The Problem of Polarization

Picture this. You wake up in the morning, put on a pot of coffee and turn on the radio while scrolling through Twitter on your phone. “Michael Brown…riots…tear gas…Eric Garner…school shooting…racial profiling…Bill Cosby alleged rapist…” is what you hear in the background while looking at the memes of cats perfectly describing your Monday. There is nothing in between. There is murder and rape and the world going to hell and then there are dogs on scooters and Ryan Gosling telling you how pretty you are.

The more I realize that this is how our society is constructed, the more I have a problem with it. When extreme emotion is the only thing you are allowed to feel, it normalizes mental health issues. Manic depression, bulimia, binge eating disorders, and to an extent suicide and schizophrenia, seem commonplace when all your exposure comes from the extremes. It is not okay to be bored anymore; that’s why we have phones. It is okay to have an epic bachelor party where famous people show up, and it is okay to feel completely helpless that the world is falling apart. I am not an expert in psychoanalysis, but I’m pretty sure this is not healthy.

Life should be about balance. It should be about splitting your time and energy between friends, family, work, significant others, school, and fun. When one of those things gets too much attention, you’re not only that asshole who never shuts up about “how busy they are,” but you are not doing any favors to your well-being.

Don’t get me wrong; I think that these extreme events like the Ferguson shooting and Tamir Rice case warrant consideration and attention. I believe that racial profiling and the abuse of law enforcement is a topic with lots of layers and history to be considered. At the same time, who doesn’t love a list of the world’s worst family portraits? Both of these things are important. But when you ONLY know these two things, you are boxed into two extremes to fit. I think this can be especially difficult for men in our culture, who are not “supposed to be” sad or upset. Over 78% of suicides in the United States are male, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Let yourself be bored. Read a book. Watch something fascinating, not horrifying. We need to start exposing ourselves to non-extremes. From my exceedingly limited knowledge of eastern religions, I believe that many of them such as Buddhism and Hinduism stress the importance of balance. I think everyone needs a little bit more balance in their life. But then again, this is coming from someone with enough time on her hands to think about things like this.

And here's a teacup pig dressed as a cowboy
And here’s a teacup pig dressed as a cowboy

One Comment Add yours

  1. Will Boersma says:

    I can’t agree anymore with this, Annie. It seems today that if you’re not going a million miles an hour, you waisting yours and everyone else’s time. Which I believe is complete bull$#!t.
    Boredom is underrated and looked down upon as being unproductive and wasteful, when actually some of the best ideas in life come from boredom. Take the story— I use “story” just because I know fear backlash from anal-truth-seekers— of Sir Isaac Newton, the apple, and the recognition of gravity. Was he at a raving party or over-achieving in school as he sat under that apple tree? No! He was reading a book when an apple fell on his head. He did not instantly come up with “gravity” at that moment, but it got him asking and thinking, “Why?”. And why did he do that? Because it interested him and he found that it was something he wanted to look further into. To quote Neil Gaiman, “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored.” So, why do we not let ourselves be bored? Why do we not let ourselves go after whatever it is we’re interested in, rather than just doing what society encourages us to do? I’ll tell you why; it’s because society discourages boredom.

    Which is complete bull$#!t

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s