By October I’d had enough. I wasn’t sleeping. Or if I was, it was fitful. This narcissist, this black hole of empathy and decency, this drivel-spewing idiot had taken over way too much real estate in my head. I’m talking about the *president, of course, and his blundering towards that which must not be named, the big one, the NW, the Final Countdown.
Now, we may not be safe from any of that yet, but around October, I started to see that nobody else was freaking out like I was inside. Seriously, I could be tootling along merrily during the day and then at the end the night see the headlines and then spend pulse-pounding hours lying in bed thinking the unthinkable. This was ridiculous. Not only that, but I hated hated hated this person for making me feel this way.
So I made a decision. I woke up the next morning and decided to erase the news.
Yes, this is the height of solipsism, but it was the remedy I needed. I went to my RSS feed (I used Feedbin, if you care) and unsubscribed to every single political blog I was on. I abandoned Twitter (if you see me on there, it’s through a IFTTT routine). Any email list I was on detailing the latest outrage–I hit the unsubscribe button. (Most of these emails use outrage and scare tactics to gather funds, of course.) And I look askance when I bop onto Facebook, heading straight to my page in order to avoid its “Trending” column.
I used to think it was important to be plugged into the now, to the current, to the debate. But now in the CheetoFascist Era, this is not the case. This foul man had made me rethink my entire ideology of engagement.
Does it matter if I read the news?
I liked to think I was politically engaged. But apart from the occasional march (like in January, which was fun), I don’t engage. I don’t take part. I don’t write letters to my representatives. I do what the majority of people do, which is slacktivism–signing online petitions. I vote, when we get to do so. And I get angry. A lot.
But I’m not a political writer. I’m not an advisor. I’m not a speaker or an agitator.
I’m *supposed* to be an artist, a filmmaker, a teacher, and, yes, a writer, but not of politics.
For my sanity, I pressed the eject button.
A day after I felt ten times better. I slept better. I was relaxed. The anxiety left.
Should you do this? To quote the web: Your Mileage May Vary.
I still check in on YouTube, where I can see the late night hosts dissect the latest idiocy from a safe time distance. (I still try to keep myself away from gazing on his hideous visage). I still listen to Chapo Trap House, because they seem to keep away from the daily-outrage-stream and dig in to the historical mulch below.
Look, I spent way too much of the Bush and Obama years reading blogs, articles, essays, sometimes even whole books (usually Chomsky) about our current state. My own impact on events? A perfectly round zero. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
And please mention
That my situation is also the result of white male privilege. Others are living thru this much more intensely. The events of this time are written on their skin and psyche. I can pretend to “opt out” for a while, others can’t.
In (temporary) conclusion
I’m telling friends “I’m on a news diet.” I’m happier…and one of the reasons you’re reading this now!
The new mantra, when I call a particular friend to check in on the world: “Is he in jail? Has he resigned? Is he dead?”