Dealing with the bleak
I’ve gone a whole day without looking at the news, or subjugated myself to doomscrolling the war in Ukraine. I got some sad family news this morning, and while that definitely put a dampener on my mood, I didn’t dwell on that more than necessary, I think. My dog is sick, I’m behind on sleep, and the workload is crazy.
I’ve put my head down, and gone to work.
Not that I have much choice, mind you, but knowing myself, and how I react when overwhelmed, I expected to lose it sometime last week already. I was, and I am being, saved by the fact that there are so many good things with the bad. Small things, material things, big things that seem small but really aren’t. Like being loved and seen, for example, or living in a country without a crazy despot waging war on your doorstep. Yeah, that last one’s a pretty big one.
I think we’re all a bit unbalanced at the moment. I know I am, and would be without my personal situation as well. It’s very much business as usual for some, where it isn’t for others. I see it with the agency’s clients. Some are barreling on like they’re the most important thing in the world, whereas others tackle the tragedy that is the Ukrainian war a bit differently. I’m uncertain if anyone’s doing anything wrong because it is, as after all, business as usual. Maybe you throw some of that business towards people in need, in private or as a company, but that doesn’t mean that you need to discuss it at all times.
It’s weird, though. It’s like you have to mention the war, as opposed to the popular phrase.
This isn’t the first war in my lifetime, but it is the one closest, and the one that feels the most dangerous. I’m not certain that matters in the grand scheme of things, but it matters to me.
I write and edit Switch to iPad, as I’m sure most of you know. There’s a paid subscription tier, and I’m happy to have people wanting to pay for my words. This month, I’m matching all new subscribers fees with a donation to UNICEF. It’s a good thing, I’ve seen others do similar things, but it still feels cheap to me. Like I’m freeloading, making a point, at the behest of people in need.
I’m not, obviously. I don’t really think anyone thinks of this, or me, like that, but that’s where the mind goes when things turn bleak. You know, post-doomscroll.
I write and edit WPSE too, a Swedish site and newsletter about WordPress. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to beg the sponsors for more money to run it. It’s better spent elsewhere, is what my mind is saying.
It does weird things with our minds, this world. It makes us sad and glum when we shouldn’t be.
It kills children, women, men, and people who really doesn’t want to be out there wielding guns. This world, it’s pretty wicked, sometimes.
Except it’s not, it’s the people in it. They’re not many, the evildoers, but they tend to be in positions of power. The worst part is, they stay in power longer if they lie, deceive, and oppress the people. This, in turn, means that the only way to get rid of them is to rebel. Blood on the streets, and all that. Military coups, secret deals with other nations… It’s muddy, oh so muddy.
You’ve thought it too, haven’t you, seeing the sanctions against Russia? "This will make them stand up to Putin. The people will rise."
Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. They probably won’t because they know what he, and his cohorts, do to dissidents. It’s not pretty. And you know this because the other truth is impossible for most of us: That the Russians like it the way things are.
They don’t. They just don’t know what’s true, or don’t feel like being gunned down in the street, to disappear, or to risk the lives of their families.
So, you think all those things, and then you turn to Twitter, watch all the madness, the cruelty, and read the hot-takes. Doomscrolling into oblivion, it’s nigh impossible not to feel bad about things.
You don’t have to do that.
Skip the news for a while. Don’t go on social media for a bit. If you can’t bring yourself to it, due to your dopamine-driven addiction to your smartphone, get a dumbphone. Give yourself a chance to breathe, to think, and then, maybe, you can act.
Because that’s where we’re going, where we have to go: To action.
This world isn’t going to get lighter, or even less bleak, by itself.