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“We live in fraught times. Okay, that’s a cliché. Maybe the “fraughtest times”? “An age of adrenaline”? Trade wars and shooting wars wax and wane. Monsoons inundate Midwestern farms while Congress dithers over disaster aid. Constitutional checks and balances have broken down. President Trump refuses to deal with Congress until House Democrats renounce their oversight responsibilities. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi condemns his refusal as a “cover-up.”
You can drop the news channels. Close the newspaper. Turn off the computer and the radio. That won’t stop the media reporting every word and deed of fabulists and fools. Of course, we look and listen. As Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend and Democratic presidential candidate, observed in a recent interview, the president’s ability “to command the attention of the media…is mesmerizing.” It’s “hard for anyone to look away,” including himself, he admits. Why so hard? “It is the nature of grotesque things that you can’t look away.” Frazzled citizens need some downtime from all the threats, lies, name-calling, and grandiose claims. Admit it! It’s hard to change the channel.
The media, increasingly aware that this constitutes obsessive behavior, inserts self-help advice among the tweet reports. Here are some recent tips I have encountered. First, recognize the very limited capacity of your attention span. How can it function properly, focus on anything, when it is taken up with the ins and outs of conflicting White House words and deeds, the feints and thrusts of Congress, the hits and misses of twenty-four Democratic presidential candidates, and the ducking and weaving of administration officials caught between the law and the tweets? We are, after all, fight-or-flight creatures; we can respond to one danger, but ten is too many. Center yourself. Set time limits on any discussion about the president’s daily headlines. Get off Twitter. Do not roll your eyes. Change the subject.
Second, relieve your anxieties with good deeds. From a neighbor, this idea: she asks friends to observe her birthday by doing a good deed, maybe more than one. Her hope is that many, many good deeds on the same day might buoy our spirits and inch the nation…”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."
"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."
"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."
"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."
"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."
"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."
"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."
"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."
"It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in..."
"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."
"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."
"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."