Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How to keep your Trump Anxiety Disorder from becoming Trump Derangement Syndrome

Not only is Trump Anxiety Disorder (TAD) an actual diagnosis from actual therapists, but it's hard to trust anyone who isn't suffering from it; if you don't have at least a touch of TAD, you're not paying attention. Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) may be more of a pejorative diagnosis from Donald Trump's supporters at Fox News and Donald Trump himself, but it's also a real danger. While recognizing the real danger of Trump and Trumpism to the nation and the world, we shouldn't let it dominate our lives. A serious case of TDS would make it hard to appreciate all the non-Trump areas of our world; I can imagine a TDS sufferer getting so bad that doctors would prescribe a radical treatment of pulling all the electronic links and asking him or her to take a retreat to a world of nature hikes and vinyl records and books that were printed before 2016. During Vietnam and Watergate, I was very politically active, going to marches and writing letters to the editor -- maybe a little obsessed at times -- but there was no 24-hour news on television (there was no 24-hour television, period), so I got a natural break from Nixon to read books or listen to records or play guitar. There was literally no news available between the time the TV networks played the national anthem and signed off at midnight until the local newspaper arrived on your doorstep the next morning.
I was recently laid off. For the first time in forty years, I don't have a workplace to go to every day. I was worried about the temptation of daytime cable news and its ability to turn my TAD into a case of incurable TDS (I've seen those people on Twitter who tweet fanatically about every "Morning Joe" guest), so I've taken a few steps. I've lived completely without television for years before, but I didn't take that drastic step this time. I was able (after too much time on the phone with Time Warner Spectrum) to reduce the number of available channels to the lowest number, basically the New York over-the-air channels (if I lived in a place where I could get TV over the air) and C-Span and some shopping channels. No Netflix. No Amazon. No Hulu. No HBO. No ESPN(s). No Fox News (not that I watched anyway). No MSNBC (sorry, Rachel). No CNN. No panels of  "experts" trying to attract eyeballs 24/7/365 with manufactured political conflict. No Corey Lewandowski or Alan Dershowitz or Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway popping up unexpectedly on my television to cause an outbreak of TDS inflammation. It's not as good as the days when there were only three stations, but I have it close to the point where there's never anything on worth watching. Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I want to get to the point where I'm only tempted to watch PBS NewsHour and nothing else.
In addition to the steps I've taken with my TV, I'm also trying to cut down my time on Twitter, where  reactions to insane @realDonaldTrump tweets seem to hijack all conversations. I don't follow his account, but somehow I never miss a tweet of his as everyone on the left spreads his words. If you are following him on any social media platform, please stop; he assumes all followers (even the obviously fake accounts from Saint Petersburg troll farms) are supporters. You'll hear what he has to say anyway; you can't avoid it.
All that being said about steps to avoid TDS, let's not forget who made up the term. In an article in Salon by Chauncey DeVega two weeks before the inauguration, "You have been warned: 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' will be a cudgel used to silence his critics," the danger was explained succinctly:
The right-wing propagandists who will deploy "Trump Derangement Syndrome" against their enemies have one ultimate goal: to normalize the danger to American democracy represented by Trump and his supporters.

But still, I worry: