Saturated by Fat and TV News? Get Simple!
What do fat/sugar/salt foods and TV news hysteria have in common?
AFTER TWELVE steady days of back-breaking work at the family homestead in Washington, I sit at the airport ready to return to California. The plane is delayed. I have extra time for wandering thoughts, glancing at my neighbor’s magazine and people watching.
Many very overweight people walk by. Some are young women with big bellies, something rarely seen twenty years ago. Most are middle aged people; it’s a rare sight to see someone of this age slim.
What’s happened? I’ll consider that in a moment…
Behind me is a bank of TV’s suspended from the ceiling. Some cable 24/7 news show is on. It’s interesting to hear it without watching the show. When just listening, the focus becomes more attuned to the sounds undiluted by images. I note the voice undulations and exaggerated emphasis in the voices of the TV personalities performed to draw the audience in and induce a reaction. Topics are introduced with indignation, surprise, incredulity, and then a contrary view is conjured.
TV news has become the turf for pitched battles between opposing teams that compete for our entertainment. 24/7.
Now back to over-sized people and my consideration of how this and TV news and other programming are all threads comprising a similar ball of yarn. When you unwind either, what’s at the core are methods designed to intoxicate and stimulate. What’s absent is erudition and exposition. The result is that we’ve become intoxicated with the stimulation of the most vulnerable, easily stimulated senses.
In the case of food, the Salt/Sugar/Fat trilogy is the intoxicating recipe to give a fast jolt (yeah, add caffeine to the mix) of brain-soothing dopamine neurotransmitters. It’s a heaping of short-run pleasure. In the case of TV programming, this plays to the primal instincts of tribalism — us against them — rather than a search for commonalities and consensus. Modern “food” and media are essentially forms of entertainment; the kind that play to instinctive, but base, attitudes and senses.
When I was in high school, there were about three people among four grade levels that were overweight sufficiently to be so identified. Now one of three kids is overweight, and childhood diabetes is on its way to becoming an epidemic.
When I was in high school, TV news reported the facts in an unbiased and un-sensationalized fashion (aka Walter Cronkite). Now it’s so sensationalized and polarizing that programs and stories are purposely constructed to offer a point of view that would not result from an even examination of the facts.
(“Fair and Balanced”? — Bullsh_t!)
And we clamor for it, as if we need the spike of indignation, the affirmation of our membership in a particular tribe in opposition to another (Republican vs Democrat, vegetarian vs carnivore, MSNBC vs Fox, Prius vs Hummer, etc.)
So, here now I sit in my Virgin America airplane seat, and observe that most every drink being served is soda, despite how horrible it is for one’s health (One Soda, 60 Minutes of Harm), and that most every snack is wheat-based, richly containing the Salt/Sugar/Fat trilogy. And as everyone munches away, in front of each of them is a small monitor installed in the back of each seat where cop shows and news shows play out their respective dramas, along with Dr. Phil. (He’s on one row up to the left.)
What we need, I think, is to reduce our choices. Turn away from all the processing – whether it be our news or “food”. Return to simpler food (the less ingredients, the better) that looks closer to how it grows in nature, and to simpler TV programming, meaning here that when information is presented without the spin, varnish and garnish concocted to spike your indignation, disconnection, tribalism.
If we get simpler, perhaps our brains and bodies will get a rest and get healthier.
An apple and newspaper, anyone?
P.S. Watch Dr. Ann Kutze’s make suggestions about cheap, healthy eating.