Exist in your bubble. The World is too noisy right now.
Or, why you don't have time for these bullshit culture wars when you're getting old
I had to go cold turkey on the news last week.
I'm usually a pretty easygoing, beach-bummy, go-with-the-flow type of dude. I thought I was immune to the manufactured outrage and fearmongering that the news media has come to sustain itself on in recent times. I understood how they were operating, preying on human fear to get their hooks in and keep their readers and viewers coming back day after day, creating their narratives out of thin air and feeding their audiences a steady diet of outrage.
And because I knew how their system worked, I felt as if that somehow made me immune to it all.
Which is flawed logic, I suppose. Just because you know the effects of alcohol on the brain doesn't somehow make you immune to alcoholism.
Like many of my middle-aged brethren, I have an awful predisposition to waste too many hours scrolling through the infinity pool of Reddit while at work. Browsing Reddit really ought to be relegated to the same rank of dirty habits as cigarettes and chronic masturbation. It's robbed me of many constructive hours, and while I go through periods of fortitude where I can keep the monster at bay, sometimes for months at a time, those idle moments inevitably lull me back to Reddit's merciless time vacuum and this hopeless addiction.
During an especially weak moment at work, perhaps drained from the mental beatdown of the exceptionally savage and exhausting workload I was suffering through that week, I got locked into a serious, glazed-eyed Reddit doomscrolling session.
Flicking the scroll wheel endlessly through my subscriptions and watching the threads zoom by on repeat like streetlights on a highway, I found a couple of political opinion piece articles that had filtered their way through my feed like an IV on a slow drip.
It was the typical divisive, fearmongering, culture-war garbage that sets the bar low and aims squarely for the gut, full of charged language, begging you to elicit some kind of raw emotional response for that click.
And in a weak moment, I became angry and clicked it.
And down, down the wild rabbit hole I fell. Lost in a world of delusion, conspiracy, and wild accusations, wondering how people could give up their basic senses of rationality and humanity for a shot of burning, rage-fueled ideology straight into the neck.
One click led me to another, my own outrage and indignation leading the way. I felt completely immersed in a pool of radicalization, disgusted but continuously following the breadcrumb trail, unable to pull myself out.
Thank God for the occasional moment of clarity because after losing almost a half hour to the ether, chaining myself to the rollercoaster ride of algorithms gobbling up my attention, I snapped out of it, realized what I had done to my brain, closed my browser and took a quick walk outside of the office to shake some of the grossness off.
At 44 years old, I have no idea how I allowed myself to get swallowed up in the hatefest. The thing is, at this age, I'm coming to terms with the truth that there are more important things to be spending the ever-dwindling time that I have left on. All that temporal bullshit like the 24-hour news cycle, culture wars, political warfare, clout chasing, career building, and wealth acquisition just pale in comparison to knowledge, art, philosophy, experience, and making my peace with an eternity that will be here long after you or whatever ideologies you want to punish your enemies with will be around for.
In midlife, time is of the essence. Accepting that the world is no longer yours to command is not an easy concept to reckon with. Another generation is rising to take the reigns who will have to live in it much longer than you will. The sooner you realize that and pivot from trying to impose your will on the world to instead directing that effort on yourself, the sooner you can begin the work of finding your own slice of peace and enlightenment before your gig is up and you're sucked back up into the cosmic vacuum.
And I can think of no greater way to leave this existence than at peace and enlightenment with oneself. That's why it's vital to avoid the traps set out to prey on your emotions. In the era of social media, they're literally everywhere. As heinous and bloodthirsty as the political discourse of the day is you have to resist the constant pull on your attention, which is easier said than done when the media gun is pointed straight at your heart, locked and loaded with outrageous sensationalism and potent, fear-driven, hate... pure desperation, desiring nothing more than to engage the most vulnerable aspects of the human character and pull you back in.
How can we die happy when we're mired in this? How can we find higher meaning when we're torn away from pursuing the higher truths for the petty, irrational, and, in many cases, fabricated debates of the day? Stop scrolling and pick up a book, a pen, or a pair of walking shoes. As the second half of your life only seems to accelerate with its own passage, you don't have time for the bluster and noise.