Yesterday the cable guy came and took away my cable box. There is no antenna, so I don't receive the few state-run stations without cable. I've decided to watch only videos and DVDs, using my TV as a monitor. Even the best TV serials are available on DVDs these days, admittedly a little late, but no later than they're broadcast on Israeli TV anyhow. But what about the news?
Well, I get the headlines continuously on my computer's Internet (someone amusingly described an immigrant relative referring to the Internet as "the Clickonit"). And my Hebrew has never been good enough to follow the Israeli commentators' analyses, so I'm stuck with the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz in English, which are also available on my computer. As are the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, most other newspapers of record and most of the magazines I subscribe to. I live near a major thoroughfare, so a series of sirens wailing tells me that there's been a terrorist attack on Tel Aviv. I always call my local friends to see whether they're OK in that instance, no matter where in the city the bombing occurred. The scuds from the first Gulf War were visible and audible from my apartment, so TV was redundant.
When I was in ulpan (total immersion Hebrew school) in 1988, 1989, and again in 1992, the teachers all made the mistake of trying to motivate me to read by saying "You need to read the Israeli newspapers." As far as I could tell, the Israeli newspapers carried mostly news I did not need to read in Hebrew, and I didn't get motivated. If any of them had said "You need to be able to read Yehuda Amichai's poems in the original," or "Amos Oz writes the most beautiful Hebrew," I might have pushed myself a little more. And may still.
About 10 years ago I put myself on a major stress management campaign. It occurred to me (finally) that I had undertaken a big life change and needed every resource possible to make a go of it. I tried yoga, biofeedback, tai chi, talk therapy, even acupuncture. The acupuncturist was the best: he advised walking, and when I didn't comply, he practically ordered me, with an irresistible twinkle in his eye, to get a dog! It turned out to be the best stress-manager for me.
But things seem to have gotten worse everywhere since then. Or maybe my awareness has grown more acute. Mainstream news coverage screams at me, with disasters on every page. I need to turn down the volume, so I've cancelled my TV. With blogs I can get both ground-level and pundit-level news reviews 24/7. More than enough for me. Am I cocooning or am I doing a 21st century thing? Or both?
Going off to take the dog for a walk now.