Numbing Out. Dumbing Down.

By Alison October 12, 2021 No Comments 4 Min Read

Recently, I keep finding myself walking the dreadfully unpredictable halls of Reddit in search of who knows what? Stimulation? Entertainment? Laughs? Horror? Disgust? Fright? Food for thought? Outrage? Heaven knows.

I read conspiracy theories and horror stories. I gawp at the people of Walmart and laugh at the ludicrous antics of those who aren’t the full shilling on Facebook. I oooh and ah at cute animals. Read one ghost story after the next, follow true crime investigations and once to my fascinated disgust found myself trawling a sub-reddit full of unidentified dead people, before I hurriedly switched the phone off and took myself to the naughty step to give my head a wobble for giving in to the kind of morbid, disrespectful, curiosity that could burn a person’s eyes.

I get almost nothing from such empty pursuit beyond exhaustion at the state of our world. Reading both the ugly and the trivial makes me feel sad and angry and irritated and frustrated and cross and ready to bash people.

But here’s the thing: despite all that it is both addictive and comforting at the same time.

Ugh. Not only am I now a woman who maintains a Sim City for no reason whatsoever, logging into the app daily to set my little pixeled factories up turning seeds into slabs of meat, but now I am a person who reads the most awful nonsense on social media and somehow cannot help herself for in such pursuit there is indeed a turning away from real life that makes me feel somewhat better about the chaos reigning in my own head.

This then is a form of numbing out. A closing off of the discerning mind in favour of that which satisfies our need for the kinds of comfort that both satisfy baser instincts and allow us to pop our troubles on a shelf in a mind favouring cat memes and people wandering the supermarkets of America with furry tails and stripper shoes. (Each to their own of course…).

It is both numbing out and dumbing down and I am a little ashamed of myself. While I understand that life has been excessively challenging lately and that the fact that I have remained standing should be sufficient to stop the relentless little voice inside me that whispers “Do better...”, the rest of me is not allowing my baser self to give in to it and as I lay in bed last night dwelling on the whereabouts of a woman who went missing in 1976, it struck me that this way madness, Saturday night TV and a preference for a Big Mac breakfast daily, surely lies.

It will not do. For while I am all for being a person in possession of something she can rely on for quick comfort in moments of need, lethargy or deathly boredom, (Self-care, remember) we owe it to ourselves not to allow it to consume us. We simply cannot allow ourselves to believe that letting our head debate the merits of those bonkers enough to believe that half the world are lizards is either rest or relaxation, when in truth it is neither and only serves to frustrate and create the most insidiously ridiculous lines of moral debate.

This then goes not only for my darn Reddit addiction and Sims “job”, but to all mind -numbing tactics in the same vein. I have noticed in times of stress that I make bad food choices, browse Facebook, endlessly worrying about the the mini-crisis’s of people I barely know, read formulaic domestic crime fiction one book after another and watch complete and utter nonsense on the TV. I eat crisps while I devour obscure investigations on the Crime channel (who knew there was such a thing??) and stay awake late into the night, debating cult leaders getting up to all manner of dodgy antics in the most obscure of sub-reddits and then climbing out of bed to go and stand Nigella style by the light of the fridge in search of something that half-way fills up the holes burning through my soul.

Yes. This way madness lies and last-night I thought, no more. Reddit and Facebook are both gone from my phone (again) and I have deleted all the rubbishy thrillers I had lined up in BorrowBox , Netflix and my Scribd account because none of these things serve me. They aren’t feeding my mind and they simply drive me further away from my authentic self: consuming my time, diluting my interests, and rendering me obsessed with depressing nonsense I can almost certainly live without knowing.

Today I am setting myself goals: a challenge to read my way through the Dean Street Press catalogue and a commitment to actually using the Creativelive subscription I bought but rarely remember to use. The banishing of all the so-called healthy junk food that has recently made its way into my pantry and a commitment to only checking into the numerous news sources on my phone once a day, because I am in danger of becoming a walking newsflash.

All this but you will never part me from my Sims because I am a woman in charge of a City don’t you know?

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