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How Much is too Much?

Paavo Saari is currently attending college at Western Washington University. He was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, to a family which consistently supports and encourages his sense of creativity. Snowboarding has played a large role in his life, and he still loves it to this day. He and his parents don't think he gets enough exercise. Writing is a new aspiration of his, which he plans to continue pursuing. This is the first story he has had published.

David spent all day in his media center, reading the news. In this sense he was no different than every other middle class person in the country. Every day he sat, and absorbed new information. He had just finished reading an article about the war. The article said that war was bad because it killed innocent people. He agreed. He was very thankful he had read that article. If he hadn't, his opinion of the war would have been incorrect.
It had been years since David had had an opinion about a part of his own life. No journalist was writing about it. His own life had no statistics to analyze, no primary sources.
David had never had a spouse: When he was eighteen he had read a government research paper that suggested marriage only increased the likelihood of depression. That same day he read an article celebrating the tenth birthday of the first test tube baby, born and raised without any biological parents. She was a technical genius, outperforming her traditionally conceived classmates in both physical and mental activities. David wondered if she felt anything.
Food was delivered to David on a conveyor belt, the same turkey and spinach sandwich, every day at one-thirty in the afternoon. It would arrive on a small tin plate decorated with carved flower designs. David hated the flowers. He had once read an article about pollen allergy. He no longer went outside.
On most days David would read upwards of fifty articles, which his computer recited to him to compensate for his inability to read. Nobody could read. The term read had become synonymous with "listening to something else read." But on this day, he read an article that ceased his capability to listen.
It was around one o'clock in the afternoon when he first read it, and his sandwich drifted by untouched half an hour later. The article, published a week prior, was titled How Much information Is Too Much? It was written by the only journalist to ever decline government subsidies. He was the first to suggest that there was such a thing as too much media. He finished the article with a question. The question was this:
Why study blue jays in a house with no windows?
David struggled with the question. He read it again and again. The more he read the angrier he became. He stomped his feet and threw his lunch. The article simply made no sense. Could there really be an amount of media that was too much? He tried reading different stories, but every word only added to his growing anxiety.
David had a nervous breakdown.
The hospital diagnosed him with overthinking, and suggested he not put so much pressure on finding meaning in life. They said pressure increases the likelihood of depression. David complied. The doctor told him not to be alarmed, she'd been dealing with similar cases all week. When David got home he read an article about the war. It said that war was good because it boosted the economy. He agreed.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 11th, 2019

Author Comments

I came up with a rough idea for this story after a class where my professor told me that Americans spend an average of eleven hours a day interacting with media. I thought that was quite a bit of hours, and began to consider all the ways that media could be manipulated, and how people with enough money or power might do so. From a strictly news information standpoint, I considered how pointless it is to learn news if you don't spend any time interacting with the world that it comes from. People who inspired this story include my beautiful girlfriend, friends, and family, as well as George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut.

- Paavo Saari
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