Boycott. The Embargo. It was draconian and complete.

Right after the election, Erik Hagerman decided he’d take a break from reading about the hoopla of politics…Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan. He swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.

“It was draconian and complete,” he said…It was just going to be for a few days. But he is now more than a year into knowing almost nothing about American politics. He has managed to become shockingly uninformed during one of the most eventful chapters in modern American history. He is as ignorant as a contemporary citizen could ever hope to be.

James Comey. Russia. Robert Mueller. Las Vegas. The travel ban. “Alternative facts.” Pussy hats. Scaramucci. Parkland. Big nuclear buttons. Roy Moore. He knows none of it. To Mr. Hagerman, life is a spoiler…

It takes meticulous planning to find boredom. Mr. Hagerman commits as hard as a method actor, and his self-imposed regimen — white-noise tapes at the coffee shop, awkward scolding of friends, a ban on social media — has reshaped much of his life…The fact that it’s working for him — “I’m emotionally healthier than I’ve ever felt,” he said — has made him question the very value of being fed each day by the media. Why do we bother tracking faraway political developments and distant campaign speeches? What good comes of it? Why do we read all these tweets anyway?…

“I had been paying attention to the news for decades,” Mr. Hagerman said. “And I never did anything with it.” At some point last year, he decided his experiment needed a name. He considered The Embargo, but it sounded too temporary. The Boycott? It came off a little whiny. Mr. Hagerman has created a fortress around himself. “Tiny little boats of information can be dangerous,” he said…

~ Sam Dolnick, excerpts from The Man Who Knew Too Little (NY Times, March 10, 2018)

Comments

  1. Wow what a terrific experiment! Admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wow, i admire his plan and his fortitude – don’t think i could do it in such a strong way

    Liked by 1 person

  3. freddiegeorgia says:

    Man oh man is he gonna be bombarded when he rejoins!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This has huge appeal these days, and yet…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christie says:

    I like what Erik Hagerman is doing…I often have no cell days, no computer days, no tv or radio days.. it must been more than three years since I voluntary started to unplug…I noticed that social media started getting out of hand with pushing topic that must be of interest to me…ah, no they are not…got so old…so I just didn’t go on, deactivated my book of face for a few months at a time, then I checked in – signed on once to send a message and found that messaging had change and I didn’t want to upgrade so deactivated, been over a year now …Life needs to be lived in communion with other people (one on one), time spent in family time, time spent out in nature, time in solitude – listening, thinking and in pursuit of interests, in service to others…making a living, making Memories…etc —ah, leisure time, mid 60’s today I hope to spend time on the garden bed (had only 3 and 1/2 hours of sleep last night) Must spend time outside!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. He is not dumb to pay no attention to the news!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sure this is healthy, but doesn’t come easy. I’m practicing “media by-pass” in small spurts, not watching/ listening to anything in politics for a few days at a time. My friends have learned to shut up when they start “what do you think of…” and I say “right now not listening”. And we talk about more uplifting topics, such as birds, dogs or the goings on in our lives…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve read somewhere here in a Canada a couple decided to live off the grid, god who knows how long. When they came out, they were shocked to see that cell phone was invented. I stopped buying newspapers. Does that count? I still don’t have cell phone. Bored? Never. Hi David. I’ve even gradually limiting computer interaction. If I do, I make sure it’s worth putting my thoughts down. Perpetua

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I admire his fortitude. I’ve dialed my news consumption waaayyyy back…had to do it for my mental health. But as Mimi points out, can’t bring myself to unplug completely. Just too fearful of not knowing what disaster is about to strike…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I don’t know what to do. I can look the other way but it’s everywhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Having done a similar experiment myself, I can’t recommend this enough. In 1988 I ditched tv and radio until 911. The news was what happened to family and friends, the weather was known by looking out the window. Not only did I survive, I thrived!
    The take away for me was that the political drama didn’t affect me. And observing those who were fully engaged made me see how manipulated we all are by the media, which leaves us feeling terrible, terrified, guilty and powerless.
    Although I do have lots of media devices now, I can’t be a true believer. I just don’t have it in me. I’m not interested in knowing what your political views are. I’d rather know what makes you sing, laugh, cry or write, or anything else about you, not what your response is to the news of the day.
    Having said that, I completely respect everyone’s journey and their choices.
    Thanks for posting this David.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such an interesting experient. I don’t listen to the news or watch regular tv any more. My filter is my husband who reads the Boston Globe and New York Times every day. He updates me most lunchtimes and I calm him down.
    My anti Trump treat is to connect to the WP blog, the Shinbone Star.
    Humor, yoga and meditation gets me though my days 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yep. LIke quite a few of your readers, I refuse to watch the news, will not buy the newspapers. I see enough crap on Facebook but even that I hide. I refuse to be bombarded by the scare tactics of the media. I’m much rather spend time reading blogs like yours, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. He certainly looks happy David! I sometimes think that the whole thing is a sham. Bring in the clowns, you know? It’s sad how we have devolved from political discourse to endless debate to hyperbolic demonizing. Where do we go from here?

    Ignoring each other, at least on the political issues, is an understandable temptation, but I feel too invested in what happens to do that. I get most news from PBS, read online a little, try to recognize the hyperbole and just ingest the truth. It’s hard. Especially now.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. At first, I thought this was fictional and or a spoof article. I went to the original link to find out, no, the guy is seriously avoiding media. I don’t know if i could survive at length without some input. I could go a day, maybe, unplugged.

    Liked by 1 person

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