How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world to hear their answers. This is drawn from a phone conversation with Rob Delaney, author of the newly published memoir Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
A Buddhist adheres to 227 precepts, and one of them is that they don't consume news. I think that's a really good idea. People, particularly in this age, like to get riled up. You've got to be so careful with journalists. Like Jeffrey Toobin on CNN after arguments for the Affordable Care Act. He went insane on television and people took that and ran with it. Or Andrew Sullivan after Obama's debate in Colorado. So the people on the news are crazy! So why would I listen to them, you know? And now it's easier than ever to just confirm your own biases with the news.
So I'm pretty selective about what I allow into my eyes and ears. For my taste, The Atlantic is just a little less histrionic than other news sources, and I like it. The New Republic was great as we got ready to hear the Supreme Court's opinion on the Affordable Care Act. So I consume a lot of news about health care, education. I'm like a single-payer propagandist—I believe Obamacare's a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough at all. And then I care about education.
Twitter is the doorway that I get to these news sources. I am aware that because I'm approaching a million followers, I can really amplify a news source. And I think it's important for people who like me and don't like me to know that I am not without bias, clearly. I am kin of, I don't know, a Karl Rove or a Sarah Palin or a Grover Norquist. I have ideologies that if you give me a platform, I'm going to try to advance. [Note: At this point Rob was interrupted by a baby's voice. "My little nine-month-old is waking up," he explained. "He's sick. I'm going to pick him up."]
Journalists will even ask me to retweet their stuff, which is interesting. So, particularly if you don't like me, be aware that I'm just some guy. And if you do like me, remember that power corrupts and makes things seem more significant than they are. So I'm one guy. I'm one comedian with an opinion. So certainly don't trust me until you've crawled up my butt with your own microscope and made your own decisions. Because I'm not ABC. I'm not The Atlantic. I'm a guy. And people — I hope they remember that.
I respond to people [on Twitter] typically everyday. It's usually nice, human people who are writing back to me. When I reply to people, it's because they've piqued my interest or tugged my heartstrings or whatever. And I'm grateful that people pay attention to what I say. That's insane and doesn't cease to blow my mind. I imagine at some point that I'll stop reading [my @ mentions], but I hope I can stick to that. Twitter is what I read right before bed. I'm more interested in diversion before bed, so hopefully I'm reading fart jokes before I go to sleep.
I consider a successful day where I don't sit in front of the computer at all, unless I'm writing something longer form, like a book or magazine. I don't really enjoy the act of sitting and looking at a screen. A big screen, rather. I use my phone. Most of my tweets are sent from my phone. I rarely ever watch live television. I don't even have cable. I watch TV, but I watch shows that I stream or on DVD. I do enjoy the Colbert Report a lot. That would actually be the show that I watch the most regularly—always a day late, online.
So my news consumption is slightly higher than your average person, but I'm not an obsessive news consumer. 'Cause you don't really need to! There's diminishing returns, you know, in the amount of news that you consume. The New York Times I enjoy. The L.A. Times I enjoy. You know, my local public radio station, KCRW, is fantastic. That's public radio here, Santa Monica College-based. I get The Atlantic and The New Yorker. My wife and I, because we belong to AAA, we get Westways, their member magazine. [Note: At this point the baby began audibly crying.] Which is from AAA and it's like, "Fun things to see around California!" and it's totally you would look at it and be like, "That is strictly for elderly people!" But my wife and I—ooh, I just got vomited on a lot. Is it okay if we wrap it up? Do you have what you need? I'm being vomited on and I'm going to go. Have an awesome day! Thank you so much!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.