Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Crisis of Negativity

Today we had a great phone conversation with someone who knows a lot about economics that turned out to be enormously beneficial. Not so much for anything specific that he told us (because, when all is said and done, all he can do is study his models and data points and try to make reasonable guesses about what's going to happen in the economy). No, the value of today's call came solely from its pragmatism, and its (relative) objectivity: his common sense has done wonders, providing much-needed counterpoint to all the noisy noisy noise of what passes for News Media these days--not to mention the even noisier noisy noise of Social Media.

I realized this as we were ending the call, and I thanked him for it. We don't work in an office (even remotely); we don't really get deep contact with the world outside our sheltered circle except what we get from the (virtual) newspapers we subscribe to, and the TV news that we occasionally subject ourselves to, and of course (in my case) Twitter, where my need for any sign of feedback to my paltry writings usually leads me to engage in what's now called "doom-scrolling," that endless fugue of variations on a theme that comprises most of the posts that arrive on my feed. (The rare exceptions are the videos of cats doing amusing things; something to be grateful for.) 

The point is, all of the above serve up almost exclusive negativity. Bill noted, accurately, that that's what generates hits; we all know this but it doesn't stop any of it. In my 61 years on this planet, I can't recall any time remotely so disheartening and despairing as these past five or so years: the continual drone of bad people getting away with bad things and the accompanying drumbeat of ever-increasing urgency. The existential crises just seem to keep ramping up and requiring more and more from us: money, time; worry, mostly.

I am not denying that the crises are real. They are. Especially the climate crisis, but all the others as well.

But there's a kind of bureaucracy that's been created around perpetuating them, institutionalizing them; I guess because it's ultimately profitable. And so it pervades us, especially those of us who are a little bit marginalized, after Covid and so on. We don't just doom-scroll; we doom-live.

This, of course, cannot stand.

What to do? I'm not sure yet. But the internet was where I made my name, such as it was/is, and I am determined to figure out how it can be rehabilitative in the face of all this fatiguing, crippling garbage. I am certainly not going to let the negativity define me. There's a way through.

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