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Don't Be a Junkie Politico

Why staying highly informed can ruin your life

By Jamie JacksonPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Don't Be a Junkie Politico
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

If you follow mathematician and author Nassim Taleb on Twitter (he has over 780,000 followers and counting), you’ll notice two things. The first is he is an intellectual giant, a towering force of logic and reason. The second is he’s a cantankerous shit who argues with everyone.

How can such a clever man be so easily pulled into petty arguments with strangers on the internet? I once asked him if he’s so smart, why is he so angry all the time?

He didn’t respond.

I see this a lot. I know several very smart people who consume news like a junkie consumes tasty drugs. They compulsively keep up with current affairs, compulsively read and watch their favourite media sources to confirm their biases and compulsively pump fear and anger into their minds.

I too was like this. Brexit nearly broke me. I argued with friends, I argued online, I shouted at the television.

I voted to leave (if you care) and once we, as a nation, actually left I decided that was it. No more politics.

This was a very big deal for me. I’ve always been political. I have a degree in Politics and International Relations and I enjoy writing political essays almost as much as I enjoy winning political arguments.

But there was something I realised: There is no endpoint, and there is no moment politics is over. There will be no letup.

If you want to be furious about politics, you can be. Forever. There will always be something.

Equally, if you want politics to stop ruining your mental health, you can. But you have to check out, consciously.

Like booze and drugs, politics is an addiction. As you get addicted, you begin to define yourself by your views, your ability to win arguments, and your knowledge of current affairs. You stop becoming a person and start becoming a side.

It’s an endless mental trap leading only to unhappiness.

I’ve never known anyone get deeply into politics and be happier.

As Ayodeji Awosika wrote:

“I’ve never come across someone with politics as a central piece of their identity that looks happy. And political affiliation as a central piece of identity has been running rampant.”

I responded to this paragraph, writing “Oh boy, ain’t that the truth.” And someone responded to me, blaming Trump supporters, seemingly unaware he was doing exactly what Ayodeji was lampooning.

Politics is an insidious position.

Ranting about political issues seems like noble work but really, it’s hot gossip bullshit.

Taleb can argue on Twitter all he likes, but what is he solving? Who is he helping?

You can argue facts and figures until the cows come home (I did, and when they arrived they told me to shut up) but those cows don’t care and neither does anyone else.

James Altucher regularly talks about how news is negative daily input, there are no upsides to staying informed of current events. Whatever the news, he cannot help or make a difference. All he can do is try to live a good life and be a decent human being. So he stopped following the news. Problem solved.

Besides, there is no single truth. The older you get, the more you see your views changing. If you were so sure you were right before, what makes you right now?

There isn’t a right and wrong, just best guesses. Is there a “correct” way to tax a population? To run a healthcare scheme? To manage immigration? To stimulate economic growth?

No. Once you get past the cornerstones of democracy and human rights, it’s all personal interpretation. So we’re shouting at each other over things with no objective truth. We’re getting angry at each other over opinions, not facts.

Everyone thinks they’re the good guys, everyone thinks their approach is best. And who’s to say it isn’t?

You might be smart but delicious outrage will get you. It will seep into your life, pretending to be noble and important, steal your inner peace, and distract you from the things that really matter.

Don’t let it. Be aware. Start asking “Does my view on this move the needle in my life?” You don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to. You don’t need to get involved. It’s better to be kind than right. Let go. Breathe. Live.


About the Creator

Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night.

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Comments (2)

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  • Thavien Yliaster3 months ago

    Nice, peace of mind is something else. A state of being, a state of wellness. It reminds me that if You're always searching for problems You'll find them. However, if You always search for solutions You'll find those as well. Most of the time I think people just use politics as a way to separate themselves as they want to be uniquely special yet end up becoming part of an amorphous mass with which they identify with as they want to be right, righteous, and viewed as the ones that are to save others (even if they do end up putting people in bad situations to start with). Makes me think that a lot of people are still running on "Only winners get to write history."

  • L.C. Schäfer3 months ago

    Oh god, get out of my brain. It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that smart people are both annoyed and annoying. I was a Remainer, and holy shit I was the most insufferable P.O.S. about it. Ah well, we live and learn and hopefully become better people about it 😁 Do you still think leaving was a good idea?

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