Keeping Them in the Dark?

I’m a worrier by nature.  Can’t help it.  Always have been.  So deal with it… I know I have to and so does everyone around me.  As a kid growing up, I remember every time Peter Jennings broke into Happy Days with a “Special News Bulletin” I was sure it was due to imminent Armageddon.  The Soviets were surely pointing nukes our way or maybe Aliens had just blown up Tokyo, London and New York.

When the Shorties came along, I didn’t want them to experience the shroud of worry that hung around my youth.  So I thought it was better to just keep the bad news from them.  No need to have CNN on in the background, lets just keep things light and airy.  Now they are venturing into the world and there are more and more people around them, introducing, sharing and growing their circle of influence.  Not to mention the fact that they are wildly unprepared for the millions of scary things that could befall them on any given day.  It never occurred to me that I would one day need to warn them of the dangers that could befall us at any moment.

I remember the day #1 came home from Kindergarten and told me about all the various drills they learned at school.  The usual – fire drill (“We all line up and go outside.  We DON’T run!”), earthquake (“We make turtles and cover our heads with our hands” and finally the Code Red.  “What’s that?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s when we close all the blinds and the teacher locks the door and turns off the lights and we have to be quiet.”

I nearly fainted from the grave reality of what a Code Red actually was.  This is what it is to be a kid in 2014.

That was the day that I realized that I had done a shitty job of preparing my kid for just how scary and messed up this world really is.  Now what do I do?

We had a friend over for dinner the other night and he was recounting the story of having the news on and his son hearing about a rather horrific murder/ suicide involving a dad and his two kids.  Our friend M was so upset asking how do you help a kid un-hear something like that?  You can’t erase that kind of information.  It imbeds into kids and becomes part of their psyche.  Or it rolls in one ear and out the other leaving no impression at all?  Tough to know what will stick but you never know and who wants to play Russian Roulette with which scary stories will live with them forever.

Its a fine line of keeping their optimism alive in hopes they can carry the future out of the constant brink of calamity that we seem to live in.  But at the same time teaching them street smarts so they can stay safe.  I don’t know what the answer is, other than to just do our best.  Its all we can do really.

PS – I realize that this topic is a departure from all the travel, fashion and nonsense I usually write about.  But its my blog, so I can do whatever I want, right?



All the News That’s Fit to… Wait. What?

Don’t get weird, but I’m about to pull out the soapbox.  Are you ready for it?

What the hell is happening to the news?  I know this is not a new complaint as the past few weeks have been a perfect example of the stupidity that the 24 hour news cycle breeds. CNN has been on a loop about this lost plane, positing theories from terrorism to aliens as explanations to the unexplainable.  Oscillating blame from the pilots to real bad guys to simple mechanical failure.  No one really knows what happened, so lets create hours and hours of television and let everyone just guess.  Who cares if they contradict one another or even themselves.  Just keep guessing – that’s what news has become.

When was it that journalism got so sloppy?  Gone are the days of the hardcore editor sitting behind his desk, cigar stub hanging from his lips, yelling at the junior reporter; “But its not news kid!”  “Can you PROVE it?”  That guy must be rolling in his grave when he reads the headlines these days.  News is no longer based in just the facts, editorial has seeped into the mainstream news and opinion seems to be the default proof when the hard facts prove to be too elusive.

I know, I know.  Its not a recent problem – its been going on for a long time now.  And to be honest its bothered me for a long time.  But today just seemed to be the day that it broke me.  Scrolling through my news pages and twitter feed today I was struck by the posts by Christiane Amanpour reporting on the state of play in Crimea when right in the middle of all this REAL news there’s a post about a fight between Russia and the Ukraine being about who invented the recipe for Chicken Kiev.  I kid you not.  WTF is that all about?  Christiane?  Is that you?  Did you hire US Airways social media department to run your Twitter account?  Come on!  Of all the real true journalists left in this world, how can you mention the expulsion of the Crimean leader in one post and then a f%^&ing recipe in the next???

Christiane Amanpour tweets about Chicken Kiev and the crisis in the Ukraine.

Christiane Amanpour tweets about Chicken Kiev and the crisis in the Ukraine.

The next thing that got me today was an article in The Globe & Mail.  For decades, the Globe has been a pillar of Canadian print media.  This has been a credible national daily newspaper.  But lately they seem to be fixated on a potential real estate bubble happening in the Canadian housing market.  Weekly and sometimes daily for the past few months they have been the harbinger of doom for the Canadian real estate market and who knows – they could be right – but today’s article absolutely took the cake.  Today they published an article about a possible exploding bubble that could see a reduction in home prices of as much as 25% within a year.  Included in the article was a calculator so you could see just how much money you would lose if your house was to lose 25% of its value.  Filled with disclaimers, they included this calculator on their iPhone app.  To be fair it also allowed you to slide the scale of the percentage from the potential 25% loss to a possible 25% gain.   But still – HOW IS THIS NEWS?  By offering the quick click through to a calculator which defaults to the doom and gloom of a 25% loss in value seems to only perpetuate fear on something based in speculation and not fact.  Furthermore, isn’t the housing market based on speculation so if you continue to propose that there is a housing bubble about to burst and spoon feed this to the masses will this not become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I work with the media so much and while some writers are great and actually check their facts, most rely on Wikipedia to check for accuracy.  Wikipedia?  Are you kidding me?  Granted, I work in entertainment and getting someone’s first album title correct is not a matter of life or death.  But these are the simple things that should be done right. Perhaps this is a symptom of our voracious need for news and information.  We crave it.  We breathe it.  We literally hold it in the palms of hands all the time.  We need news and we need it faster than ever.  There isn’t time to make sure that the news that’s coming out of our “trusted” sources is accurate or even good information.  Its just information that we are clambering after at an alarming pace.  I guess I have to blame myself for needing to read 20 news apps every morning and expect new and different information with each one.  Can I really complain when Christiane Amanpour has to fill column space with recipes?