This post is not about politics or religion. It’s about perspective.
If you do any reading about politics or public policy, or if you watch (scroll through) any media, you know that politics is usually partisan, typically hyperbolic and almost always driven by motives which have little to do with the average citizen.
So why is there so, so much divisive discourse? No, not discourse – that implies there is an actual conversation happening. It’s more like shouting over the fence. Why is what we increasingly call conversation not much more than ad hominem attacks, attempts to gaslight, or sentiments that have the feel of the “Chicken Little” story?
I’m reading a book by Rod Paige who was the Secretary of Education under #43 which highlights the real face of the teacher’s unions. (That’s another blog or ten.) As I reflect on what is happening two things come to mind:
- There is nothing new under the sun
- Humans are fantastically competitive when it comes to pushing their ideas.
If you’re a bit like me, I’m tired of the shouting, the noise, the outright lies and the attempts to manipulate my emotions and thinking by the media and politicians.
What’s a smart girl (or guy) to do?
Unplug. Just a bit.
It’s probably not responsible to unplug completely, but what should we do to regain balance between the ton of information (most of it irrelevant to our daily lives) and what we REALLY need to know?
But, Frankie, I LIKE FaceBook and Twitter and the news constantly streaming wherever I go! But, Reader, why? Why is that? My kids would say you have FOMO. (Look it up. I had to.) I’d also tell you that it is so ingrained in our habits that it would feel something like having to get used to your grocery store when they move everything around. I’d also tell you that there is an answer that explains what happens in your brain when your phone dings. (Think Pavlov’s dog.). Then there is this: understand that all of communication is meant to influence you.
Are you ready for change? Then you have to reflect a bit on the problem. Only you will be able to make this change. Complaining won’t do it. Talk doesn’t help in this case. Action will.
- Limit the number of times you pick up your phone, log-on to your computer or turn on the news on your TV each day.
- Change your notifications so that your screens don’t light up, they vibrate, or ding.
- Turn your phone to Do Not Disturb at night.
- Get off all digital devices including your TV 1-2 hours before bed. Blue light interferes with your body’s ability to produce melatonin. And frankly, most of what we see is so aggravating that our heart rates are too high to allow restorative sleep at night.
- Eliminate negative ads, people or organizations that show up on your feeds.
- Fill your feeds with positive sources of information.
- Reduce your news to as few as possible that will give you balanced approaches to news.
- Try an MSM and social media fast for a day or a weekend.
- Never allow phones on a date or at your dinner table. Start discovering eye-color and facial expressions again!
Some years ago, in a college class that I taught for pre-service teachers, I asked them to understand the effect of our digital devices by taking a digital fast for just one 24-hour period. The day before the fast, students were to observe how often they were on any kind of device or media including TV and radio. They were to also include in their frequency chart why they were using that media. So many were truly reluctant to do this. They were to observe and record how the day went on the day of their fast. Finally, they were to write a reflective essay. By and large, the results followed this pattern: about a 3-4 hour period of withdrawal with some students experiencing physical symptoms, then this amazingly productive period of about 4-6 hours that included cleaning, exercising, or fixing things ending with the most impactful experience of the day – connecting socially with friends or spending time in nature. All of them said that the next morning, they awoke refreshed having slept better than ever in months. All of them said they were shocked at the amount of time they spent on their devices.
So what does this have to do with all the negative in our lives? Understand that humans have been competing for your attention since ziggurats were built in Babylon. Understand that the attempt to influence you is a human drive – it’s in our DNA to build our fiefdoms. It really hasn’t gotten worse – except that in our digital age we have the ability to access more and more information. All this information is not making us better. It is making us sick.
It. Is. Our. Choice. To. Engage.
Choose well. I think we will all be better for it in the long run.