Hear It Today, It’s Gone Tomorrow

Maybe it’s the end of the world scenarios that seem to crop up every couple of months, or a pending storm that has everyone hunkering down and buying up the last of the milk, eggs and bread on the shelf because this is the “Big One.” Or like yesterday, where international news was that we are all being slowly poisoned by the arsenic in our rice.

It amazes me that the whole world can be scared to death, running in circles because of a news report, where some part of the truth may be there, albeit under a mountain of misleading or false information, rumors and facts completely blown out of proportion. And then, in a New York minute, it becomes yesterday’s news, buried beneath the publishing of the Duchess Kate’s topless photos or Lindsay Lohan’s latest escapade.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Or rather, hear it today, it’s gone tomorrow.

What an emotional rollercoaster. And it’s hard to explain it to my kids.

My 10-year-old came home from school yesterday asking about the rice thing. He was worried because his mother, that would be me, has recently found a store in town that makes killer rice pudding and I had brought some home for the joyful consumption for my family. I am not punning here. This rice pudding is the best darn thing I have ever tasted. I called it killer rice pudding and now, with the FDA coming out with these scary statistics about rice and arsenic, well, shoot. I wasn’t trying to be literal when I spoke. It was just damn good. To die for even. Sorry. That was punny.

Well now he is scared because the kids in school are saying “you’re gonna die if you eat rice!”

It was hard to try to explain to him that the media sometimes shoots first and then asks questions later. Don’t eat the rice, it’s poison. Well, not really but here are the facts…..

Same thing happens every time the media plays up the end of the world scenarios or the big storms. And then when they don’t happen, my kids are just a little bit more confused.

When I worked in the news, many moons ago, I remember times when my editor took a very small part of any news story that was provocative and made that the shout out headline. I would try to argue that it wasn’t the meat of the story, that this other part was. Sometimes I would win. Most times I did not.

Provocative sells. Sex sells. Life is boring and no one reads boring. That was what I was told as a green reporter. I certainly didn’t agree with it and don’t now. I realize that in a world of thousands of news outlets vying for the same story, competition is fierce, but blowing news out of proportion is just bad journalism.

I wish they would stop.

As a parent, I feel for my kids. The challenge of trying to make heads or tails of the world news in a time of instantaneous consumption of it is nearly impossible. And the elementary school playground can be a free for all, a cacophony of points of view depending on which network or website from which their parents get their news.

All I can say is Yikes.

I remember when I was a kid. We had one tv, maybe six stations and I only read the newspaper when I had to bring in an article for current events. Every place was a far away land. We didn’t hear about children gone missing, school shootings and hostage situations. Celebrities were worshipped, not followed around with cameras everyday to the point of wanting restraining orders. When there was an emergency, it was a real one. You hunkered down or evacuated before a hurricane. You didn’t stay because you were sure the news was “wrong again.”

Sometimes I think life would be easier as an oblivious non observer. I would sit blissfully listening to the sounds outside and not think about the ticks giving me lyme disease, the allergens in the air or a mouse that may or may not be carrying a 14th century disease.

I could eat that huge bowl of rice pudding, and I surely wouldn’t know if it was laced with arsenic because I’m not paying attention.

Don’t worry. I won’t bury my  head in the sand. For my kids’ sake.

But I am gonna eat that rice pudding. Arsenic or not.

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