Question My friends think I’m an idiot because I never know what’s going on in the news – but that’s only because I don’t give a flip about what’s happening in the world. Especially the negative things. So I stick to news happening around me. What’s the big deal right Jack? Just call me “No News Nick”. Answer Nick, there is nothing wrong with you. I, as a person who wastes too much time reading ‘news’, am actually quite envious of you. There are two parts to your issue. First, the news itself. Second, whether you are required to care. So, the news. From what I can tell, there aren’t hugely important stories in the news with any great regularity, or not nearly as many as media outlets, which have a financial interest in you paying attention to whatever they’re pumping 24-7, would have you believe. Every time I go to the gym CNN is on, and every time the headline is screaming about breaking news and some floating trash in the Indian Ocean. Was an airplane disappearing news? Sure. Is the Ukraine news? Ok. Is it required for you to be a thoughtful individual to know the minutiae of Vladimir Putin’s hockey skills? Of course not. The glut of superfluous information that is out there for public consumption presented as ‘news’ is absurd. The fact that what constitutes ‘news’ is up for debate is an indication that there is a ton of stuff out there that probably is not. I am firmly of the belief, except for world- shattering events, that the majority of ‘news’ is gossip and conjecture pushed by people to make them feel informed and give them something to flap gums about. Second, you are allowed to have, or not have, any interests or hobbies you deem fit, and you really shouldn’t stand for being called an idiot because your hobbies don’t gibe with your friends’. If you don’t know who Barack Obama is, and you are a happy person, what difference does it make? Is it worth keeping up with a bunch of stuff you don’t care about, that apparently doesn’t effect you, to make it so your friends can’t lord the fact that they watch or read the news over you? That is nonsensical. Ernest Hemingway has a great short story called The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio about some characters recovering in a hospital. One of the characters says that religion is the opium of the people. So Frazer, the lead character, is lying in bed recovering pondering this when he realizes, maybe religion is an opium of the people, but so is drink, the radio, bread, education, and on and on and on. The way I look at it is this, Hemingway isn’t criticizing bread, what he is pointing out is we all have our own lives, and anything we do to make our lives better, get along more smoothly, deal with the good and the bad, that is your opium. Interests to add meaning can be opium. That is your choice. Religion or sports or the news aren’t bad per se, but it is a personal preference and just because someone says it’s important, that doesn’t make it true for you. Is it okay you don’t follow the news? Of course, and don’t let yourself be browbeaten by a bunch of people who do. Just be happy with what you got going. And if they start talking to you about a topic you aren’t interested in or have no knowledge of, just change the subject to something you do. If they aren’t interested in your opium, and you continue to be disinterested in theirs, just turn your barstool to the other side, and say hi to someone new. South Florida, you bright boys right? Well even bright boys have problems, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will almost certainly in print.