Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I’m addicted to US news.

It felt like a survival tactic for years: know what was going on south of the border so that if the orange fascist-in-chief started a war, you’d at least be aware it was happening.

It was an anxiety control mechanism: if I understood everything that was happening, everything that mattered, I could feel better about my total inability to change what was happening.

Gradually, over the past couple of months, I have begun to realize how these patterns of anxiety played out. I have begun to recognize (again) that the US is a separate country, and I do not need to know how the Senate confirmation hearings for President Biden’s cabinet picks are going. I feel like I need to know, in the same way that I once needed to know the names of (far too many) counties in Arizona or Georgia, but the truth is, I don’t.

Nor do I need to obsessively follow the people on Twitter who used to tell me how terrible everything was. They’re still there. They’re still tweeting. But the adults are back in charge, and things are finally, blessedly calm.

You can log on to Twitter at any given point in the day and the hashtags are just normal, boring hashtags.

You can no longer immediately tell what the president has recently said or done from what’s trending.

I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m realizing how often I was in the habit of checking particular websites to see what was being said or done, how often my go-to ‘break’ was a quick troll through the international news, how much of my time and mental energy was sucked up every day by these habits, this need to know.

I am not for a minute suggesting that all the problems in the US have been magically solved with the arrival of the new administration, just that it is time I stopped paying as much attention to them.

I should know more about what is going on in my own country than I do about the state of the US.

That hasn’t been true for years.

I can easily name more governors than premiers. I can’t name a single Canadian supreme court justice, but I can rattle off the names of those who sit on SCOTUS.

I need to reset my priorities.

But addictions are hard to break.


Filed under Anxiety Overload, Soapbox

7 responses to “Breaking Up is Hard to Do

  1. Mary

    Too funny!

    But then I realized that I do exactly the same thing. Mutatis, of course, mutandis. I live in the US, so I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with the politics and policies of France. I tell myself that I watch all those news and talk shows just to practice my French. But, really, it’s a form of escapism and anxiety management. It’s a huge relief to hear that others are similarly focused on countries they don’t live in.

  2. Turia

    Ha! I love that you’re looking outwards too!

    I also follow Australian news closely, but that’s different since everyone in my household (except for me) is a citizen. Q. spends a great deal of time ranting about how badly Canada has mismanaged the pandemic compared to what’s been going on in Oz.

  3. Dana

    That is so true! I live in the US but also feel the grownups are back in charge and I can relax a bit. I have this extra time I no longer need to use to read the news that I have to figure out what to do with. I sometimes am scrolling on my phone and realize there’s really nothing I want to read about and need to just put it down!

  4. Turia

    YES! I have been doing this too – scrolling and clicking and checking and belatedly realizing there’s nothing I “need” to know.

  5. Yes!! It is SO much more quiet & peaceful now that we don’t feel the need to have CNN on 12 hours a day, lol. Dh would get SO worked up and then say, “Why am I so upset? it’s NOT MY COUNTRY!”

    I used to know the names of all 10 premiers, but I just realized that I can only name three of them right now with any certainty — Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba — and that’s probably because I went to high school with his sister, lol. (Who would have thought, 30-40 years ago, that the day would come when the premier of Quebec was not a household name?)

  6. Turia

    loribeth, I can name more provincial health officers than premiers!

  7. Haha, Turia, I probably can too!!

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