Today is August 24th – exactly 30 days have passed since the start of my rudimentary Political Detox, on July 25th.
Tomorrow… I’ll be done…
Yeah… done. Although I’m not sure what that means yet.
This experiment kicked off shortly after returning from Minocqua, Wisconsin. The annual family vacation. Being isolated up North makes it easy to stay away from the little rectangular rage machine we keep in our grubby hands – or at the very least, on our person – most of the day.
This same phenomenon repeated itself over the weekend during our annual BroTrip to Iron River. It was easy to leave the phone back at the cabin and go do stuff.
But before I left the state… before I went on these trips… it was not so easy…
I was addicted.
In a very literal sense. A rage addict. This recent time away from “the daily grind” allowed me to see that clearly for the first time in… well… in a long, long time.
It crystalized upon returning home.
As I was writing and thinking about how I had grown as an angler, I started to think more about the behaviors that had really helped me develop into a better version of myself. The sport of fishing (which as we know, is second to none) 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.
These days a very large group of people believe that failure is simply not possible.
They are told they can do no wrong, they are always right, and that society (and the entire world) needs to conform to them – not the other way around.
Therefore, when these individuals have an idea challenged, or when they are presented with facts that go against what they choose to believe, or what they “feel“, they shut down. They cancel. They cry. They safe-space. They have temper tantrums and try to block the offending ideas, instead of defending their own.
See, the lessons we learn from fishing are the polar opposite of the lessons we are being taught by social media, and even “the news”. It’s really something if you stop and think about it. The fish don’t give a rip about how you “feel”. You’re either in the right spot using the right bait at the right time, or you ain’t.
We all understand that being wrong is painful… it is hard to admit we’ve made a mistake. But being wrong AND stubborn AND belligerent will hurt you so much more in the long run.
This idea has been refined as it’s swirled around with so many others that have come to light throughout this 4 week process.
I’ve learned much more than I expected:
After week 1, I realized that I had been doing a very poor job of listening to my wife and kids. I needed to improve, and on top of that the amount of time I was wasting reading things that I had no control over in the mornings and evenings drastically reduced the time I could invest in fishing.
During week 2, my wife started to want to be around me more, and a playful banter that had gone missing in our home returned – with the kids as well. More laughter. More jokes. I could see the change as they were given the attention that I would have placed solely on my little glowing rage rectangle… and the sad thing is that I didn’t even realize it had gone missing. There was also a bit more flirting (*wink wink*) with the misses, and extra fishing to boot.
By week 3, I realized that the weight of information overload was negatively impacting every single aspect of my life. It was far more serious that I originally thought, and it was not just “the news” – it was also social media. How can you do your best in faith, family, work, hobbies – in life – with a millstone hanging around your neck? You can’t.
So now it’s week 4… and I’ve noticed exactly how hard it is to avoid both news sites and social media even throughout the day! There are so many little breaks and “in-betweens” as individual tasks are completed where I am 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.
These little interruptions snatch away at our time, bit by tiny bit, like the drip-drip-drip of a miniature waterfall that slowly, continuously, meticulously, erodes the stones below over millennia.
Droplet after droplet, it all adds up… and it’s been robbing us blind.
The end is here.
But what does that mean?
I don’t want to go back to the way it was.
Yet avoiding the news and online interactions forever is not feasible. I don’t like the fact that I know less about world events, I don’t like feeling uninformed, I don’t like missing out on the lives of friends & family that live all across the country… but…how can I regain some of that information without letting the anger eat me alive?
Without hurting the relationships I have rebuilt with my wife & kids?
Without losing the extra fishing time?
Without destroying my improved perspective of the world around me?
How do we take what we have learned, and re-enter these realms while keeping the evil at bay?
I don’t use the term “evil” lightly – I mean that with every fiber of my being.
There must be a way to do it. To navigate these waters.
So tomorrow, as I complete this initial phase of my Political Detox… that search will begin.
I’ll let you know what I find…
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.