I’m going fishing today.
That might seem like an odd way to start an article about my recent Political Detox, but it’s not.
Fishing was the activity that acted as the catalyst for this process.
Waking up super early to go fish with my Dad, then get the kids ready and fish during the day… followed by prepping gear with my wife for our evening escapades. Loads of smallmouth bass, a couple pike, and a few fat panfish as the sun was coming up, sitting high in the sky. A few more as she left us, dipping low behind the Wisconsin tree line, coloring the clouds a magnificent red-orange for just a moment as the waves from the day calmed on the mighty lakes near Manitowish.
The wavering calls of the loons lingering just a bit longer. Their tremolo echoing from one side of the lake to the other as those vibrant colors would fade into darkness. Boat lights ignited, their green and red glow barely illuminating the left and right of each bow, as fishermen and pleasure boaters carefully made their way back home.
In an environment like this, it is so easy to separate all of the trappings of modern life. The “convenience” we enjoy, having all of the knowledge of the world, news, events and catastrophes right there in the palm of our hand.
No wonder we’re stressed. Human beings were not built for this amount of information.
Add on a heavy helping of clickbait, Twitter ramblings and political pontificators, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I was addicted to all of it.
Miserable all the time. A bad husband, a bad father – with a hair-trigger temper. Thankfully, our vacation took me far enough out of my comfort zone so I could realize what was happening, and why.
For the sake of my family, my business, and my sanity… it had to go.
What Did That Addiction Look Like?
It was subtle. Bubbling under the surface, always in the back of my mind, ruining everything.
I start every morning by reading “the news”. After checking a few sites, I hop over to read 8 to 10 Twitter feeds, to get a feel for the reaction(s) to said news. This can take about 2-3 hours as I drink coffee and “wake up” with the rage machine. At the end of the day, I catch up on daily events by watching YouTube commentary for 60 to 90 minutes.From Article: Fish for Bad Habits… Political Detox: Summary
This “summary” was a bit of an understatement, due to my embarrassment. If I’m being completely honest, we’re looking at over 4.5 hours each day spent as listed above – but add in another hour at lunch for political YouTube videos, and frequent social media pick-me-ups, usually upon the completion of even the smallest task.
Just gimme that little bump…
All told, we’re easily looking at over 6 hours.
I Quit ALL OF IT, Cold Turkey
By accident, at first. About midway through the first week of vacation it was replaced with other, more important things. When I realized it was gone, I just decided to not allow it back for a complete month.
What I Learned:
Each week, I learned something new, and wrote it all down. Here are just a few examples, with links to the complete articles.
WEEK 1 –
Two days ago, I realized how much I was not listening to my wife… jokes aside, I’m not talking about obeying, I’m talking about listening… it hit me like a ton of bricks… [she’s been forced to] carry the weight of her job by herself.
I was also able to get out to the local honey hole and do some fishing. It’s a far cry from the deep, clear lakes near Minocqua, but still fun.From Article: More time for Fishing… and then some? Political Detox: Week 1 Update
WEEK 2 –
A marriage is a partnership, and I was being a bad partner. [My wife] was carrying the events of her day at the hospital alone. [Now I listen, and you can tell ] she wants to be around me more. We’ve always loved each other, but there is a playful banter that has resurfaced in our relationship. It’s flirting… I started this Political Detox hoping to do more fishing, and instead I’m doing more flirting.
… the fishing keeps getting better as well…From Article: Fishing or Flirting? Political Detox: Week 2 Update
WEEK 3 –
I was so tired of being angry all the time. I didn’t feel right. My family was getting a mediocre version of me. My work was dull. Lackluster… [The more I stayed away from the “news”, the more I realized it] was all the same hosts saying all the same things telling me everything I should to be mad about with NONE OF THE SOLUTIONS! Anger without action is worthless.
… but there was something else… my overall attitude was lighter, and just as there had been a bit more flirting, there were many more jokes… like, a lot of jokes… it does my heart good.
How can we set a proper example of what it means to be a man for our children and grandchildren with so much hate in our hearts?
Not with that millstone weighing me down.
So set it aside.
Not forever, but for now.
This afternoon I’ll cut out early and go fish a Pop ‘n Drop. Time on the lake is good time, even without fish…From Article: Set Aside Your Millstone. Political Detox: Week 3 Update
WEEK 4 –
I [have] grown as an angler [and developed into] a better version of myself… fishing has helped me evolve as a father, as a husband and brother – as a man. It has taught me that failure is not uncommon, but it is also not the end – just an obstacle.
I’ve noticed exactly how hard it is to avoid both news sites and social media even throughout the day… I am [constantly] tempted to pick up the phone and check any – or all – of the sites & apps. “Just to kill time“, or “just to take a quick break“.
A quick peek won’t hurt… right?
Not only was I losing massive amounts of time in the morning and evenings in giant chunks, but intermittently throughout the day – and it is frickin’ HARD to not give in to the urge to check these things man! SERIOUSLY HARD. But by forcing myself to become aware of them through this detox process, I can really SEE them. I’ve been able to count just how many times throughout the day I am tempted to indulge… and it’s a LOT.
I don’t want to go back to the way it was.From Article: The End is Here. Political Detox: Week 4 Update
That line right there at the end – that is key…
I don’t want to go back to the way it was.
Yet… in spite of everything I have learned throughout this process, there are a few problems…
The Problems with Quitting 100%
I don’t like the fact that I feel completely uninformed. Not knowing current events makes me feel stupid, and more importantly – I feel unprepared.
Do you prep? What do you listen to in order to stay informed and feel prepared?
I miss keeping up with certain people on social media.
The truth is... there were also some hosts that I genuinely enjoyed... and I miss hearing their shows. There are times throughout the week that I could listen, without obsessing.
So the door that was closed has been cracked back open ever so slightly...
What I've Allowed Back In...
Eventually, I'll have a fully developed Plan for Frustrated Conservatives, but these are the initial changes to combat the problems above:
- The Morning Wire Podcast
Produced by The Daily Wire (Ben Shapiro, Jeremy Boreing, Matt Walsh etc.), this 15-minute daily podcast selects a few important stories to hit, without injecting opinion commentary. It is dry, but so far, it is a great way to filter the noise and get a brief summary of current events. I can listen to it without the joys of extremely elevated blood pressure.
- Political YouTube Clips
During lunch, I watch 1 of 4 things: fishing videos, Jordan Peterson, videos on Stoicism, or political commentators discussing pop culture - and ONLY pop culture. If Shapiro, or Knowles, or Walsh, or Tucker Carlson want to discuss something that is culture-specific, I'll allow it at lunch time... once in a while. I'll also let myself watch JP Sears, who is freaking hilarious.
- The Steve Deace Show
Carried by Blaze Media, Steve Deace, Aaron McIntire and Todd Erzen discuss politics and current events with a Christian worldview. During the initial stages of Covid, they were way ahead of the curve and predicted countless events that would come to pass. Once a week I have a 3+ hour drive , and I allow myself to listen to one commentator. Steve beats out all of the others that I used to listen to - he is excellent.
- Warrior Poet Society Network
If the misses wants to do a little hanging out in the evenings after the kids go to bed - I'll pull up John Lovell & co. I feel good about giving money to support these guys every month, just like I feel good about giving money to The Daily Wire. These groups are producing content that isn't woke - it's anti-woke in fact, and we need to support their efforts financially. Stop wasting time and money on Hollywood productions - they hate you and want you dead. That's not hyperbole. Look around - you can see what time it is...
- Measured Social Media
Each morning, I have a series of Core Requirements that I work through, These serve as my daily foundation. Things like email, sales calls, work tasks; general upkeep and communication that must be done. Facebook is like the kitchen fridge of communication. Everyone I went to high school with "sticks news and events" on that fridge. Unfortunately, several people also use it as their soapbox. I do check Facebook - one time, with a 15 minute timer - each day to answer messages and see what's happening. I run ads for clients on Facebook as well, but will NOT install the Facebook app on my phone. This would make wasting time too easy. Instagram is a part of what I do, so that is checked once a day as well, and I'm playing with Rumble a bit more. Twitter and TikTok are cesspools of death and decay, I have not allowed either back into my life. At all.
With these small additions to my schedule, I now have a measured, regulated approach to both news & events, opinions and pop culture commentary.
I don't feel like I'm MISSING anything, or LACKING... and I know that most importantly, it is not having a negative impact on me as a person, as a father, as a husband - and as a man.
It's not perfect, but it's a vast improvement over where I was, and I believe a successful conclusion to this Political Detox process. (More updates will be posted in the coming months.)
If you're on the fence, let me give you the nudge: try it, see what you learn about yourself. You'll be glad you did.
I'll see you on the other side.
For the full explanation of what this Political Detox is, and the habits it’s addressing, please see: Fish for Bad Habits…
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.
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