It's no secret that our current world is rife with division and chaos. Everybody is either choosing a side, condemning a side, or trying desperately not to be on a side.. Even those who try to remain neutral will be shoved to one side or another by the masses, especially right now as the presidential election approaches and the candidate field is slowly slimming down. Simultaneously, the frenzy is ramping up. It reminds me of the 2-minutes hate from George Orwell's novel, 1984.
The 2-minutes hate was a daily 2-minute period where all the citizens of Oceania were required to watch a video of whomever might be the great enemy of the state at the time, in this case one Emmanuel Goldstein. For two minutes they watched a video of Goldstein speaking, and his words were mean and dirty lies in Oceania. As they watched, their hatred burned unbearably. Here's a quote from the book:
"Before the hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied, sheep-like face on the screen and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it were too much to be borne. Besides, the sight, or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or East Asia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these powers it was generally at peace with the other...
In its second minute, the hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening, bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out, "Swine! Swine! Swine!" and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off. The voice continued inexorably.
In a lucid moment, Winston found that he was shouting with the others, and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the two-minutes hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in."
I know what you're thinking: "this isn't from a novel, this is real life." But you're wrong. It was written in 1948. Uncanny, isn't it?
I don't share this to attack President Trump, or Vladimir Putin, or CNN, or Fox news. In fact, that's the opposite of my intention. I share this in hopes that we can get a glimpse of that last paragraph in our lives. In the frenzy of social media, election cycles, foreign scuffles with nuclear powers and the like, it's sometimes impossible to avoid joining in. Sleep is nature's way of helping us settle the day's inputs: things we read, interactions with people, ideas we've had, etc. We need sleep so our little brains don't get overloaded. But with the extreme amount of news, opinions, interactions, and ideas we encounter each day in this technologically advanced world, sleep isn't enough. That's why so many people are unsettled. Like Winston, we need as many lucid moments as we can get.
So when the foment has got you riled, put your phone down. Our phones have too much information for our minds to process and remain lucid, not to mention all that scientific blue light stuff which I don't understand enough to explain. Facebook and twitter comments can wait. Even texts and emails can wait. Instagram fire and thumbs up emojis can sure as hell wait. Don't make the moment of lucidity wait.
Read a book. Information input from reading a book tends to come at a much better rate for our minds to process and retain sanity. Further, books generally aren't written by people vying for your attention against a hundred other headlines and clickbaits. It doesn't have to be heavy reading. In fact, for most people struggling with phone frenzy I'd think light reading would be more sustainable and therefore the better option. Find a war novel or a mystery thriller and read the thing. It doesn't matter what it is, just make sure your phone is in another room.
Get your lawn chair out on a nice day and sit in it.
Do a workout with nothing in your ears. I recently ran a half marathon and it seemed there were lots more ear buds on that course than the last one I did about three years ago. Nearly everybody had something in their ears and a phone on a strap somewhere. And this was no dull training run, mind you. This was in Gruene, TX, right along the Guadalupe River. Among the prettiest spots in the state, and in my humble opinion, the South. But all that to the side, do a workout with nothing in your ears except your thoughts.
Jump in a cold lake. I'm serious. There is nothing so easy, so quick, and so effective for resetting the mind and flooding the body with endorphins. If everyone in the 2-minutes hate had been dunked in a cold lake for twenty seconds there's a one-hundred percent chance they would've forgotten about Goldstein. But if you don't have a cold lake nearby, take a cold shower. It's not like it's bad for you or anything.
You have ten more months until the election, and the 2 minutes hate will be playing somewhere the whole time. Now is a good time to start training for lucidity. By the time you finish January, maybe you will be ready for February. And if you stay consistent you might even stay sane through November. Good luck.