Is This Thing On? #2

Dear Editor,

Re: Is This Thing On? Nov. 4th, 2019. We at the Real World Institute take issue with the suggestion that well-being is fostered by turning off our televisions, radios and phones. Your writer wrote his piece prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Does he maintain his point of view today? If so, this is irresponsible. How is our well-being improved by avoiding media coverage of a health crisis? Plus, if we turned off our media, we would lose track of Jennifer Aniston.


Pasquale O’Roarke. President, Real World Institute. Sweden.


Dear Mr. O’Roarke,

Thank you for your question. I would first assure you that you will never lose track of Jennifer Aniston. Her publicists have developed a technology to keep us informed that does not rely on transmission via media. You are now able to learn if Jen is wearing bright orange cargo pants again by simply going to sleep. That’s right. Jennifer Aniston news has been made available in your dreams. You need a paid subscription, but with that you receive a moisturizing travel kit.

As to your question, I do indeed maintain my point of view. Your objection appears to be based on a misreading of the following excerpt from my Nov. 4th, 2019 column:

“A simple but incomplete answer is turn off your television. The radio, too. You don’t need to stay informed of things that mess with your happiness and are going to happen anyway. Turn off your damn phone, too. It’s a phone, not your friend!”

Please note the wording: a simple but incomplete answer. It is a simple thing to unplug from media. However, I did not suggest that you do so before you have acquired information that you need to survive.

The good news is that you have had that information for a while. Apart from the helpful guidance you already possess, like never use your tongue as a can opener, the measures we must take to avoid contracting COVID-19 have been relayed via the daily news cycle for months. They haven’t changed in a significant way.

I did not suggest unplugging forever. Do check in with the news cycle for updates. But you don’t need to that every two hours. Or even every two days.  

That was the incomplete part of simple but incomplete. Regrettably, “simple but incomplete” also appears on my driver’s license. In bold. All caps. Like that’s a problem or something.

Rest assured that if a reliable vaccine is created or a cure is found for COVID-19, you’ll hear about it. It will be covered like it’s the Second Coming of Christ at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show.

Meanwhile, if employees of the Real World Institute have been declared essential and must work among the public, what additional reminders of the virus threat do they need? They have even more reason to unplug. If they must plug in, there are cat videos. So many cat videos.

My point, as poorly expressed as it may have been, is that your diet need not include daily booster shots to your stress levels. Focus instead on what you can control; how you feel. Don’t let the news do that for you. That’s your job. You can feel fine if you want to. That is well-being; choosing your mood for yourself, by yourself. That’s not how men should shop for clothes, by the way. Never. That’s good information to have, too.

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