Hyper-Partisan Dystopian Hellscape?
The election cycle of 2016 may live forever as the start of the hyper-partisan and downright disgusting presidential campaigns the United States has witnessed in modern times. There were so many vectors and blame, anger, and lies spread that it seemed to have done irreparable damage to truth.
It has taken some real effort to stay mindful and calm during and after the campaign. If you use social media at all, you see the memes and lies that friends, family, co-workers, and others spread with reckless abandon. People generate these things to make you angry. Many people continually fall for it, and it helped win an election. This is not intrinsic to the United States, but is becoming commonplace as a weapon.
Irrespective of your political leanings, this sort of hyper-partisan landscape is not healthy at all. It is tearing relationships apart, and creating the very dystopia that we are trying to avoid. Make no mistake, barring any conspiracy theory, it seems to be by design. It’s a monster that the creators lost control of and is now freely destroying minds everywhere.
For those of us who want to reclaim our humanity and our minds, we have a few choices. We can ignore politics and people completely and shut ourselves out. We can engage in the mud slinging and lies, and help bring the system down, or we can be mindful of the effect that this crap has on us and gain back our sanity.
I choose the latter.
Once we realize what these memes are doing to us, we can begin to undo the damage. This works for both liberals and conservatives, and anyone in-between. We can remain politically minded, but cut through the bullshit that is designed to enrage us.
How Do We Turn Off The Meme Effect?
The next time you see a meme, take pause. Take a minute to stare at it and absorb it. Then close your eyes and pay attention to what it is making you feel. Most of the time, you will see the image and words, then you’ll start to feel angry at the injustice or whatever it is telling you. (This is the same with advertising.) Pay attention to what your body does. Are you tensing up? Do you feel a knot in your chest or stomach? Is your jaw clenching? Is your heart beginning to beat faster? Are you agreeing with the meme or disagreeing and getting unhinged?
If yes, congratulations, you’re normal. You are human, and therefore affected by the messaging. These things are not “dumb crap” created by idiots, but smart weapons designed to illicit a response and go viral to affect as many people as possible. The creators know what they are doing, for better or worse.
What we can do to limit the effect is to understand how they affect us and use mindful techniques to stop them cold. Then, make sure we don’t spread these by sharing them, thus limiting their ability to infect others. Memes are a virus, and we are complicit in helping them spread and do damage.
When you see one and start getting affected, use any of the mindfulness techniques detailed on this site. The trick is to do this:
- Stop and close your eyes (if safe to do so)
- Feel what is happening in your mind and body. (They are linked)
- Begin to breathe, and turn your attention to your breathing.
- In and out, in and out.
- Breathe deeply.
- Feel calm wash over you, and if it’s not working, keep going till it does. (This is the parasympathetic nervous system kicking in.)
- When you feel calm, open your eyes, and move on.
- If you ruminate on the meme, it will eat you alive. Repeat steps one through seven again and again until it loses power over you and you chill out.
Try it and let me know in the comments if this help you at all. It helps me and has certainly helped me weather the political storm we are in these days. Not only that, but mindfulness has helped me see truth through all the garbage. It keeps me objective and middle-grounded , believe it or not. When you are calm and not emotional, you gain insight and can see both sides of an argument. This is great in helping with empathy, which the world needs more of.