In February of 2014 I began an experiment in irresponsibility. I rejected my American privilege of total information saturation and made the conscious decision to ignore as much news coverage as I possibly could for as long as I could. That effort lasted a full year.

This was no minor change to my lifestyle. I have a serious, decades-long news habit, and have spent many a productive afternoon strung out on NPR, Democracy Now! and C-SPAN. Before I undertook this journey, no injustice in some far-flung corner of the world was unworthy of my hand-wringing, and no usurpation of our democracy by moneyed elites did not deserve an articulate, five-graph rejoinder in CNN’s comments forum.

My media consumption had also made me the de-facto news dealer to my uninformed friends. Prior to last February, if you wanted the day’s hot lede about Ted Cruz or the Tea Party, I was your Huggy Bear. Not having those tidbits to share would definitely send my social stock plummeting.

However, just as with all addictions, chasing the news dragon was leading to diminishing returns. What was I gaining from all that up-to-the-minute coverage of the latest outrages from the Koch Bros. and Kony? Wasn’t all news the same news anyway? My younger brother, who is fully disinterested in the affairs of the world, described his own news epiphany at a tender age thusly “It was always the same thing: Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and the Palestinians…”

Information, the drug of false empowerment, had left me jaded. Thus did I swear off news of all sorts: TV, radio, Internet… I even averted my eyes from the newspaper headlines on display at my local convenience store. I knew I could not keep every fact at bay, but I vowed to research nothing that I learned of peripherally. I would become a news hermit.

I have taken respites from the news before, sometimes for as long as a month or two. I did not know how long this exercise would last, but I was determined to test myself to the limit. My fantasy was that at the end I would emerge­­­­––Rip Van Winkle style––blissfully ignorant of a year’s worth of goings-on. And although that ideal proved impossible (on at least one trip out of town the television in a hotel elevator imposed itself on me like an Orwellian telescreen), I can now declare myself almost as ignorant of what actually occurred in Two Thousand and Fourteen as if I had spent the entire year watching Fox News.

As of this writing, I still have not investigated any of the major stories I have been curious about for months (with the exception of Charlie Hebdo, of course. When someone starts popping cartoonists, self-preservation kicks in.) However, before I plunge into Wikipedia like Leeloo Dallas, trying to figure out why I should shoot my love beam into the sky for you people, I want to share with you exactly how much I did not learn in 2014, even through osmosis. What follows are the major stories of the past year that put the wind up the windbags, but which no one I know personally thought was interesting enough to tell me about without a zap from my cattle prod.

Better one…or two?


Islamic State? ISIS? ISIL? Icicle? There are only two things I know about these guys: A) no one knows what their fucking name is, and B) as of this time last year, no one had ever heard of them. 

That is remarkable when you consider that their manifold name comes up so often now that you would think they were a new strain of smallpox. Whoever they are, they have grown up in a single year to become Public Boogeyman #1, at least as far as the media is concerned. But from where I sit they appear to be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

One little tidbit I did hear is that these guys are such bad news that the US has allied with Bashar al Assad to fight them. I’m sure this must be horseshit, because as of this time last year the only mass-murdering lunatics being described in the terns ISIS is today were the Syrians.


Dribs and drabs about the Ebola outbreak did reach me, just enough for me to understand that all of Africa is now a hot zone. I also heard that the plague reached the United States, ravaging New York and Texas, only to disappear without a trace the day after the elections.


Whoa, whoa… what lives matter?

I know some rowdies ousted the King of Ukraine and revealed to the world that his bathrooms had golden toilet seats or sumthin’. Vladimir Putin may or may not have annexed all of Ukraine, and if the political cartoons I breezed are to be believed, something having to do with fire occurred around the time of the Olympics.

Left untold is whether Ukraine and Russia are officially at war or where on earth Ukraine even is. (It’s next to France, right?). And speaking of the Olympics…

The Olympics

Couldn’t tell you a damn thing.

Chris Christie

The only major domestic story I was following last February was the shenanigans of New Jersey sumo wrestler Chris Christie that led to a bridge collapsing on top of a hospital. (I may be slightly off here—this is also the year I began experimenting with mescal.)

How did that pan out? I assume that such an egregious abuse of power must have at least led to a press conference where the fat fuck embarrassed his wife and agreed to seek counseling. If that happened, nobody told me.

Michael Brown and Eric Garner

These stories were hard to avoid, but I tried like hell. Still, white cops murdering black folk and getting away with it can’t really be considered news in this day and age, can it?

I can’t believe no one told me that Obama
learned how to do a hadoken!


The easiest story to miss in the past year was all things Barack Obama. If he did anything noteworthy in 2014 then his fans kept the memos all to themselves. Also, judging by the generic level of outrage in the anti-Obama image macros I frequently encountered, even the Obama haters are operating on pure inertia.

I literally cannot tell you a single thing, good or bad, which Obama accomplished in the last year. I know he likes a nice round of golf, but besides that I can’t even say for sure that he is still our President.


Christ, how long does it take to build a nuke? I could have finished one by now! But that doesn’t seem to be a major concern to us anymore, judging by the absence stories coming across my transom. As a matter of fact, the only country to undershine Iran is…


Remember a certain day in September of 2011 that changed everything? The first thing I remember it changing was the number of American airstrikes and firefights in Afghanistan, from very few to, like, a lot. These went on and on for quite a while until, allegedly, they stopped in 2014.

I have heard that events like these are called “wars”, and they often lead to a period of reflection within the nations that fight them. The end of the war in Afghanistan must be the most underreported event of my entire lifetime. There is no way I should not have come across a discussion about it, even if I was making a conscious effort not to. But I am certain that I did not.

I’m being quite serious here. The full content of all the news about the war in Afghanistan that I heard in 2014 is exactly this: it ended.

Who won?