Too Much Information

MEDITATING ON DISTRACTION

When I was in high school, teachers emphasized the need to be “well informed,” to read newspapers—that was essential to being a good citizen.

I didn’t need to be pushed in that direction. From the moment I could read, I began the day by poring over our very bad local newspaper, from the front page news about the war in Korea to the comics page and Alley Oop (more interesting than the war).

I haven’t stopped. Every morning I pick up the New York Times, do the crossword puzzle, and then read the whole damn thing. I also listen to the news on National Public Radio and visit several Web sites, and I am beginning to think I’m nuts.

Where newspapers are concerned, I am part of a shrinking crowd. It isn’t news that newspapers have lost ground to the Internet. No doubt it’s my age, but I don’t like to spend much time reading from a computer screen (though a friend predicts that I will own an Amazon Kindle within six months). The loss of newspaper readership may be traced to general indifference rather than to competition from the Internet, and to the feeling that we get enough news from the casual information provided by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or, God help us, from Twitter.

But I really can’t feel superior to those who spend time hooked to their Blackberries or...

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About the Author

John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.