You know what I’ve realized is a big, useless waste of time? Caring about politics.
A certain type of person will feel self-righteously indignant after reading that. “How can you just not CARE? How can you not VOTE? What if EVERYONE thought like you did?” And so on.
Well, I wouldn’t say that I used to be that sort of person necessarily, but the minutiae of elections, policy developments, international affairs and all the rest of the dreary, real-life soap opera – fascinated me greatly. I would spend at least an hour every day reading newspapers, blogs, and magazines. I was smugly confident in my ability to speak at length on whatever bullshit was polluting the newsstands on any given day. Yes, annoying people who care deeply about politics, I was once as you.
That changed when I started evaluating where I spent my time and energy. I realized that caring about politics was consuming a lot of both, and contributing almost nothing to my life. Understanding the Affordable Care Act simply did not make my (or anyone else’s) life better. So why bother?
Anyone with eyes can see that 1) A lot of shit is fucked up in the world, and 2) Most governments are ignoring the problems, or actively making them worse. Can you change any of this? No. Reading about the specifics every day is just letting a heavy-flow shower of runny shit and negativity into your life.
And what about voting? How will I know which candidate is most worthy of my precious support, if I don’t make studying the issues a part-time job?
Here’s one possible answer: Fuck voting, fuck the system, and fuck the ceremonious mendacity of casting ballots so we can pretend that we actually control our fates.
Here’s another: Give up news media, but send me an email with the publications you WOULD read if you hadn’t. I will predict with 90% accuracy who you would have voted for. Include a brief life story, your profession, and who you expect most of your friends to vote for, and I’ll bump that up to 99%.
Finally, if you absolutely MUST vote, spend 2-3 hours before each election quickly researching the candidates and the issues. Also, ask a few close friends whose values you share to tell you who they’re voting for and why. I guarantee the decision you make is the same one you would have made if you had started every day for the past four years with a five-course opinion media breakfast.
Finally, if you follow the news, not out of some sort of grade-11-civics-induced Calvinist guilt, but because you actually ENJOY it, because you feel that doing so makes you HAPPY… then you have no idea what true happiness is. Go get a girlfriend or ride a bike or something.
I’ve been trying to go media-free for several weeks now, and I’ve been about 90% successful. I am blown away by how much more I can accomplish – I’m exercising more, organizing my life better, spending more time with friends, creating more music, writing a thousand or so words most days, and devouring every book and blog I’ve found on self-improvement, long-term travel, writing and lifestyle alternatives generally.
I’ve also been studying up on self-publishing and social media marketing. Sorry Grandma – this blog won’t always just be for you and me.
Are you a news and media junkie? I dare you to try and give it up for a week. See what else you find to do with your time. See if you miss anything important. Most of all: See if there’s anything else in your life that you would rather be caring about.