Give Yourself Credit for Showing Up
There are a million ways to check out. Pick a screen, any screen. Distractions are calling, and they promise relief.
It’s tempting to be anywhere but right here, right now. Depending on where you look, “now” can be a very scary place.
War(s), mass shootings, corporate fraud, social injustice, political mudslinging, hate crimes, intrusive capitalism, racism, environmental destruction, predictions about sentient machines…the list goes on.
If I want to fly into a panic, all I need to do is turn on the news. If I want to drown in hopelessness, I have a ready supply of horrifying atrocities at my fingertips.
With the magical device I carry in my pocket, I have immediate access to stoke the flames of each and every character defect I stubbornly refuse to let go: Jealously. Self-pity. Greed. Rage. Lust. Resentment. Selfishness.
Why We Check Out
It’s easier to pull an ostrich and bury my head in the sand than attempt to tolerate the bloody, raw traumas that tug at me from every screen.
It’s overwhelming, and we’re overstimulated. The human nervous system didn’t evolve to endure our constant, daily barrage of predatory advertisements, sensationalist doomsayers, rage-inducing pundits.
The many tragedies occurring in the world are more than enough to feel hopeless and question the moral fabric of the societies that surround us.
Must we then too bear the psychological burden of watching these gory traumas repeat on an endless loop on all our screens? Isn’t it way too much to then be lured and pursued by these traumas with every kind of digital breadcrumb and click-bait alert?
The reality is that every messenger of doom — from national broadcast news anchors to your uncle’s Facebook rants — intrudes upon our mental wellbeing.
The color, character and coding of our media messages have been carefully crafted, focus-grouped, A/B tested and refined to elicit maximum attentional stickiness.
So, we’re served up spoonful after spoonful of polarizing sensationalism. The information algorithms that populate our…