a week. In its stead, focus on the withdrawal. Give yourself permission not to know what terrible things are going on “out there” and pay attention to what you feel as a result of not knowing.

If every time you called me or every time you came to my house, all I talked for a half hour about incredible stories of craziness, you’d think, “I don’t want to go to his house anymore. Enough!”

How about the news you watch, listen to, and read?

Do a cost/benefit analysis: what are you getting out of keeping up with the news? Is it helping you? Is it putting you in a constant state of fear, disgust, or disappointment? Are you getting more good from it than not? And, because I find it amusing, I will prooftext my admonition to refrain from the news with a Biblical quote: “Do not turn to a medium or necromancer; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them.” (Leviticus 19:31) We know that the plural of medium is media.

This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Take a break from the news gossip.

With love,

rabbi_brian_name_written

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