I have a HOT TAKE. Things are not that bad.
I know, I know. Everything is going to hell. That’s what it feels like. Police are shooting unarmed black men. Execs are harassing women. Terror attacks are rampant. Nazis are marching in the streets. Crime is through the roof. A demented narcissist is the most powerful man in the world. David Cross and Lena Dunham said bad things. You’ve got ADD or some other disorder.
But maybe, just maybe, the biggest issue is that we keep viewing the world through a prism of outrage. Our phones and social media are deliberately designed to manipulate our brains with a cocktail of fear, outrage, and victimhood. Saying things are fine doesn’t get any likes. Nuance doesn’t get any retweets. Hope is a losing strategy online. So we all keep getting sucked into this vortex of misery.
Take a deeper look: The police are treating black people better than they ever have. Powerful men are harassing women less than they ever have. The alt-right goons now can’t even get a large enough group together to field a soccer team. You’re more likely to get hit by lightning than be the victim of a terror attack. Crime numbers are actually at historic lows. Our President is completely incapable of accomplishing anything — our system of checks and balances is working. David Cross and Lena Dunham are both creative and funny and decent human beings and artists who said something off and we all do that sometimes so maybe we can all try to cut them some slack? And that thing that’s wrong with you, there’s a pill for that. (In fact, the people who sell the pills probably invented the disorder and the truth is there’s actually nothing wrong with you. You’re normal. You’re okay.)
We’re getting there! Mueller is on the case! Bill Gates is saving millions of lives! White people are listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander! A short, pregnant, Asian lady made the best comedy special of the past two years! Two of the best shows on TV are made and PRODUCED by Aziz and Donald Glover! And OBAMA! Goddamn Obama. He was President. He was our President. For 8 years, we did the right thing. Don’t you forget it. We can do the right thing. I love Obama and I will not stop talking about him and how great he is as a human being. Fuck yeah, Obama. Thank you.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t stop fighting to make things better. Keep fighting. It’s working. I’m just advocating for taking a look at how far we’ve come. And recognizing sometimes you take two steps forward, one step back. And also realizing that being positive is a better way to change people’s minds then just yelling at them. MLK got up there and talked about his dream. He didn’t post 5,000 tweets with the hashtag #ihaveanightmare. You gotta give ’em some sun with the shadows.
It’s these damn phones. We all need to take a deep breath, put down our phones, go for a walk, experience real relationships, and nurture each other. We need to remember that hope is good for our souls, if not for our follower counts. We need to look at all the progress we’ve made and celebrate how far we’ve come. We need to be rational instead of being slaves to our emotions. Because that’s how they manipulate us. We go online and play the outrage slot machine every day and our brains like it the same way rats can’t stop pressing that cocaine button in the lab. “I caught someone else doing something bad…LIKE me!” Refresh. Gah, we’re a nation of snitches. How lame is that?
Get off the rage train. Talk to people you love. Go for a hike and be around trees. Watch some live music. Go to the farmer’s market and taste real food. Stop swallowing the poison. We don’t have to ride this flume of horrors just because it makes more money for Facebook.
In the HISTORY of the world, we’re the richest, safest, healthiest, luckiest people who’ve ever lived. We should be celebrating. We live in the wealthiest, strongest country ever. Sorry to the MAGA maggots, but America is already pretty great. Perfect? Nah. Room to get better? Of course. But let’s remember how lucky we are too. Take a minute and think about that and try to feel some gratitude. It might not get you any Likes but I got some not fake news for you: Likes don’t mean shit.