Last week, I read an article on Medium called “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting“.
That’s a great question! That’s the first sentence of the article:
*Gaslighting, if you don’t know the word, is defined as manipulation into doubting your own sanity;
The author talks to us about the fact that our government and the “brands” around us (think Target, Kohls, Nike, Oldsmobile, etc) are getting themselves in a position to begin the Great Reboot. They will push for “normal”, spending money, hopping back on the treadmill to make money, spend money, be busy, be distracted, be a consumer. No, the virus wasn’t that bad. Yes, you need that insert a purchase because your insert a problem needs for you to have it!
Find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to repaint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your family on a Royal Caribbean cruise makes you: special.
So many “problems”. So many “fixes” if you buy their product. This model has gone on for quite a while, long before I was born. However, the author then writes this that will stick in my mind forever:
What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views.
The Great Pause. A time for us to examine ourselves and where we put our time. Before this event, I know parents who told me little Johnny couldn’t do his assignment because “he was too busy”. They laid out a schedule that seemed so asinine that no one should have ever believed it possible, but it was right there in front of us. Basketball, baseball, gymnastics, piano, golf, singing lessons, band camp, and on and on. Our kids were kept so busy they didn’t know what to do with free time, if they even had it.
And us! The treadmill of early morning meetings, a day’s worth of school, then after school meetings followed by a quick supper then hours of grading and planning, only to do it all over the next day. I shared with my students today on my YouTube video that my wife and I planted seeds today. We’ve NEVER done that together because of time. My wife is a teacher as well, and so she’s dealing with that treadmill in her own school.
Time has slowed down for both of us. We’ve always eaten meals together, but now, we eat together all the time. And it’s good food, homemade, real ingredients (which isn’t much of a switch for us), but it is in a way because it’s all the time now. We aren’t dealing with students issues, so we aren’t all tied up in knots about it. We are sleeping better, exercising more and are just more healthy, period.
The Great Pause has caused this because we rarely leave our little piece of heaven. So, when the volume gets turned up that it’s time to spend our money to help the economy, that it’s time to get America reopened, to get the treadmill going again, what happens if people don’t want to? Yes, there will be bills to pay, groceries to purchase, and so on, but what happens if Americans realize there’s a better way? What happens if Americans start seeing that the treadmill is killing them, that they are happier working from home? What happens if we see this as a time of reawaken to what is important? Not Tik-Toc, Super Bowl Sunday, or new track dropped by Pitbull (though his new track that was just dropped is pretty sweet, but I digress). What happens if we value this slowdown and we don’t want to get back on the bus?
From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud
We can do that on a personal scale in our homes, in how we choose to spend our family time on nights and weekends, what we watch, what we listen to, what we eat, and what we choose to spend our dollars on and where.
For me, it’s been about decluttering my life, my house, and my own cluttered mind. Breathing, focusing, returning to what works for me and my family. Spending our money close to home, making myself available to my wife and daughters, and just enjoying this Great Pause.
The author makes some statements about the president and media that I don’t agree with, but for me, this wasn’t about either. It’s about personal choice, personal freedom, and how you are going to live your life once “normal” creeps back in. Will you long for the return of what you had or will you embrace what is to come? Either way, that multi-billion dollar effort is coming to push you back to normal. You have to ask yourself one question: What do you want your normal to be?
April 15, 2020 at 4:13 am
I wonder what we will all be like when we return as well.
April 15, 2020 at 9:55 am
That’s the great thing right now, we can start setting ourselves up from “I wonder” to “I will”. I hope families will continue to hold their time together as a need, not a want. I hope teachers can disconnect from their classrooms and not feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. I hope we can see much of what we were told we need, is not, in fact, what we need! 🙂
April 15, 2020 at 7:04 am
Oh my goodness, I said this very thing to my husband last night sitting on the porch swing yesterday…”When we return ‘to normal’, how many will resist the hectic pace they’ve had a break from?” I wonder how many families are growing a closer bond being shut in together 24/7? I read an article last week on Gaslighting, too, but you paraphrased this one perfectly! 🙂
April 15, 2020 at 9:53 am
I’d love to claim that paraphrase you mentioned, but it was done by an author far more talented than I. I do hope we as a collective can resist (love that word) what the “brands” are telling us we should do. I have my doubts, but still, I have hope! 🙂
April 15, 2020 at 7:41 am
We spent the first few weeks of shelter in place just getting our foothold – how to communicate, get food, etc – but now we’re a lot more steady. I agree with your point that this is the ideal time in our collective lives to make value judgements on the decisions we’ve made and will continue to make. If we emerge to life as we knew it, then no good will have come from this. And it’s time we start looking for the silver lining.
April 15, 2020 at 9:52 am
>And it’s time we start looking for the silver lining.<
I love this sentence because we need to start looking at this now, not when everyone is sounding the "all clear" bugle .
April 16, 2020 at 6:58 am
I read this article, too. Your reflection adds more food for thought.