Saturday, August 10, 2019

Avoiding the Stress of the 2020 Election - A How-To & Why-To Guide

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Election year is coming.  As 2019 stretches into 2020, we're already seeing signs of another bloody presidential race bearing down on us.  The signs are all there, including accusations of Russian interference at the Democratic debates when Tulsi Gabbard called Kamala Harris out for her hypocrisy.  (Yes, really).  As more & more ads flood the airwaves & social media gets bogged down with politically inflammatory memes, how is a person to stay sane & keep their blood pressure down? 

Even for the winning party, 2016 was a shit show.  Nobody enjoyed the mud-slinging & ad hominem attacks that turned friends & family against each other.  2020 is bound to be no better...maybe worse.  When both sides are accusing the other of cheating, there are no winners.  Now both parties have "evidence" for their claims:  either Trump has lived up to his promise to make America great or he hasn't (depending on who you ask), so there's more riding on this one.  At least in the minds of most voters.  Everyone is more riled up & the media is banking on our fears, hatred & rage drawing viewers to their broadcasts.... 

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According to the NY Times, this Facebook ad was bought by "Russia" in 2016. 

...they're the only ones benefiting from this shitshow.  That's why I'm boycotting them in 2020.

Aside from the election, 2020 is also a leap year & the year of the Summer Olympics.  It marks 20 years since the turn of the millennium--"Y2K"--which was a defining time for an entire generation.  The next 20 years will bring self-driving cars, the automation of 30 million manual labor U.S. jobs & a whole lot of exciting medical & technological discoveries we can't possibly predict yet.  Hopefully the softening of a lot of draconian drug laws too.  It's an exciting time to be alive, yet we're choosing to focus on negative news while isolating ourselves in our social media echo chambers where nobody ever utters a dissenting opinion. 

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This face = great for ratings due to divisiveness it causes.

How can we steel ourselves against the ugly rhetoric & brainwashing of political ads in the coming months?  Easy.  First, avoid watching the news on television.  Whether it's the local news, world news or CNN/FOX, you're guaranteed to see some dumbed-down partisan crap every time you tune in.  No matter how fair & balanced "thee news" appears, there's always some degree of bias & agenda in the stories they choose to run, which means their programming is not essential to your survival or well-being.  Secondly, limit your time on social media & unfollow/mute the people in your feed who post excessive political content.  That's REGARDLESS of whether you agree with their views or not.  Social media should be fun & lighthearted--a place for friends & family to connect & share their lives; not a platform to argue & get angry about the day's events.  Control what pops up in your feed & limit yourself to 1-2 hours per day max.  Better yet, disconnect altogether until the election has passed.  You can always reactivate your accounts later if you choose to. 

Finally, find something healthy to replace the news consumption & social media use you're cutting out.  Old habits will never die if not replaced by new ones.  Instead of watching the news, watch a documentary on reddit.com/r/documentaries, cultureunplugged.com, DailyMotion or HBO.  Better to learn about a deeply interesting person or subject than to waste your attention on bullshit "news" that doesn't affect you 99% of the time.  If you've logged out of social media completely, pick up pen + paper & write a letter to somebody you care about.  You might be surprised how much more personal & genuine it feels to send a hard copy vs. a text or email.  Or use that paper to draw & doodle instead.  Hell, start a blog.  Some San Pedro cactus or another psychedelic friend can help cleanse your psyche & provide creative inspiration.  If all else fails, go outside & enjoy the fresh air & changing of the seasons.  Look out your window daily & remind yourself that things really aren't as bad as the scary anchorman tells you. 

If you suffer from FOMO ("Fear Of Missing Out") on the day's events, remind yourself that the news stories are curated by people with an agenda.  The stories that AREN'T covered are often more poignant & important than those that ARE.  Don't delude yourself into believing you need Anderson Cooper or Tucker Carlson to feed it to you with a side of political spin.  Just think of all the Trump headlines in the past few years that didn't amount to a hill of beans:  some nonsense thing he uttered or tweeted, toilet paper stuck to his shoe, how great/awful somebody thinks he is.  THAT'S NOT NEWS.  Nor is it news when the same stories are regurgitated on a loop for days with little to no new information added.  Case in point:  mass shootings.  The way the media covers these tragedies likely plays a big role in their causation, as they tend to happen in clusters.  (See:  the Gilroy, El Paso & Dayton shootings).  Is news mimicking life or is life mimicking news?  It's well-known that copycat suicides happen when celebrities kill themselves & receive excess media coverage; why would mass murder be any different?

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Welcome to the show.  Now with more idiots arguing.

While you're at it, don't tune into the stupid presidential debates either.  Televised debates are an embarrassment...a sham meant to bring in ratings while telling us nothing about candidates other than who has the wittiest 3-second soundbite.  Since when does that qualify someone to be president?  When you've got 7+ people on the stage vying for a chance to speak, nothing of any substance is going to get discussed anyway.  It's Jerry Springer Goes To D.C. basically.  Nevermind the exclusion of any candidate who's not a member of the 2-party duopoly thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is co-owned by the Republican & Democrat parties.  Jill Stein (Green Party) has been arrested several times now for attempting to attend the debates.  Some "democracy" we have here, innit?

Bottom line:  Stress levels & relationships will be healthier if you limit exposure to negative information which comes hard & heavy during election years.  If we all choose right now to not subject ourselves to it, politicians will have to up their game in the future to get our attention.  And we'll all be better off for it.  Just cast your vote & shuddup about it.   

((This has been a PSA from your friendly apathetic 3rd party voter.  Thank you for your time.))






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