Friday, December 2, 2016

Pain, Elections, Social Media, and The Blahs

By November 7, 2016, a swollen spinal cord was making it nearly impossible for me to sit, walk, drive, or even rest. The next morning, my wife managed to get me to the urgent care center at our physician's office. His staff called in the doctor, who sent me off to the emergency room.

Election day was spent with morphine, Percocet, an MRI, and a really bad reaction to the mix of painkillers and pain. My wife still stopped by the polling station on the way home from the ER that afternoon and we both voted. It was the most painful election ever.

Worse than the election has been the days following.

This is my own fault. I've been stuck in bed, on painkillers. Unable to type on my laptop, unable to sit and read for any sustained period of time, I have been consuming social media.

Normally, I would have been outside during the daylight hours (four more decorative grasses to plant) and watching movies for my MFA classes. Instead, my semi-lucid moments were spent reading the paranoid, anxious, depressed, distraught… you get the idea.

Unless you're posting photos and comments from a celebration, vacation, or other positive event, most social media posts are negative. That negativity feeds more negativity. Insult, bash, complain, earn some "likes" and replies. Maybe a good cat photo will do the same, but the longest threads and most "likes" I've seen this week are negative posts.

If I could be out and about, I wouldn't be reading these posts. I'd be in my yard. I'd be baking cookies. I'd be playing with my cats. Anything would be healthier than reading social media, and I know that.

Before you tell me how wrong I am, how much we need to be posting and sharing our anxieties, let me point out that I'm writing from my perspective: I don't need the negativity.

I need to recover. I need to get up and about the house. I need to get moving again.

The negativity will pass, I assume, after some sort of cathartic tipping point. Judging by my social media feeds, people really need that tipping point soon.

Plenty of people disagree and cannot relax. They will spend the next four years or more paranoid and worried. I'm all for vigilance, but I've now endured paranoia by the opposing side after each election since 1980. Reagan was going to lead us into nuclear war. Bush was going to use the CIA to control the world. Clinton was going to refuse to leave office (and he had some sort of secret killing squad). The paranoia isn't worse than it was in 1980, but people have forgotten how bad it was.

Take a break from social media. Go for a walk. Talk about anything non-political.

We'll have enough time to argue policies soon enough.