in the early-mid aughts when i ran distorted perspective as a political (read: anti-war) blog, i had a habit of bookmarking stories to post about. just whatever horrific reports were coming out of iraq or afghanistan & the inevitably ghoulish response from the white house. i did this as a hobby that i also considered some kind of necessity, providing evidence of how fucked everything was in the war efforts. over time, though, it became emotionally exhausting; increasingly, none of these stories had any conclusion. the war went on, crimes exposed, nothing changed.
these days it’s about 100x easier to find one horrific story or another about the state of the nation. with how the internet has grown exponentially since 2005, there are any number of diy journalists writing about one tragedy to the next. exposing a crack in the foundation, leading to just more of the same: tragic stories with no conclusion.
when people talk about doomscrolling, they might say it has to do with a never-ending news feed of dreadful headlines, but i think it has to do with the lack of endings. the government has always been corrupt. the police have always been violent. there’s more readily-available evidence now, but there’s also a complete lack of reform. all of these horrific stories just continue & compound on themselves. there’s no end in sight.
the culture of the critic seems to have taken hold, to which journalists find themselves pointing out problems but never following through on the work to hold authority accountable. we’re left with a growing list of horror stories that just exist for a moment as one more reason for despair, never to be heard from again. i can’t remember 90% of the shit i’ve read over the past few years that has given me the anxiety i have now, but i sure as fuck feel that.
when i say journalism has died, this is why. the very basic idea of following a story until its conclusion has been abandoned—partly due to technology & partly due to how we’ve used it in developing a culture of instant gratification & attention deficit. all i know is i read three headlines this morning that were not adjacent to any major happening in the world, all of which depressed me & none of which i expect to remember by this afternoon. yet their presence in my morning could affect my mood all day. the only solution to what ails this society would be to bury my head in the sand, and it’s increasingly difficult to not see that as an appealing choice.