Focus Your Dread

Remember Kim Jong-un? You know, Asian guy on the chubby side, flat top, likes to shoot missiles and do away with relatives. I bet you haven’t thought of him in a while, but he’s still there attacking the ocean. Have you considered why you haven’t worried about him lately?

Life has become too much like television — it’s impossible to keep up with all the things we should be worried about. I realized this the other day while I was trying to calm myself down about the coronavirus.

I’m on the verge of elderliness — almost but not quite as old as most presidential candidates — so it seemed to me that dreading a pandemic wasn’t a lot different from dreading all sorts of other things in my lifetime. I’ve lived through dreading atomic bombs (duck under the desks!), the Vietnam War draft, Ebola, school shootings (duck under the desks!), a bombing in Oklahoma, 9/11,  terrorism, SARS, recession, climate change, Abu Ghraib … and more I’ve probably forgotten. I should be blasé about dread by now.

I’ve said this sort of thing about the current president before. If you’re of the anti-Trump persuasion, is he really the worst we’ve had? Have we already forgotten Katrina (“Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job”), an attorney general who needed a drape on a statue, a vice president getting us into horrible wars, tax cuts for the rich, and a disdain for science and sentence structure?

Isn’t every election the most important one in our lifetimes?

The only thing different about today is how well-informed and constantly exposed we are to the incredible variety of high-quality dreadfulness that we have to choose from. How is one supposed to keep up? How do we apportion our dread?

Some of you are expecting me to say we should just cheer up and not worry so much. I’m not going to say that. I am going to say that we need to focus and concentrate our terror. If you’re frightened of too many things, you can’t properly fear any of them.

I have a few suggestions for dealing with this trying time.

Binge watch. Pick just one terrible thing — presumably your favorite — and gather information only about that one. If your television commentator switches topic, switch the TV off and go find articles about your terror. You’ll develop expertise you can unleash at parties and you’ll be so occupied with studying that you may forget to be frightened.

Limit your viewing hours. You don’t have to hear bad news all the time. Limit your exposure to, say, half an hour each day and then watch The Bachelor, Masked Singer, Survivor, American Idol, Top Chef, Lego Masters, Queer Eye, and Project Runway. Reality won’t seem so bad.

Study the Civil War in detail. You’ll feel much better about today.

Why some polls can’t be trusted. Most of you have seen the news reports of a poll saying 38% of the population won’t drink Corona beer because of the coronavirus and some of you may have seen the articles questioning those reports.

Neither the reports nor the report skeptics got this right. What really happened here is hilarity.

Imagine your phone rings and someone who claims to be taking a survey asks you if you’ve stopped drinking Corona because of the coronavirus. What do you do once you stop laughing?

If you’re like me — and I’m sure 38% of population is at least a little like me — you say, “Sure. I stopped drinking a beer because it has the same name as a disease. That’s just science.”

Sixty-two percent of you have no sense of humor.

Astonishment. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission last week recommended that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who just got out of prison, be disbarred.

Ummm … this hasn’t happened already? Did they need a decade to think about it?

The governor must have had a thriving practice in prison.

More astonishment. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Super Tuesday had nothing to do with Comic-Con.

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