We are sick of USA Today. We are tired of its using the words "we" and "our" to create a false sense of community, to enlist us in movements and trends that we know nothing about and have no desire to join. We are tired of arguing back at a newspaper that declared, as it did just the other day, "We're tangled up again in knitting." The hell we are.
The trouble with USA Today is that it does not report, it embraces. It incessantly wants to identify with me, but it manages to do just the opposite. I diet for weeks on end, eat nothing for days, drink only water and gargle Perrier, and USA Today says, "We Like Steak, Gooey Desserts." We do not. We avoid them like the plague.
Sometimes USA Today tells me that I'm healthy, sometimes that I'm on the verge of death and sometimes that I've made a wonderful recovery: "More of Us Now Recover From Stroke."
I learn that "We're Spiking More Dishes With Spirits," which explains, among other things, why we're having so many strokes, not to mention this urge to knit that I just know you have been noticing. Sober people would not knit, nor, for that matter, would they sleep in the buff, which is what USA Today says that one out of eight of us does. "We're Ready to Stand Up and Cheer," says the paper. Okay, but before we do, we'd better put some clothes on.
The idea behind this chumminess is to make all of America into one big, intimate community. Instead, I feel excluded. Reading USA Today recreates the high school experience for me: Once again, I get the feeling that everyone, the whole damn school, is at a party I know nothing about.
If USA Today were really my paper, which is what it pretends to be, it would headline, "We Hurt, But We Came to Work Anyway." It would say, "We're Dieting and Not Losing Weight, Which Is the Story of Our Lives." It would say, "We're Worrying About Money and Not Getting Rich" and "We Fear Death But Think We Can Avoid It" and "We Read Sex Surveys to See If We're Normal." My paper would say, "We're Wonderful and Unappreciated and We Wish Everyone Else the Worst."
My paper would say, "We Fear Putting Our Hand Down Garbage Disposal Even Though It's Off" or, after a weekend of yard work, "Our Yards Look Better." Every once in a while, my paper would headline, "We Buy Suit on Sale and Salesman Says It Is Us," and those of us who are the parents of teen-agers would see a headline that says, "Our Children Are Nuts and We Wonder Why We Had Them in the First Place."
I get none of this from USA Today -- no sense of belonging, no way I can identify with the rest of the country. The paper tells me all of you are in exercise class, seeing "Casablanca" in color, buying a phone that dials itself, being intrigued by India, getting more choice in IRAs, watching "Dynasty," having more sex than some but less than others -- running, dancing, eating booze, drinking steak and doing it all together.
We are exhausted. Cancel our subscription.