“But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit of the Tower; and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then flashed and went out. And when Denethor descended again he went to Faramir and sat beside him without speaking, but the face of the Lord was grey, more deathlike than his son’s.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien,” The Lord of the Rings)
Everybody reading (and writing) this post is a news junkie. So, thinking about political matters is part of our nature. But constantly reading the news and opinion pieces all day long is bad for you. It creates a lot of stress. It can depress you. And over the long haul those kinds of things can kill people.
But there’s another thing it does to you which also causes enormous damage.
It distracts you.
When you follow these stories and agonize over the drip, drip, drip of the unfolding drama on line or in the media you lose track of the important things you should be thinking about and doing. You are distracted.
Now I am the poster child for this behavior. During the post-9-11 period I obsessed over every detail of the war news. I think I spent the whole Bush presidency looking at the casualty data coming out of Iraq. And, sure, that was a vitally important aspect of the news but it blinded me to what I should have been thinking about. I should have been questioning the underlying reasons why George Bush wasn’t obsessed with eliminating those injuries and deaths. I was missing the bigger picture.
And more importantly, it distracted me from paying attention to my own private matters. Financial considerations, professional responsibilities, even family concerns took a back seat to what was going on half a world away because I became obsessed with the details of a drama that I had no control over and which was played out on a medium that had become omnipresent.
As a reality check, I admit I am still obsessed with the details of the culture war that has engulfed our world. In fact it’s at the center of one of my primary activities, this blog. But like a recovering addict I’ve developed a program for modifying my behavior and rebalancing my life away from the source of the compulsion.
The first rule is to monitor your time and limit the amount of time you spend reading the news and opinion journals. That’s key. Figure out how much time you need to accomplish all the other things in your life that need doing and then allocate something less than the remainder of the day to your obsession.
The second rule is to develop a clear understanding about how things work in the real world. That way you can clearly distinguish in your mind the things you have control over and things that you do not. If you can convince yourself that you are already doing everything possible to mitigate the problems you worry about, it may relieve you of some of your anxiety.
As an example, if you’ve decided that electoral fraud has already made election of a Republican president or a Republican senate impossible then it’s no longer sensible to spend endless hours worrying which Republican candidate will be nominated. This might allow you to concentrate your efforts on finding a Red State to move to and deciding which candidate in that state you want to see as governor.
And the third rule is ENJOY YOUR LIFE.
Fretting over the antics of the clowns in Washington steals from you time and happiness. There’s always plenty of time when you can obsess about the horror we see every day in the news. Pediatric transgender medical malpractice, deep state trespasses against the constitutional rights of Americans, green energy frauds, state-sponsored anti-white violence; you name it. There are enough outrages in the news every day to rob you of joy for the whole twenty-four hours. But don’t let it.
Compartmentalize the time you waste on line fussing and fretting. Force yourself to walk away and do something fun or useful or both. And by doing this you will imperceptibly make the world and your world that much better. Because while you’re sitting there fretting, you’re not making things better you’re just making yourself worse. And you’re making the little bubble that is your world worse.
So, after you read this break away and rejoin the real world and go outside and breath some fresh air and tackle some real-world problem and check it off your list. Denethor, drop the palantir and pick up a sword.