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.