This is all so damn infuriating.
And once again, I don’t just mean the news, because by now we all realize the sheer scope of what’s unfolding. I won’t refer to it as “chaos” or “madness,” because there’s been a profound, inevitable logic to it all. And as I mentioned two weeks ago, the narrative is so blatant, so on-the-nose, that there’s not an MFA-wielding dramaturg on any theater’s board that would allow this story to be put up on the stage. Think of it – as she lays dying on Rosh Hashana, Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks that her replacement not be named until after the inauguration – and when her opponents flout her wishes with a celebratory public event every participant winds up being struck down by a deadly plague?!?! You or I would be laughed out of any producer’s office if we proposed such a plotline. You’d have to get Stephen King and a resurrected Isaac Bashevis Singer to ream up on a West Wing reboot to have the necessary start clout for such an idea to see the light of day.
But that’s the story on our television screens and laptops, and all of us are watching.
The newly coined word, I believe, is “doomscrolling.” Compulsively scanning Twitter feeds, both respectable and not, to glean some bit of new information, catch up with the latest hairpin plot twist. It’s impossible not to do it; it goggles up hours of time. And of coutse, time spent doomscrolling is time not spent doing anything else.
Well, that’s not entirely true, at least for me. I’m still co-hosting Tuesdays at Nine, still selecting pieces to read and casting over the weekend. Unfortunately, this means I have to reach out to actors and writers who are all also busy doomscrolling, and so the necessary commnications and finalizations all wind up taking the whole weekend to achieve.
That’s the bulk of my available free time, staring at my laptop, passively waiting for responses to come in. Waiting for things to happen.
And that’s what’s so damn infuriating. These are perilous times that demand some sort of action, dammit. And while the more conscientious of us may be staying indoors to keep everybody helping (and not, y’know, attending public events to celebrate the deaths of our political opponents), there’s still things we can do. Things we can write. Amounts we can donate. Actions we can take. But so many of us, despite our best intentions, are effectively paralyzed, helpless to respond to unfolding events because we’re transfixed by the coverage of those very events.
I’m taking a personal day on Wednesday, to try and get some writing done. Hopefully I’ll be able to refrain from doom scrolling for at least part of that time.