Culture

All those bookcases in the background

I stopped watching the news a few years back. I had reached a toxic saturation point. Let me reframe. Most news channels just offer opinion these days. I’m surrounded by many opinionated people and didn’t need to subject myself to more of that. However, now that Covid-19 is here and I’m part of the healthcare industry, I feel obligated to watch the news again. I take notes and formulate strategies. I’m exhausted by it all. Just like everyone else. For a few seconds, I may feel paralyzed and then I jumpstart myself back into the fray. I have no idea whether the decisions I’m making are the right ones. I suppose no one does at the moment.

With all that said, I can’t help but be amused as I watch the news. Many of the news channels are filling hour upon hour with interviews with a full range of experts. Some more expert than others. Because of social distancing, the interviews cannot occur on the set. They must be remote. Most of the interviewees are talking from their home offices. And lo and behold, almost uniformly they have bookcases in back of them. Most have a lot of books on their cases with well placed family photographs. Yet, we all know that books had been increasingly replaced by digital formats.

I can’t help but wonder whether some of those books were express shipped recently or dusted off and brought up from the basement. In my house, every room has a bookshelf. We have way too many books for that matter. And we keep moving them cross-country. Admittedly, however, I stopped reading them the last few years. I love books. I love the feel and the smell. I just have found myself with less and less time to read. I imagine this is true of thousands upon millions of people. And, probably true of those being interviewed on the news channels day in and day out. However, they are obviously trying to convey a particular image. Maybe expertise and being well-read will come back in vogue as a result of coronavirus. There’s always a silver streak.

As for me, I have appeared on some coronavirus expert panels that have been part of Facebook live and do forth. I did not have my bookshelf in back if me. Instead, I had very distinct artwork. I collect art. And, some in my family are artists. This, I showcased that and one of the hosts commented on my artwork. I guess I stood apart from the book people. Good to know.

8 replies »

  1. Most news channels, just for show. It is worse now, for the rating’s grab. I get most of my news by reading articles online (even that I take with a grain of salt). Oh, the TV news is way too opinionated. Agreed.

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  2. There isn’t enough new news to justify the coverage but I guess it pulls in ratings. Every day you hear the same thing only a little worse than yesterday. Since I’m hiding out at home, none of it makes any difference to me.

    Mostly I’m listening just in case something new happens. A drug or vaccine showing success in a trial would be interesting or a documentary about prior pandemics or some virology for fun. I’d like to hear more stories of the experiences of people who caught it and recovered so I’d know what to expect.

    I don’t need an hour of talking heads saying the same thing over and over. Or people pronouncing their opinions, subject to the change without notice. There is nothing Fred can do but keep his head down and his sanity up.

    We can hope we emerge stronger from this. Not be dependent on foreign sources for critical supplies that are easily cut off. Actually have a strategic reserve adequate to handle a big crisis, not just odds and ends in storage past their expiry dates. Maybe we’ll open new frontiers in virology. More respect for the importance of public health.

    I’m not counting on it.

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