A family tragedy
My mother has always loved television and entertainment. When I was young, we loved watching the Chicago Bulls completely own the NBA for years. We watched the OJ Simpson and Jody Arias court cases attentively. It made her happy, and it seemed to bring us together and was positive overall. Four or five years ago, I had seen her flipping in between all the news channels, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to get the daily scoop. For the last few years, it has been Fox News only and it’s on all day.
I’ve seen a huge shift in her overall mindset, attitude, and worldview, especially in the last year. She seems more bitter, grumpy, and strained. Visits to the house have become less frequent as every discussion seems to end up in a rant about politics. It seems like I can’t talk to her about anything else. Attempts to see how she is, what’s going on with her, how she is feeling all seem to lead to an argument about Trump or Biden. All of her statements seem to contain such strong hate, fear, and irritation. It’s like she is convinced that the world has wronged her and Democrats are clearly the culprits.
Before I continue, I want to assert that this is not a political article. Whatever political party anyone wishes to be part of is up to them. It’s more of a testament to how excessive television coverage is and how it’s creating rifts within families.
In my mind, I believe I have tried every way to relate with her or defuse the situation.
I’ve tried indulging her and really debating the issues, but we cannot seem to agree on what the facts are. We just start talking in circles with rhetoric that I feel only increasingly estranges us. The more I invite her to open up and express herself, the angrier she seems to get. She refuses to turn off the news so I can talk to her and even ups the volume.
I’ve tried saying, “Yea, you know, you’re right and I’m wrong, can we talk about something else now?”
Many times, I’ve brought my wife with me because she will clam up and not argue when she’s around.
The last time I was over, I tried just speaking from the heart. It backfired in a huge way. I merely stated that I am concerned about how this news programming may be comprising her well-being and health, as well as degrading relationships with me and other members of our family. She had taken this statement as me telling her to not watch and she said she will watch what she wants. Somehow statements about how Biden is ruining the country, all Democrats are potheads, and Trump is the only person who can run this country right found their way in. To top it all off, she had asked why I even bother to come by anymore since no one had asked me to come over. It was hurtful. I think she felt very hurt that I had shown concern over the excessiveness of this program and for her mental health. She finally asked me to leave and I did.
I don’t think I have any more cards to play. Each time I see her, especially this last visit, she seems to have become increasingly radicalized and harder to talk to. Any act which defies the information she has entrusted in feels like I am gaslighting her. Any attempt to understand and empathize brings forth incoherent rhetoric that I can’t follow. It’s like arguing with someone about the color of the sky.
It’s disheartening because I could not feel a stronger familial bond with her, after all, she is my mother and created me. It’s in my nature to care for her and want her to be happy and safe. But it’s like we cannot get onto the same page to facilitate an intelligent or meaningful discussion for some time now.
After I was asked to leave, I felt somewhat of a relief. Maybe I’ve done all that I can in my power to try to bridge the gap. Maybe it’s time to just give up and accept it. I lost my mom to Fox News. I am not sure still how well that sits with me yet, but maybe I should stop trying so hard and let it work itself out.