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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Will Power

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Originally published January 8, 2010

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

Starting the new year, I’m on a diet. My goal is to consume less online news.

It’s a test of my will power, because I have the bad habit of clicking on every news story that catches my eye while working on other things online. Opening up my home page recently, I noticed the news item “Bay Area highways second-worst in the nation.” No big surprise, but I really wanted to know – where do you find worse highways than here?

However, I have to learn to resist the temptation. I won’t quit reading the news, but I need to limit the times I indulge. No more all-day snacking.

Recently, I’ve really let myself go. It’s not enough to read “Obama hails big victory on health care.” I also have to click on “Health care bill’s winners and losers” which in turn leads me to “Side deals criticized.” I can’t stop at just one.

My lack of self-control can wreak havoc with my schedule. After I drop my son at preschool each day, I have only two and a half hours to write, run errands, fulfill school commitments, and so on. Recently, I lost 26 minutes as I read “Climate change advocates criticize Copenhagen outcome,” followed by “Rapid rate of species loss rising,” and finally “Scientists say earth on track for epic die-off.” I never made it to the grocery store that day.

I know I’m completely out of control when I take time to read stories with no redeeming value. It’s like eating junk food. Although I was able to restrain myself from reading “Tiger Woods hurt in car accident in front of Florida home” and “Tiger Woods cancels yet another meeting with state troopers,” I couldn’t resist reading “More women claim affairs with Tiger Woods.”

But I really have to watch out for certain hard news stories. When I’m in the middle of a something and I stumble upon “Obama to send more 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan,” it stops me in my tracks. It’s difficult to digest, and I suddenly lose my whole focus.

More importantly, a story like this deserves more than a fast read, wedged between other things. And, it won’t go away with one quick click, after I finish reading it.

So, instead of nibbling all day long, I’m trying to read the news just twice a day. I give it my full attention. Take time to chew it over.

Now if only there was a way to make bad news, such as the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, more palatable. Then maybe I could get rid of this unpleasant taste in my mouth.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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