‘Destination’

November 28, 2020

A settled-quiet this early-evening Saturday here in California’s Central Valley — a welcome respite from a torturous grind of information producing a sad form of befuddled anxiety, or maybe, and most-likely, I’m experiencing just a station-break from this year’s clusterfuck of unsettling, weird-ass Twilight Zone episodes.
News reports today seemed a bit blurry, looking like yesterday’s shit rehashed without anything of original substance introduced, or perhaps the idiotic-crazy has been normaized so much it takes a big something to become news worthy.

Between a pandemic that is ‘“…rounding the corner into a calamity,”‘ and an US president sulking like ‘“Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won,’”‘ a heavy load is hoisted on the brain that sometimes reminds me of Pinball saying, ‘“We be fucked.”

However, in the age of both COVID-19 and the T-Rump, there’s words for what we do (along with a facsimile sense of journalism) — Doomscrolling (or Doomsurfing): ‘…new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.
And yet there’s a science to this shit, though, bad news in the past like terrorist attacks or natural disaster just don’t stack-up to 2020.
New research noted via ABC News this morning:

Research like this helps us to understand how bad news can affect our mental health, but one of the study’s authors said that 2020 is difficult to compare to other events because of the sheer volume of negative stories.
This year’s exceptional slurry of bad news makes it hard to tell if the effects are magnified or not, but that is something that future studies will hopefully elucidate.
“We’ve had so much news from COVID-19 and the economic breakdown to the reckoning with racial injustice combined with hurricanes and firestorms,” said Roxane Cohen Silver, a research psychologist at the University of California, Irvine.
“It’s clear the stress of the election has added to all this.”

The situation is probably made worse, she said, because it can feel as though we’ve lurched from one crisis to another this year before we’ve even had time to recover or process what happened.

Others agree. “So much of it is open-ended and uncertain at the moment,” said Graham Davey, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.
“That alone is something that people find extraordinarily stressful.”

This is what psychologists refer to as an “intolerance of uncertainty,” and, unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle, according to Davey.
“There will be a lot of people out there in 2020 who find listening to the news stressful and anxiety-provoking but can’t stop doing it because they need to know what on earth is going on.”

Fortunately, there are things that people can do to protect their mental health from the potentially damaging effects of obsessively consuming news.
“It’s important to be informed but we don’t want you to be doomscrolling,” said Andersen.
“Check the news just once a day, and I don’t think it’s best to check in the morning because it clouds the rest of your day.”
She also recommends confining yourself to well-established and credible news sources to avoid the risk of hyped or misleading news.

Unfortunately, that’s hard for nearly half this country. Way-fortunately, however, in combating both these problems — COVID-19, and the T-Rump and all his asshole crowd — we do have destinations in sight: Vaccines for the former, and inauguration of Joe Biden as president in 52 days for the latter. And both can’t come fast enough.

In this respite, a couple of arrangements of one of my most-favorite songs with a strong point of a destination is early-90s “What’s Up,” by 4 Non-Blondes:

And I recently discovered this incredible cover by The Running Mates that is really, maybe, a little bit more emotional (though, way-no blemish on the original):

25 years and my life is still
Tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination

I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means

And I try
Oh my God, do I try
I try all the time
In this institution

And I pray
Oh my God, do I pray
I pray every single day
For revolution

25 years and my life is still
Tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination, mmm

And here we are…

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Hell Canto 2: Giants,’ found here).

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