Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Sick of the News? Turn Off the T.V. and Take Action, Says This Gay Dad

Erik Alexander, a resident of Hurricane-prone New Orleans, is used to media spin. But he's getting tired of protecting his kids from it.

BSA Photography

"They grow up so fast!" I often heard that cliché when I was growing up. It was like a knee-jerk response to people's comments about us, and my mom said it all the time. But, as it turns out, that cliché is soooo true. So savor every single — good or bad — and enjoy this precious time together. Be happy and make them laugh. Guard them. Shelter them. Protect them from the difficult realities of the outside world while you can. And in this day and age, keep yourself together. Don't let the stresses of everyday life get you down, especially in front of them. I say all of this so maybe I can do a better job of applying these things to my own life.

It is so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of the world's social and political drama. We want to protect our babies from everything. So does that mean we have to be glued to Rachel Maddow & Anderson Cooper every night? The thing is, our news media is not what it used to be. Back in the day, our news was held to much higher standards. There were more facts and less spin. Another striking difference is that news outlets weren't constantly seeking to sensationalize the stories they were covering.


Cable news networks rely on ratings to rake in revenue. Stories like "Boy scout helps fallen senior citizen" don't make headlines, largely because that doesn't bring in ratings. As such, that story is bumped all the way to the end of the broadcast. In fact, most national news programs now feature a single, token positive story at the end of the show. The body of news programs has become saturated with stories that play on our fears, weaknesses, and emotions. They want our anger, outrage, and disgust. But don't get me wrong, we need to be outraged at times. And at this particular time I am outraged.

I didn't like the direction our country was going in 2016 because I was afraid, quite frankly at where we would be today. Sure, because of his poor tact and judgment the President seems to divide our country more than bringing us all together. Race, religion, sexual orientation--all these things affect us and are being used to divide us. The media takes hold of these tweets and tirades and run them nonstop on their networks. What do you think the President would do if all of a sudden no news network reported about his tweets anymore. Would he stop? Probably not, but it makes you wonder.

Recently here in New Orleans, we recently experienced our first "hurricane" of the season, Hurricane Barry (or "Hurricane Barely" as we locals called it). All the national news outlets flooded into our city. Even The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore came to report. The utter misrepresentation of facts that were spun into news headlines not only freaked locals out, but people around the world thought New Orleans was decimated again. When it was all said and done, HARDLY ANYTHING HAPPENED. Yet it seemed like every hour some news outlet would report a bogus headline purporting disaster and ruin. And for what? To march in here, look around, cause chaos and then leave? Are ratings that important? Of course they are!

If a hurricane is coming then of course we need for the news to report on it and keep us informed. But what we don't need is the media trying to scare the hell out of everyone with bullshit stories like "levees weeping, may crumble."

BSA Photography

For those that didn't know, the Mississippi River in New Orleans was at flood stage for many months.

In fact, this was the first time in history that a Hurricane formed during flood stage. The levees held back the river water for a long time- so long that water began to seep (weep) in different spots along the levee system. Though, not designed to seep, many levees do when holding back water of that magnitude for so long.

We were all on edge. The last thing we needed was to read headlines like, "New Orleans' residents flee as it braces for hurricane force winds" and "New Orleans could see Possible heavier rains than Katrina."

All of these national media outlets were playing on our fears to bump up their ratings.

Shame on them for doing so!

So, yes- as you can probably tell, I am still somewhat pissed about how the media handled it. They reported on what would bring ratings, played into our fears and profited from it.

Mass shootings are an epidemic that our country needs to come to grips with. It is sickening. The truth is that they didn't start with Trump. They've been happening all too often since I was in middle school. And what have our leaders done? I am not talking about the different presidents, rather, the ones that have worked in D.C. for decades. There is no accountability.

And speaking of accountability, you do not have to saturate your mind with the 24 hour cable news cycle. I understand that newsworthy things happen and we should be kept up to date, but only to a point.

Most major news networks now have an agenda. They present themselves as doing us a service while in reality it's just the opposite. Well, I've got news for them--as a parent I have an agenda of my own, and it starts with turning off the TV. Call your senators, your councilperson, and your state and national representatives and hold them accountable. Don't just sink into a couch or recliner and yell at the TV.

I am not suggesting people boycott the news. All I am saying is take an inventory of how much you allow into your mind and home. By all means, stay informed. Stay "woke." But curling up into a helpless ball with cynical news programs blaring in the background isn't going to help anything.

But you know what will?

Here is a link to the Directory of United States Representatives in Washington D.C.:

https://www.house.gov/representatives.

Here is the national phone number to contact your senator:

(202) 224-3121

You can mail your senator at the following address:

For Correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

For Correspondence to Senate Committees:

(Name of Committee)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

We've got a long road to go. But we are all getting there together. After the election in 2016, I wrote about leading by example. Today, I am writing about taking action. I know this should go without saying, but I can't say it enough. We have been given the privilege. Use it. VOTE. It's now more important than ever.

I just called my congressman and senators. Will you?

***

I would love for you to follow our family's journey!

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