George Gives In

by j.b. sweetser

   George just turned seventy. Times were changing. Once, he had loved his daily life. He had watched TV in the evenings; CBS, ABC, NBC, Dick Van Dyke, The Beverly Hillbillies, Carol Burnett - oh, how he loved Carol Burnett, then Cheers and Magnum P.I. He rehashed them the next day with his co-workers, laughing at the water cooler.  

 

   He waited for the daily newspaper and the evening news, Walter Cronkite was his favorite, always objective, with his authoritative voice making you feel all was under control. His friends all heard the same news and they discussed it, often vehemently disagreeing, but ending up having a beer together. 


   Over the past few years he stopped leisurely reading newspapers with his morning coffee and began 'consuming media'. The information came constantly, by the hour, the minute, the nanosecond.  It was unceasing; the breaking news, the fake news, the commentary, the sheer volume of it like a barrage, rat-a-tat-tat, machine gun pellets of ever increasing urgency, endless, dire, would he get through another day, could he cope with the sheer weight of it all? 


   He resisted at first, then soaked up this daily deluge like a sponge; this information unencumbered by verification or confirmation, the truth irrelevant.  The excruciating cinema verité of close-up, live coverage of every event, recorded by armies of smartphones, jumpy images screaming their authenticity, no polishing, no editing, no vetting, everything regurgitated, pure and raw as it happens, a full-frontal onslaught.


   Was it right, was it wrong - did it matter?  He said, she said.  Liar, liar, liar! 


   Far from bothered, he now loved the fire!