Sunday, May 21, 2017

Life moves pretty fast.

Alan9187 | Pixabay CC0
Did ya miss me?

You all know how reliable I am. If I'm going to take a week off, I always tell you. Right? But for the past two Sundays, I've been a lousy correspondent. Last Sunday, I was out of town (and very busy the day before, putting the finishing touches on the first draft of Maggie on the Cusp). But I have no excuse for missing the May 7th post. It just...happened.

I guess I could blame fatigue. I had plenty to be tired about: I'd won Camp NaNoWriMo the previous weekend, and was also finishing a shawl. We've had plenty of weird weather -- some days as hot as July, some as cold as March -- and the air conditioning in our apartment building has often been broken on the hot days. And for some inexplicable reason, I decided to sign up for Irish lessons -- the language, that is -- and the first class was May 4th.

But there's also been this thing going on down the street from my day job. Stories have been coming out of the White House thick and fast since Inauguration Day, but lately the pace has sped up, with new revelations hourly. It's hard to keep up -- even for someone like me, who used to make a living by keeping an eye on dispatches from two wire services at once.

In the midst of this week's tsunami of revelations, the Washington Post ran a story called "Trump is mirroring Nixon's final days." That headline pulled me up short. See, I remember Watergate. The congressional hearings occurred while I was in high school; some teachers had TVs in their classrooms and would watch the proceedings between classes.

Here's the thing: The Watergate break-in occurred on June 17th, 1972, and President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. That's a span of about two years. (Wikipedia has a timeline of events leading up to Nixon's resignation.) Compare that with the timeline for President Trump's troubles: It's been barely a year since the Democratic National Committee announced its server had been hacked and the job pinned on Russian intelligence sources. (Journalist Bill Moyers is keeping a timeline of events relating to Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.) And Trump is already mirroring Nixon's final days?

Part of the difference, of course, is the style of the two men. But another part of it is the speed at which news is disseminated today. Back in the '70s, newspapers and television news operations each had only one deadline per day. Cable news wasn't a factor -- CNN didn't go on the air until 1980. If you had a scoop, you had to wait hours before you could get it out to the public (and hope nobody stole it from you in the meantime).

Contrast that to today, when cable news is on 24/7 and newspapers release stories online at all hours of the day and night. Journalists can begin building on each other's scoops within minutes, and can release new details immediately -- and we mere mortals viewing the news on our smartphones can share them seconds later.

The danger is that we may all burn out. Lately I have my phone in my hand almost constantly, and I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing. And it's going to get worse before it gets better; the special counsel is just beginning his investigation.

Maybe this is a good time to recall the immortal words of Ferris Bueller.

Thanks, Ferris. I promise to put down my phone and look around once in a while.

These moments of speedy blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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