Avoiding WTMI | Editor's Note
Last updated 7/6/2021 at 12:47pm
It's a weird time to be a writer. I automatically assume that you are not even listening.
The reason I assume you are not "listening" is that we were already in the era of too much information in about 2002-ish when I attended a writer's workshop. In it, the speaker asked a group of writers a question, but first she described the day of the average information consumer. The challenge was to think of the reader, and what they were enduring.
She asked how many items one person would be provoked to take in, during one day of information consuming. It included phone calls, emails, letters, newspaper articles, magazine articles – all the claims, quips, and attempts to get your attention, in one single day.
And this inquiry was pitched when social media was not yet a fully entrenched norm.
The question was this:
What would happen if you literally read, viewed, listened to and otherwise soaked up every piece of information that came your way, in one day?
Her answer: you would die.
Her reasoning was that you would die because you would never eat, sleep, exercise, or even get up out of your chair. I'll just aposit that you might stop breathing, from all the gasping you'd be doing. Because in the way too much information era that followed the too much information era the messaging has at times become inflammatory, lacking relevant facts that turn down the heat on a story, or simply false. Sometimes false to the point of panic-producing. It's an ugly time in mass media, because everyone and anyone can hit "post" and while that freedom is sacredly protected (and I support that protection) the responsibility behind that power is often forgotten.
When that presenter said "you would die," she was being cheeky. Because generally speaking people will not take in all the information that comes their way in a day. But it is worthy of pondering -- what do you read? What do you ignore? Where do you spend your mental mindshare in a single media-consuming day?
Enter print news: isn't this nice? Maybe you are sitting and reading, at home with a hot cup of coffee. I am envisioning a coffee-cup ring right about ... here. Perhaps it is encircling partial sentences from three paragraphs, unless you have one of those larger cups.
Ah, but I'll wrap this up. You probably need to go check your social media news feed or respond to that incessant beeping from texts coming in. We have entered that slice of time too – one my husband predicted back in the TMI era. Back then, he said "someday when something beeps, we're going to have to stop and figure out where it came from."
Now that day is here. Do you hear that beep? And the one from across the room?
"Where did that come from?" you just thought. Pillows flying, eyes darting from corner to corner, chair to chair, table to table. Viewing windowsills, desks, countertops and asking "why did I get the black phone again?"
Relax. Ignore that beep. And that one. And that one.
Here are a few high priority tidbits that may help as we move through a COVID-19 surge:
* Masks work: The CDC has announced that masks not only protect the people nearby, but the wearer too. Previously, the advice was that only N-95 masks protected the wearer. https://bit.ly/35Ob5NE.
* Travel recommendations from the CDC as it relates to COVID-19 risk is this: don't travel this holiday season. https://bit.ly/3lUwbQc.
* Exercise is highly effective as a treatment for depression, but it takes that counterintuitive get-up-and-go that can evaporate when people are feeling down. It also works to alleviate stress and anxiety. Mask up and go outside – as long as you can remain socially distant and masked, outdoor exercise has never been banned in the pandemic, save for the events-dependent kind: https://bit.ly/36TrAaP.
* Comfort foods are a nice touch, particularly during the holiday season, and we'll take your ideas. No one has contacted me yet, darn! If the pressure to create your culinary concoction and take a photo is too much to plan, just send me the recipe and the story behind it: https://bit.ly/36SQTtA.
* Restaurants have faced two indoor bans since the pandemic started. Directions on how to support them and stay within health guidelines are here: https://bit.ly/2IYhpZX. Officials are sending a message of voluntary compliance, not enforcement.
* Most medical agencies have resources for behavioral health that can assist with any mental health crisis, whether it is an ongoing condition or a new, pandemic-related issue: #https://bit.ly/3pM6rrB#. For those who are concerned with the stigma of mental health care, know that federal law protects your medical privacy, so if you find mental health care embarrassing, go get help anyway. The people who are involved in your care are required by law to protect your privacy. If you want it private, do not tell non-medical people about it.
* Substance use disorders and addictions can worsen when pressure increases in life. Reach out for help: https://bit.ly/2IKLoFl. Opioid specific addictions crises? Contact Ideal Option out of Everett: https://www.idealoption.com.
Want more information on how the pandemic is impacting Mill Creek without a Google search that leads to WTMI? Drop a note to the editor, with a story idea. Your note will not be published unless you call it a "letter to the editor." For those disinterested in public attention, you can just send a story idea or even a question. Please put "story idea" in the subject line, and send an email to Mill Creek Beacon Editor Jana Hill at [email protected].