All Quiet On The Eastern Front

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post called Is Reading The News Bad For You? Since then, I have not read the news. I haven’t opened Google News in English at all. I have rarely opened Google News in Russian and the few times I did, I scrolled right past the allegedly important stuff at the top so I could read the cultural section. And I haven’t even done that for the past two weeks. I think I’ve pretty much managed to cut the news out of my life.

Honestly, a part of me hates that. (The other part of me is enjoying the peace and quiet that comes from not following news events!) In a way, I really miss reading the news, especially Russia-related stuff. It’s not so much the news specifically that I miss reading, but the fact that I read it as a Russia watcher. Being a Russia watcher was a part of my identity for a while and I enjoyed it immensely.

That is, until I discovered that independence of thought is not rewarded in circles where Russia watching is required for one’s job. It’s their way or the highway, as the saying goes. If you don’t loathe Putin and worship the opposition, there isn’t really a place for you. Amateur Russia watching on the internet then became increasingly toxic after the war in Ukraine started. So despite missing this part of my life, I don’t think I’ll return to being a Russia watcher anytime soon.

The reason is simple: without intensely reading the news, especially articles about Russia, I have a lot more time to do other things now. I’m studying for a professional certification exam (which isn’t that much fun but hopefully will help my career), playing violin, and writing. I don’t feel the pressure to blog about stuff I’ve read concerning Russia—because I haven’t read anything!

Unfortunately, my Russian studies have taken a bit of a hit during this news fast. I didn’t realize how much I relied on the news to learn new words in Russian until I stopped reading the news. I do have a plan, though. I’m reading a novel in Russian and plan to read more books about history. As it turns out, there are quite a number of interesting books about Russian history that I’d like to read. Western scholarship may have been freer for a greater number of years, but it is not without its problems, and besides, Russian scholars have written a ton of stuff in the decades since the Soviet Union fell. I’m also considering starting a blog in Russian on LiveJournal (because that’s where the Russian-speaking blogging community hangs out).

All is quiet on the eastern front, everyone. And honestly, overall I’m enjoying it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go crochet, or read, or play violin, or do something more fulfilling than opening up the Google News homepage that I used to frequent.


5 thoughts on “All Quiet On The Eastern Front

  1. Don’t use Google News, use,n,b,t,e,s
    Don’t cease to be a Russia watcher, just don’t be a Russian Federation watcher (There is nothing wrong with the country per se).
    It’s interesting that both sides areas fanatical, although both sides say they are a representatives of FREEDOM! Honestly, there is not so much difference between them.


    1. I’m afraid I have ceased to be a Russia watcher, Roman. However, perhaps I will have to start again because that link you posted is pretty cool!

      And don’t forget, I’ve abandoned Russia watching in favor of being a historian again… so in a way, I’m still a Russia watcher, though I suppose Russian Empire watcher would be more correct since that’s my favorite era to read about. 😀


  2. Quote: “It’s their way or the highway, as the saying goes. If you don’t loathe Putin and worship the opposition, there isn’t really a place for you.”

    rite so rite omg.

    As a person with a fairly centrist view of the current crisis, a fairly neutral opinion on Putin, a dislike for most of the current opposition, and a teeny tiny shard of hope that maybe the U.S. and Russia could get along in the (distant) future, I became frustrated fairly quickly. Now, I don’t even watch Russia-related news. I still like to read about the country and its trajectory, but from books…carefully selected books.
    I totally agree with you, Natalie. You’ve made a good choice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who was frustrated with this. I still read Russian-language news, but mainly about cultural events because usually that’s not politicized. There’s also a ton of Russian-language books (fiction and nonfiction) that I have and want to read, so at least I plan to continue learning Russian. I’m just not really into the politics anymore.


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