The answer to why the Economy Isn’t Happening

Can I be serious for a moment?

I promise that this will be one of the only non-funny posts I ever make. But I do want to make it, because I’ve been thinking a lot about this site since I knew I’d be one of Chuck Westbrook’s featured blogs. I moved things around, added a blogroll, did some optimization, added some plug-ins to the blog software, stopped being Robert Goulet, etc. And as I was doing all of that, it hit me that I’ve never really addressed, in depth, my choice for the name of this site. After all, I could have called it anything.

I could have called it “Johnny Truant’s House of Idiocy.”

I could have called it “Funny Zone” or something similarly lame.

But no. I named it “The Economy Isn’t Happening.”

Not a lot of people ask about that. In fact, to date, only one person has asked about it. But have you wondered? If I just wanted to be funny, why use that cryptic phrase instead of something more clear?

Here’s the answer
I’ve been writing funny for years, and the archives of this site go back so far in time because I repurposed and revitalized essays from an old e-newsletter I used to send out. This site, in blog form, has only been around for a few months. It was started when the first bad news started to come out about the economy. And as I wrote more, the economy got worse. Banks closed. Major corporations closed. The market took a big dive. Then another. Then another.

I’m not going to lie; it scared the hell out of me. It still does.

But here’s the thing: It only scares me if I look at it. If I think about it. If I surf over to CNN to fill my head with some negativity. Because that’s what newsmedia does: It takes all of life and filters out all of the bad. Then it serves it up to you — with lots of flash and sensationalism and pizzaz — for your enjoyment.

I gave this site the name I did because I wanted to create a place where the war wasn’t happening. Where murders weren’t happening. Where the economy — that hideous, terrifying economy — wasn’t even happening. It doesn’t exist here. I thought there might be a lot of people who felt the same way I did — who, now more than ever, NEEDED to laugh and needed to forget for a while — and so far I’ve been right.

Life is to be enjoyed. We’re here to have fun, to smile, to make friends, to love, and to laugh. We’re not put on this planet to worry. To fret every detail. To be unable to sleep because of how hideous the world can appear to be. And note: that’s appear to be. Because no matter how things actually are, they’re not going to look good if you watch the news.

And that’s why I simply won’t watch the news.
I hate the news. I despise the news. I haven’t watched a news program other than election coverage in years. If my wife turns the news on, I leave the room and will not come back until it’s over. I make my son leave the room with me. We don’t get a newspaper. My roommates in college split a newspaper subscription and I didn’t chip in because I wouldn’t touch the damn thing. I try my best to avoid online news, even though online news has a way of finding you wherever you go on the Net. Every once in a while, I decide I want to check on the stock market at Yahoo Finance. And every single time, I leave feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut.

Because the bad news just won’t. Stop. Coming.

But the thing is, that “the world is falling apart” picture that you see on the news is not reality. That’s not reality at all. Is the world dark and dim? Is the sky falling? You’d think so on some days, but it’s not the truth.

The news is not reality.
Watch the news some day and write down everything they report. Other than weather, traffic, and sports, 90% of what’s reported is going to be negative. Now break it down and ask yourself if you’re being told the truth — the whole truth, as an accurate representation of reality. When you see the bad, weigh your emotional response and ask if it’s actually in proportion if you truly look at the facts in their entirety.

They tell you: Three people were murdered.
But they don’t remind you: In a city of 500,000, 499,997 people were NOT murdered.

They tell you: A house burned down, leaving a family homeless.
But they don’t remind you: 157,904 houses in the city did not burn down, and those families still have a home.

They tell you: The Dow slipped 400 points and massive layoffs are expected.
But they don’t remind you: The market is still strong and will recover. Most people have not and will not lose their jobs. The poorest people in western first-world nations like the US and Britain have standards of life better than all but the richest in other areas of the world. The vast, vast majority of even jobless people will have a roof over their heads nightly, and pretty much everyone will have food. Even the homeless don’t starve here.

It’s human nature to notice what is wrong, what could be dangerous. It’s part of what keeps us alive. But the news in all its forms exaggerates the negative, magnifies it, shows it to you over and over and over until you come to feel deep down that there is nothing else. It makes it worse, taking all of the objectively true things in the world and presenting mostly the ones that scare us, that make us worry.

It’s that “fear sells” axiom. Nobody buys a newspaper that proclaims, “PERFECT WEATHER!” but they can sell out the issue warning of a dangerous storm.

THE CHALLENGE
I’d like to issue you all a challenge: Try a news blackout for a week. Stop watching the news. Don’t read a newspaper. Unsubscribe to CNN bulletins by email. Unfollow news sources on Twitter. Don’t visit CNN, MSN, or any other news website. Don’t make Yahoo your homepage either, because there are news bulletins there. Change your homepage to another site. Google is okay. Or anywhere else that makes you feel neutral or, ideally, good.

Pretend that the economy isn’t happening. Pretend that war isn’t happening. Pretend that murders and rapes and joblessness and child abuse and famine aren’t happening. Just shut it out for a week. If you must have it back at the end of the week, go for it. But for a week, shut out the negative blast and see if you can start noticing good deeds, funny things, and beauty.

Question: Isn’t this apathy?
It would be, if we were shutting out reality. But we’re not shutting out reality; we’re shutting out the news. We’re turning off the RSS feed of “bad stuff” we subscribed to years ago. We’re consciously choosing to view life as it comes, as both positive and negative. You will see when something bad happens. But you will see the many good things that happen at around the same time, too.

There are soldiers at war. We’re not ignoring them. There are people all over in bad situations. We’re not neglecting them. Unless you move into a Unabomber shack, you’re going to hear about the world’s problems even if you are on a news fast, so don’t worry that you’ll be totally out of the loop. Believe me, I’ve been trying for YEARS to block it all out, and it’s not possible. I still know way more than I’d like to.

The difference is that now, you won’t be bombarding yourself with it. You won’t keep looking at it. And looking at it. And looking at it. You won’t be unable to appreciate something cute your kid is doing because you’re staring at war carnage on TV, taking it all in, scared and sick to your stomach.

Point: But ignoring it makes me irresponsible! It’s my duty to be informed.
The news doesn’t make you informed. It makes you paranoid. You think the news is “what’s going on in the world,” but that’s not the truth. The news isn’t what’s going on. It’s what’s going WRONG.

Is it your duty to be constantly worried, constantly fearful? Is it your duty to examine everything bad in minute detail? It it your duty to not smile, not laugh? Do you think you’re being disrespectful and inconsiderate to enjoy yourself when someone, somewhere, is suffering?

Do you think that by suffering as well, you’re helping them?

Do you think that by smiling, looking at the good, and laughing, you’re harming them?

Somewhere, outside of your sphere of influence, a man beat his wife today. If you obsess about it and feel bad, does your agony help her? Does it put him in jail?

Or are you just making the world a bit worse by doing nothing other than making one more person — yourself — feel bad?

Point: But by being informed, I’ll be motivated to act and do good things. And by sticking my head in the sand and ignoring the world, I’m tacitly allowing bad things to continue.
I’m not saying that if you see a mugging, you should ignore it and walk away. That would be irresponsible. You help where you can, where you’re able to. You work within your sphere of influence to make the world a better place. You assist, you give advice, you donate to charity.

What you don’t do is feel as if you have to solve every problem in the world by yourself. Think about it. That’s what news paranoia is all about. It’s about showing you things that you cannot affect and making you feel bad about them.

I absolutely love the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

YOU CANNOT CHANGE all of the woes of the world. So why are you making yourself sick over them?

In every moment, we have the choice of looking at the bad in the world or looking at the good. We can choose to cry at what’s wrong or laugh at what’s funny. Does the worry and depression that comes from people “informing themselves” help the world improve? Or, conversely, do we have a better shot at improving our lot when we’re upbeat and happy?

I’D LIKE TO START A MOVEMENT HERE.
I promise not to make this site all heavy. Honest. Like I said at the outset, there will be almost no serious posts like this one. I will stick to talking about farting and dumbness. But I would like you all to know that there is a method to my madness. I want you all to laugh — to laugh a lot. But not “just because.” We laugh because it is the natural state of a person to laugh and to have fun. This site is here as a foil against all of the stuff out there that tries daily to make you feel like hell. And there is a lot of that out there.

If you agree with me, add your comments on this post. Take my 1-week news blackout challenge, and then see how you feel and ask yourself if you want to extend it indefinitely. Then pass this link around (http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/bulletins-and-site-news/answer-economy-happening/) and encourage your friends to try it out.

I want to make this world laugh more. I want to make this world fear less. Behind the old Robert Goulet avatar and the dumb nerd humor, I actually feel like I have a purpose on this planet. I’d like to make it a little brighter, a little less focused on negativity.

Spread the word. Email this link (http://www.theeconomyisnthappening.com/blog/bulletins-and-site-news/answer-economy-happening/) to people you know; post it to your blogs and encourage your readers to pass it on; Tweet it on Twitter; share it on Facebook. Please Digg and Stumble this post, and ask others to do the same. Let’s see how many people we can reach. How many people we can get to pull their heads out of the news cyclone. Let’s make it a movement:

Laugh more.

Worry less.

I’ll change the “my philosophy” page to become the center of this movement if it looks like people are interested and on board. I’ll make some badges for websites, stuff like that. It will be the only serious place on the site. I’ll stick everything into that section. And in the rest of the site, I’ll stick to LOLruses and barf jokes as usual.

Does anyone feel the way I do? Or am I crazy?

Maybe it’s both.


Now that you've read this post, go here:
WHAT DEFINES YOU?

Comments

  1. lydia says:

    News junkie here, referred by Distracted by Shiny Objects in her latest post, who, after reading the comments before mine, is convinced they are 50 very cool people — but cooler than I?, the news junkie here, referred by Distracted by Shiny Objects in her latest post………….
    …….and now this.

  2. Ali says:

    Yes. I love it. I definitely agree. I always felt guilty (irresponsible, etc.) for not paying attention to the news and my mom would call me lazy, but it just made me feel crappy to hear about all the things going wrong in the world. Now I have your eloquent blog to forward to her and say “See! I’m not lazy, there are reasons why I do what I do!”

  3. Ali says:

    Yes. I love it. I definitely agree. I always felt guilty (irresponsible, etc.) for not paying attention to the news and my mom would call me lazy, but it just made me feel crappy to hear about all the things going wrong in the world. Now I have your eloquent blog to forward to her and say “See! I’m not lazy (or crazy), there are reasons why I do what I do!”

  4. Simrat says:

    Does public radio count? That is the only source of news I regularly listen to and then only in the car (truck really). My husband watches TV news and I also have to leave the room or just tune it out. For years now, it has made no sense to me at all, short snippets of shame and sensation. Oh, our local weatherman is good though!

    Since I’m coming to this late, your blog is getting moved to the ‘daily’ folder in my reader.

    I ended up tweeting about your post before I finished reading it. It’s an excellent one.

  5. Johnny Truant says:

    I’d vote that public radio is still news because they’ll break in regularly and tell you how someone shot someone and is on trial or whatever.

    BUT, when it all sorts out in the end, I’m a fan of news that makes you feel good. The challenge is that you can’t just turn on the news and watch it all waiting for a “good” story because then you have to watch all of the bad ones.

    Okay, everyone, I promise I won’t be serious very often. The post I made yesterday is back to funny. Hopefully.

  6. O-Steve says:

    Wait… You’re not Robert Goulet?

  7. Tim Brownson says:

    It’s quite apparent to me that you stole this idea from my post Mr Truant. I was the only person in the world that knew about all this and now I just feel dirty and cheap. I hope you’re ashamed of yourself and will consider sending me some money as recompense.

  8. Johnny Truant says:

    Hey, you really don’t want to get into a “who feels dirtier and cheaper” contest with me. Because it’s like, one of my great talents or something.

  9. Pam Belding says:

    I agree! I stopped watching the news regularly on 9/13/2001. I saw what it was doing to my sister (her husband is a fire fighter, but all the way in CA). She was a fuckin wreck!!!! I turned that shit off and haven’t turned it back on except to watch Obama kick ass!
    As for your moving, Congrats on the AWESOME attitude when it comes to your next adventure. I have moved more than 17 times (3 times out of the country) and I gotta say, Nothin beats a DO OVER!!!! Rock on and good luck packing!

    p.s. just curious……if you expect the worst, what is the best you can get?

  10. Pam Belding says:

    p.p.s. I’ve got people in North Carolina. If you need connections to cool people, let me know…..

  11. Johnny B. Truant says:

    I don’t know why I’m getting this sentiment that moving is a bad thing. BlueSteel in another post was expressing condolences, and you’re congratulating me on my attitude the way most people would congratulate a cancer patient for staying positive.

    I WANT to move. There is nothing motivating the move other than the desire to get the hell out of here. My job doesn’t require it, finances don’t require it… nothing. We just want to leave this stupid state.

    Actually, there’s nothing tying me here. Neither of us have jobs that require being close, neither of our kids are in school yet, neither of us has a social network (we see our “closest” friends maybe 4x/year), and really only our parents sort of bind us. But Robin’s parents are going to move when we do, and my mom is 3 hours away now by car. So it changes to 3 hours by car + plane… no difference!

    So can I move yet? It’s taking forever.

  12. @ncwinters says:

    So I made it here from the latest “audio post”…post and remembered both that you’ve gotten away from this concept and that I haven’t finished reading all your earliest posts. I heard once a phrase referring to the news: “I hate that show.” I laughed then and it has since become my motto. My wife and I still put it on every morning as we get ready for work, and I do find myself getting extremely worked up about it. Not necessarily about the negativity-dwelling and fear-mongering, (which I do get ramped up about) but also about how aware I’ve become about how much of a “show” it is. Fake sentiment with interviewees that have lost a loved one, leading a guest about their pain and trying to force an emotional response from a preteen about a tragedy for a “good show” is all I can see. My wife patiently reminds me that morning news is not even really about news but ratings and infotainment, but I’m realizing more and more that the show is driving me nuts.

    I like where the blog has been going, but would love to see more about this. So, you know, get on that for me. Remember- this blog is for MY entertainment, and don’t forget it. Preach on, brother.

  13. Johnny B. Truant says:

    Yeah, I toss a lot of lines in the water and see what happens. There’s also a Mad Libs post here that like one person answered, so I just never followed up. I found I couldn’t make my blog revolve too much around this. Plus, I didn’t make the Digg front page. Those fuckers.

  14. Johnny B. Truant says:

    P.S: As you’re seeing, I try to mix serious in with the funny. So you get a hodge-podge.

  15. Sean Oliver says:

    Media fasts have totally de-stressed me in the past, and I always recommend them to friends when the stress ramps up. Always worthwhile.

  16. Johnny B. Truant says:

    Ah, now I understand the tweet. You forgot the URL!

  17. @ncwinters says:

    For the record, *I* was the only one who did your MadLib. And I didn’t even get any candy or a prize. I could really go for some candy. How about old school Fun Dip? You know, the original Cherry, Grape and Lime, none of this blue raspberry sparkle that turns into banana yogurt curry bullshit. Damn kids nowadays. What?

  18. Darx says:

    I have been shunning the news since 1992. You’re right, it works. I should probably stop subscribing to the wife-beater version of email, though: the corporations-against-environment stuff that is like a train wreck to me. If you’ve got any advice for weaning oneself off Help Save the World emails and the false sense of security afforded by sending generic emails a couple times a month, I’m all ears.

  19. Johnny B. Truant says:

    Yeah, call me apathetic, but I’m getting tired of hearing how the Earth is going to explode soon. If it’s going to happen, can’t it happen while I’m sleeping and totally unaware?

  20. Rich says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more man! News is Shite! I haven’t watched it for years.

  21. I’m here from copy blogger. And oh how I can relate to this post. I LOVE YOUR PERSPECTIVE! Thank you.

  22. Johnny B. Truant says:

    Thank you! This is a prime example of what I was talking about on Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com/comment-addict), obviously… apparently, with a few notable exceptions above, a lot of people feel this way. Yet we’re sort of told that if we don’t pay attention, it’s apathy. Bullshit!

  23. Andy Turner says:

    BBC & Times Website bookmarks GONE !!

  24. I don’t watch news on t.v. or read the paper, because that’s all government propaganda. Police brutality, more intrusive government, fewer rights, and more fiat money is always supported on the nightly news.

    The sky is falling on the economy. That’s a fact. Obama’s administration is raiding the treasury like it’s never been raided before. In five years, dollars may be blowing in the streets. They’ll be worthless.

    In this area the press is overly optimistic. The economy can’t recover without sound currency.

    “499,997 people were NOT murdered” is NOT NEWS. It’s not newsworthy. A murder taking place or a murder being stopped in progress is newsworthy. The status quo is not.

    If you want human interest stories, watch Oprah. The news is not too negative. But it is heavily slanted toward fascism.

  25. Irene Duma says:

    I held a 2 year moratorium on the media once – no newspapers, film, tv, magazines, novels – though I did slip in some non-fiction books.

    The news, like you say, is always bad news. Alice Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child) believes we aren’t meant to absorb all the bad news in the world. Our own family or “tribe” produces enough grief for us to handle.

    Novels, film, TV are full of cultural ideals, values, and “morality.” Who’s good, who’s hot, who’s evil, who’s the hero, who’s right and wrong, who’s the enemy, who’s a slut, or who’s a lazy bum and should be punished. They “teach” us how we are expected to behave in order to find approval, reward, success in our community and society. They teach us how to be good girls and boys.

    I wanted to stop shaping myself to fit the “ideal.” I just wanted to be me. Whatever that was. Still working on that.

    It’s amazing how much news you can absorb just by walking by Newspaper boxes and reading the headlines. I didn’t feel out of touch.

    I still won’t watch TV news, read the paper sparingly, but will watch a film or a comedy TV series now and then. Nothing like good ol’ satire or comedy to show us what a funny lot we all are.

  26. Johnny B. Truant says:

    I’m amazed and pleased at how many people share this philosophy. I have enough drama in my life to deal with. Why should I pile the problems of people half a world away on my shoulders too, without the counterbalancing stories of the good things going on?

  27. JamesF says:

    Nice article here, Johnny. I haven’t read or watched the news for ages too. Just some sports stuff, and not sport related. Just who won, who lost, that kind of news.

    I thinks its part of the news networks marketing tool. People will watch more when they’re afraid and on their toes to whatever tragedy comes up next. Look at Michael Jackson as an example. He wasn’t in the news for years but when he died, he was everywhere.

  28. Felicia Fredlund says:

    I haven’t bothered following the news closely since I was about 14-15 years old (am now 20), but I stopped due to laziness. The text in newspapers are boring, not the news themselves necessarily. I just couldn’t bother to take an hour or so per day to keep up. So I stopped. And I’ll watch the news once in a blue moon, or read one article from the culture part of the paper, otherwise I still can’t be bothered, because it doesn’t benefit me.

    Here’s to ignoring news! *holds up not-existing glas of Coca Cola (or other soda)*

  29. Steven C. says:

    I was reading news before going to work, then I realized one day that it was only about negative stuff, and things I couldn’t change. From this day I decided to read books instead, that gets me more motivated and at least I learn something useful. I wish we could have a good newspaper published one day. Anyway I stumbled your post

  30. Johnny says:

    Exactly, thank you. It’s not apathy; it’s selective listening. If there was a totally, totally, impartial news that accurately reflected life, maybe I’d watch it.

  31. Emily Rose says:

    I think my news fast has been going on for a decade now, and I still know whats going on in the world, because i hear about it on social sites, sidebar ads on yahoo, people, family and friends talking about it and occasionally I have to watch it when i visit someones house and they are watching it and I don’t want to be rude.

    News makes me depressed and being that I am already predisposed to depression I remove myself from the situation. I think everyone should take this challenge!!

  32. James Alexander says:

    Thank you for this article. After reading this, I feel more motivated to get on with my life. Starting tomorrow, I will be on a news fast until October 8, which is a full-month period. I won’t stop there, but if everything goes well I may be able to keep that junk out of my life forever.

    I’m going to stop visiting sites like Boomberg, DailyFX, and Seeking Alpha, and I’m cutting the TV news out as well, especially stock market channels such as CNBC.

    I’ve been actively watching the USD and commodities, and even after what went on with the first-ever US credit downgrade by S&P, the dollar has been rallying and energy prices have been going down. A noteworthy mention is that unemployment is only 9.1% instead of the much-feared 10% The DOW, S&P, and NASDAQ are still doing pretty well. Hell, back in 2008, if I had a news fast up until now I’d probably be cheering some of the current news right now and go back to not watching the news again. It’s like I’ve been wasting years of my life following this crap.

    I know this article has been around for about a couple of years, but I’m glad I came across it. I will be participating in the news fast and I hope that this gets me to quit the news forever. Whatever I hear from word of mouth is good enough for me.

    I’ll make a post a month from now and let you all know how I’ve done.

    “Live long and prosper.”

    • Johnny says:

      Love it.

      I have a friend who is in the financial industry, so it’s his job to watch financial markets ALL DAY LONG. During the worst of the tumult, I remember thinking that I’d hate to be him. He couldn’t completely forget about it like I could.

      We’ve since ditched broadcast TV and cable and only stream stuff through our Roku… mainly Netflix and Hulu. So, no news. I don’t read newspapers or news magazines or visit news websites, and it’s great. The other day, someone told me about this huge news story (I’ve already forgotten what it was) and was aghast that I didn’t know about it. I basically went, “Huh” and went on with my life. Strangely, my ignorance about it hadn’t made any difference.

      • James Alexander says:

        All day long? Sucks to him him for sure. I can relate, because I’ve been doing that for four years now. It’s absolutely miserable to watch tick for tick on stocks, commodities and currencies, hoping that some disaster doesn’t strike to ruin the economy. It’s a great way to lose a lot of sleep (and sanity).

        It’s VERY unhealthy. So glad I’m doing this.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to my tendency to forget all about things, I realized recently that I issued a news challenge to all of you like a month ago but never followed up to see how people were doing. So you’re [...]

  2. [...] You also seem to like it when I talk about things that aren’t funny What the hell is that about? This is supposed to be a funny site. What are you, a bunch of gay [...]

  3. [...] They know me as a guy who’s a bit off the wall. They know me as an irresponsible dickhead who refuses to watch the news. For a while, they knew me as Robert Goulet. What those people don’t know me as — and this is a [...]

  4. [...] This post follows my controversial yet totally correct post about why the news blows monkey ass. You may want to check that out if you’re [...]