Monday, February 16, 2015

Wrath Is A (Mostly) Avoidable Sin

You are what you consume. Mentally, you are what you read, hear and see.

At lunch after Mass with one of our sons yesterday, he asked me if I thought the nation was more divided politically than it had been in a long, long time. I said I thought it was.

Social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs like this one give everyone a voice. With so many to choose from, it's almost trivial to limit what you consume to people who think just like you. I would argue that for the most part, politically active people have organized themselves into bubbles. The only information that breaks the boundary are things designed to get everyone worked up and reinforce the culture within the bubble. That's why the conservative Twitterverse was echoing with photos of Obama with his selfie stick (he's a narcissist!) and the progressive one goes into histrionics every time a black person gets shot by a cop (racism!).

The dude was given a selfie stick. It's OK. It's not a sign of mental illness. For every black shot by a cop there are hundreds shot by other backs. It's not racism, it's a marker of societal breakdown.

My browser home page is a table of links I maintain myself. I used to have a section labeled "politics" which included Instapundit, Hot Air, Ricochet and Real Clear Politics. That home page dominates my Internet consumption. It's designed to give me the links I want every time I open the browser. My politics links reinforced my bubble and gave me many doses of outrage every day. Like a good, little foot soldier for The Cause, I responded with dutiful anger.

Today, I wiped out that section. In its place, I added to my sports section. One site in particular, Squawka, can fill up my Internet leisure time quite easily.
I could spend hours every day on Squawka.
My outrage stimuli gave me grist for the blog. It was simplicity itself to find something to rail against. A daily blog is a remorseless, information-eating machine so those political red-meat hurlers gave me the catalysts I needed to whip out yet one more diatribe and feed my blogging beast.

It also wasted irreplaceable neurotransmitters on pointless anger. Due to limited fuel supplies in your head, you can only have so many thoughts in a day. One more blog post here about how Hillary Clinton is a power-mad harpy is going to be read by 40 people at the cost of burning quite a bit of my mental fuel.

Pointless, wasteful and more than that, sinful.

I know I've blogged about this in the past many times. Vows have been taken, held for a while and then dropped. I'm a fallen creature, bound to err. I'm also forgiven when I confess and atone. With each such renewal comes a chance to make changes to at least reduce the frequency of my failures. Maybe by spending more time on Squawka and less on Instapundit I can see some progress.

It can't hurt.

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