The news was never on. We never spoke of anything happening in Washington. There was nothing on a local level that stirred my mom to commentary. My mother always shared her story of where she was when she found out JFK was assassinated. That was her news. Maybe my grandmother watched the evening news. I recall a best friend’s parents having the news on in their bedroom often. I seemed to have intuited my father and his father being Reagan Republicans. I would sit on this granddad’s lap and read the comics with him; this was my tactile newspaper interaction. Later on, I vaguely recall pivotal moments and breaking news during Clinton’s administration. There was one time in high school, an AP History class, in which we were asked to provide the name of world leaders and global figures based off their pictures alone. I was mortified not knowing but a few of the ten or twelve images. Nelson Mandela, I knew, but maybe by osmosis or proxy to National Geographic magazines. I literally had no clue otherwise. How was I supposed to know? Politics was not at my kitchen table. It had not saturated everything as it has now. It had not become the substitute religion. There weren’t teens on TikTok giving an uneducated, indoctrinated worldview.
Then 9/11 happened. I’ve come such a long way. I don’t have to describe where we are now. We sense it. We feel it. It’s an angst; an undercurrent to all areas of our lives. As forementioned, it’s on our social media; it’s on the labels we buy at the grocery stores; it’s in the gas price. I still know people completely tapped out -may as well be living on an island of isolation. They may be happier. They seem to be getting on fine. So I wonder, what’s the upside? Anyone on Twitter would scoff at this prospect, being willfully ignorant. Because Twitter is a 2% example of those most invested, their scope of objectivity is narrower too. Each day does not actually exist for the issue or outrage of the day. To be so evangelical in this belief is to have a mental disorder. Choose wisely.
I hate the stupid cliché that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. But it’s true in the case that we only have so much bandwidth to expend on all the issues plus go about our lives with some sort of normalcy and sanity. It takes both a concerted effort to ignore the trivialities and a conscientiousness to stay informed. People used to pick their political party by single issues; the rest came down to persuasion. Now every issue is a single issue: the border; inflation and the economy; abortion and the Supreme Court; childhood education; healthcare and Covid policy; climate change, for some. And now Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Each one is a busted pipe of water. It’s easy to feel you’re drowning. It’s easy to get lost in the morass.
The amplification of each is why everything seems crazy. One could be excused for tapping out. To care about one issue requires time, study, reading, listening. This alone is a stretch. To go beyond is to possibly snap. We only have so much bandwidth.
So then, obviously, not one politician is capable of aligning with all of their constituents on all of the issues. None of us are one-dimensional. Who is doing their best on the particular policy you care the most about? This should be the question. Vote the really bad apples out.
I do not have to grapple with the issue of homeschooling. I don’t have children. I don’t have a stake in the fight directly. I don’t have to consider their education or possible indoctrination. The topic doesn’t even require my opinion nor my mental bandwidth. It doesn’t need me to get in its lane. Parents, though, have a different responsibility.
Things aren’t lightening up. It’s worth conserving ones time and energy and preserving oneself. It’s about not letting the frivolous distract from the moving. There’s only so much time in the day and only so many priorities one can handle. And there’s way too much stupid going on.
If there were a little more focus, there’d be a lot less noise.