Do you ever get the feeling that everything is just too much? Too much bad news. Too much media. Too much poverty and abuse in the world. Too much crime, conflict and consumerism. Too much Trump. The wars are unending. Cancer is rampant and still impacting far too many lives. I’m personally spending too much time on Facebook, too much time reading newspapers and not enough time being productive, whatever that is. So many issues are pressing on me to take a moral position—the new niqab laws in Quebec, political rhetoric, women’s issues, saving the environment and bettering humanity. Are our politicians ever going to actually represent the interests of the people and not just their own political interests? And now, O.J. Simpson is back out on the dating scene, living the high life. Are we on the eve of destruction or have things always been this bad? And, as a baby boomer, I remember the protest riots against the Vietnam war, racism and threats of nuclear war we experienced in the fifties and sixties.
The irony is that I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m retired with a comfortable home, a great husband and financial security. But television commercials, billboard and magazine advertising are always reminding me that I should be better, do better and generally live my life better. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I still fall far short of the best me. I still drink Diet Coke from time to time. I do not practise yoga or lift weights to build bone density. I do not volunteer time to help my community and I should probably give more of my time and energy to worthy causes. I’m now about three months into my latest television news sabbatical which spares me listening to some of the wretchedness of the world. And reading the newspaper with my morning pot of tea allows me to skip over the parts that cause me stress.
Am I a bad person?
I never miss Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO on Friday night. His liberal (to be clear, that’s a small “l”) perspective is interesting and thought-provoking. But last week he wacked me upside the head with his final comments at the end of the show slamming our obsession with digital media—Facebook in particular (YouTube link below). It was a reminder that FB can and has been a dangerous tool in mind-control for political purposes. It’s largely an exercise in vanity and ego inflation. He suggests it has moved away from its original purpose of sharing—in a good way. Ouch! I know I spend too much time on Facebook. I use it to extend the reach of my blog and post little to no personal content. I also enjoy keeping track of people I have little other contact with, scoring great recipes from time to time and seeing what friends and acquaintances are up to on FB. I can’t disagree with him but I still love Facebook and the internet. Does that make me a loser? Am I part of the problem?
Consumerism is superseding community
I love to follow blogs for baby boomer women and in the course of my searching have come across a few sites that are shockingly materialistic. In particular, one blog resells designer purses, shoes and accessories and quite frankly following the postings is one of those guilty pleasures I can’t resist. When I read that someone is selling a $1,200.00 pair of Valentino cage heels because she’s bored with them after one or two wearings, I’m practically apoplectic. Or what about the top half of a teeny tiny boring little Gucci bikini (she lost the bottom half!!!) that cost more than a thousand dollars for a few square inches of boring navy fabric. The other day there was a $12,000.00 Rolex watch for resale (not sure what the original price was). My posted comment “What on earth do you have to do for a living to afford accessories like this?” was removed by the moderator. I feel ashamed to even read these postings but my indignation keeps my blood pressure surging. There are obviously people out there with problems that do not involve global warming or worrying about whether Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are going to nuke us off the face of the earth.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the advocates of minimalism and much as I admire their ethic, it’s not something I could ever achieve. While it’s lovely and virtuous to imagine living with one good jacket, the perfect pair of jeans and a few tee shirts, it’s not going to happen in this household. And for that I feel guilty. I feel guilty that there are clothes in my closet that are never worn but for a variety of reasons (you know what I’m talking about) cannot part with them. I feel helpless when I see the endless ads on television asking for money for children living in poverty overseas. I know there are so many people in the world who have miserable lives and I’m so blessed.
The more I hear, see and read about, the more stressed and depressed I get. This is despite the fact I’m retired and no longer facing daily workplace stress, sexual or gender discrimination, financial difficulties or serious health problems. But because so many others are, I cannot clear my head and find a way of living with peacefully with my blessings. At the same time, I don’t want to isolate myself from what’s happening in the world by eschewing media completely. Perhaps it’s time to dig out my gratitude journal and start making daily entries again. Am I alone in feeling this way? How do you cope with the wall of bad news we encounter every day?
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