I've cheated, sure. A couple of times. I've hovered over an RSS feed to get the scoop, I've perked my ear up as my husband watched Rachel. But, for the past week, I've not obsessed over politics. And it's been very illuminating and liberating.
My pal, Paul, from over at Near Earth Object (an excellent blog, by the way), is considering taking a hiatus as well. Regarding my last post, he writes:
"However, where Meg is wrong is in her implication that our politics might not actually result in everyone she loves dying or the planet exploding. Those things really could happen, thanks to our political system! I mean, we can’t get START ratified!"
And, of course, he's right that these things really could happen. But where I think he's wrong is: same is it ever was. If Mrs. Weasley could leave the Potterverse, her clock would always be pointing at "in mortal danger" for everyone. The Sword of Damocles is never not hanging over our heads. The world literally could end at any minute. Economic devastation is always right around the corner. And it's always been that way. Security is an illusion. But a nice one. It's why I think people believe in God and Sarah Palin (oh, I'm sure I pissed off a lot of people there.... I kid, I kid!)
Paul and I are of like minds in so many ways, but we have, I think, one difference: he thinks things are worse now than ever. I think they're just about the same but we know a lot more. Who's to say who's right? But I think we live in unique times that are also entirely like every time ever before. Unique in that we have so many channels for information. We no longer rely on the stentorian tones of Walter Cronkite to tell us what to think. We now have voices upon voices interpreting every event. Not unique, in that it's about the same scary shit that's almost always happening.
One of the things that Jon Stewart said during his rally that really resonated with me was "when everything is amplified, you can't hear anything." I'm taking this break because I found myself at a point where I felt assailed by the information and opinionating and the goddamn wearisome snark.
Politics matter. As the late, lamented Molly Ivins said, they are part of the warp and woof of our lives, and we have an obligation to understand what's happening in our world. But we are assailed with information, from all sources, with interpretations upon interpretation of that information until it gets to the point where it's almost impossible to find any perspective. And so, I walked away. After the New Year, I'll come back. But, until then, it's going to be all mystery novels and Christmas specials and Star Trek recaps. And I think that's OK. For a while.