I returned last week from a vacation, at an all inclusive resort, in Puerto Vallarta. My wife, daughter and I have frequented this resort for the past 10 years. Packing for our vacation, I did not include my cell phone or computer. I like to disconnect. While there I do not read the paper, watch TV or follow mainstream news, which I rarely do anyway. For 8 days, I’m almost completely unaware of what is happening in the world, outside of the resort. My only outside connection is when I check my practice e-mail, from the hotel computer, in order to help my patients with any questions or challenges that may arise during my absence.
During this trip, in between body surfing and Dos Equis, I felt compelled to confirm a past cognition. That is, it actually doesn’t matter if you live your life, unaware, of what is being broadcast in the mainstream news. And, not knowing actually, positively, affect one’s life.
During our stays, I have created relationships with various staff members. So, I felt comfortable asking them how much of the outside world they were aware of (politics, war, terrorism, finance…) and how, if at all, knowing or not know it affected their lives. Miguel, the head bartender has been at the resort for 18 years. He’s a machine, serving an almost non-stop line of patrons, 8 hours a day. Miguel is never without a smile. During slower times we’d talk for a few minutes, though he never stopped pouring drinks. I asked Miguel if he followed world news and knew of Donald Trump, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Syria, Wall Street and England leaving the EU. Besides knowing that Donald Trump was our president, England was a country with a queen and hearing people mention ISIS, he didn’t know anything else about the topics. I asked him if any of those topics were important to him. He said, “why would they be?” I asked him, “how happy are you with your job and life?” Miguel smiled and said, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I make a lot of money in tips and have a steady job. My family is taken care of and I have no worries.”
This same ignorance, to what most westerners consider important-to-know-news and relevant to our existence and survival, was shared by every staff member I had the pleasure of talking with. Another person I spoke with was Rosenda. Rosenda was the woman who took care of our room – twice a day. She was content and did here job with a constant smile. When I would ask for something, the answer was always, “my pleasure.” Rosenda knew nothing of the topics I mentioned above and said with a smile, “mi mundo está aquí (my world is here).” I pressed further and she said in broken English, “everything that is important to me is right here – my family, job, and friends. The things you talk about don’t help anybody.” So true.
60+% of the world’s population has no access to the internet. More than 4 billion people don’t know about The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News or CNN. Their world still spins, like ours, living in the bliss of ignorance to what is being reported daily in the mainstream news. The staff at the resort is merely a microcosm of the 4 billion who live without access to the mainstream news. The staff I interacted with were totally okay with not knowing about the negativity that I told them was one of our daily addictions.
News does to the mind what sugar does to the body. Mainstream news, in general, is reported with a predetermined agenda. The news is misleading, it’s irrelevant, it’s never the whole truth, it’s biased and prejudicial, it wastes time, and it makes us passive bystanders rather than active participants. Mainstream news does serve its purpose well. It keeps us suppressed, upset, in fear, and feeds prejudices. It’s like being addicted to an extremely depressing and violent soap opera, that’s been on for 50 years. Even though the storyline hasn’t changed once over the last 50 years, we can’t miss the next episode. Following mainstream news does not add joy or benefit our lives. It does not emotionally enrich us nor does it make us feel content or fulfilled.
If 60% of the world can LIVE their lives, from birth till death, without ever knowing what is going on 100, 1000, or 5000 miles away, then why can’t you and I. We really should focus more attention on the things that truly matter: ourselves, our family, our job, our friends, our possessions, nature, and our spirituality. If more of us did that, personal health and relationships would surely improve. Time and energy would be taken away from the negativity of the mainstream news and could be shifted to an almost endless list of positive endeavors and emotions.
For those 8 days and all the days that have followed, I haven’t participated in the mainstream news. My life continues to move forward with a much higher level of contentment and freedom. I do not feel like I’m missing out, or becoming less American, or worldly, or interesting.
For the last 18 days, I can honestly say, I’m a better human being.