It was like I was a vampire & any photon of Trump would turn me to dust.
March 10, 2018 8:12 AM   Subscribe

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.
posted by mph (93 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Finally a white man has been able to ignore threats to minority groups.
posted by jaduncan at 8:22 AM on March 10 [81 favorites]


This seems to me a very modern phenomenon. Start with a valid or at least arguably valid point -

He has come to believe that being a news consumer doesn’t enhance society.

- and take it so far to its illogical extreme that you wind up getting profiled in the NY Times Style section.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:22 AM on March 10 [31 favorites]


The world is on fire, and the New York Times is out there writing stories about white people who've decided to put their heads in the sand.

What a waste that paper has become.
posted by mhoye at 8:23 AM on March 10 [68 favorites]


this strikes me as the NYT trying to cut down people who think consuming 24 hour anxiety news isn’t good for you, by picking the most absurd possible examplar of that idea.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:24 AM on March 10 [26 favorites]


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.

literally thought that sentence was referring to Donald J Trump, not some random dude in ohio who refuses to read the news
posted by halation at 8:33 AM on March 10 [187 favorites]


I didn't need more encouragement to rethink the whole concept of a "newspaper of record", but this has done just that. The NYT has fueled the sort of anxiety that this guy is supposed to exemplify by giving a platform to fascists and other shitbirds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


“I had been paying attention to the news for decades,” Mr. Hagerman said. “And I never did anything with it.

And then you were shaken by Trump's win?!

If you're not part of the solution...
posted by chavenet at 8:36 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


Such anger. Comments like these kinda illustrate his point. I thought this was an interesting thought (and life) experiment that helped me look even more carefully at the range of possible responses millions of us are wrestling with in the face of the current horrors. I am pleased a major newspaper has been profiling newly awakened activists (e.g. Florida high school students) as well as someone like this who has gone to the other extreme. Now it's up to me to decide which aspects of both extremes I can fruitfully incorporate into my own life.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:38 AM on March 10 [14 favorites]


Agreeing to take part in this profile was a huge strategic blunder on his part, because now people are going to make it their business to crack The Blockade (lol). Hell, if I had money to burn and lived in the area I'd hire a bunch of planes to fly around his property with banners listing random shit from the front page of CNN:

"TRUMP'S MILITARY PARADE WILL BE IN NOVEMBER"
"TRUMP'S LAWYER USED A HOME EQUITY LOAN TO PAY HUSH MONEY TO A PORN STAR"
"TIGER WOODS IS ATTEMPTING A COMEBACK"
"WOMAN IN HER UNDERWEAR RIDES HORSE INTO NIGHTCLUB"
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:40 AM on March 10 [27 favorites]


I refuse to read the news too. Have you looked at it? Most of it is just yellow journalism of the most vile sort. And yet I'm shockingly uninformed because I don't want to know the details of the latest mass shootings (thoughts & prayers) and the latest horror story of the Trump administration? You're not my Mom, and guilt doesn't work on me. When there is a news source (and not just another look at what the repugs are doing now! screed) I can trust, I will consider rejoining the news reading world. News has been useless since the repeal of the fairness doctrine.
posted by evilDoug at 8:40 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


Oh and the NYT, the paper infamous for "Nazi's are just like us!" stories. Fuck you. You are not the paper of record anymore.
posted by evilDoug at 8:41 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Halation, I thought the exact same thing!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:44 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Let them eat cranberry scone
posted by The Toad at 8:51 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


This article made me feel genuinely queasy. For my own health, I need to construct a Blockade against NYT coverage of ignorant white people.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:56 AM on March 10 [17 favorites]


When there is a news source (and not just another look at what the repugs are doing now! screed) I can trust, I will consider rejoining the news reading world.

Our public broadcaster makes a pretty decent fist of it, if you're seriously looking.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I do a very tiny version of this: I refuse to listen to Trump speak. I never watch or listen to the news anyway, so this just involves not tuning in for the State of the Union and not clicking on videos. I read the news and stay informed; I don't think I'm losing out on anything. There's just something about his voice and speaking pattern that turns my stomach and raises my blood pressure, and I won't let him have that. Of course since the world apparently revolves around this dude and not me I do not impose my preferences on anyone else and some ambient Trump does creep in occasionally.
posted by acidic at 9:01 AM on March 10 [72 favorites]


“I’m emotionally healthier than I’ve ever felt,”

Oh, well as long as you feel good...

Yeah, this is dumb.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:01 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


Alternate title: You Will Be Angry At This Man
posted by Going To Maine at 9:04 AM on March 10 [30 favorites]


(nb: I am very excited to read this.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:06 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I can understand avoiding the news if you're not too good mental health-wise, because, you know, it can get a bit depressing... but this is a bit much
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:10 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


what would be the consequences for your life or the world if you found out about national political events a day or two later? for most people, nothing, except you’d be less stressed and have more time to enjoy life, be with friends and family, and focus on the responsibilities you do actually have.

this article brings up immigration again and again because it’s one of the few exceptions recently, where things are time sensitive and there’s individual action to be taken. even then, you could have keep abreast of this by reading a newspaper for 15 minutes at most once a day.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:12 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Let's play Two Truths and a Lie with the insipid photo captions.

sits down at Donkey Coffee

bewildered by covfefe

holds a juvenile salamander from a vernal pool

posted by Beardman at 9:13 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


If this guy were my relative, I would take especial pleasure in attempting to run his blockade every chance I got. I sure as hell wouldn't allow him to dictate to my children that they couldn't discuss current events with him. In fact, I would encourage them to try to run his blockade, too. If he had been my friend...well, he would no longer be my friend.
posted by ogooglebar at 9:19 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


Here to recommend this excellent daily digest put out by MetaFilter's own Phire. It is short, sharp, and credible.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:19 AM on March 10 [12 favorites]


I'm like acidic; I recognized that looking at or hearing 45 talking just appalled, disgusted, and infuriated me in a visceral way that benefited me in no way whatsoever. I never watched a ton of TV news but I avoid it altogether most of the time now. I try not even to look at pics of him in the paper.

I also block many of the attempts of social media to feed me news (FBPurity is essential). I don't want to waste my mental energy deconstructing the exaggerations and confabulations. My Twitter feed is political but I try to keep it to sober and thoughtful commenters who have something new to say (especially people of color) rather than agitation-amplifiers.

I can even understand taking a defined break to restore mental well-being if the news is really the problem. Retreats are a well-established method to rejuvenate of mind and soul.

But this guy is an ass. How fucking convenient for him, to have his life so little affected by the terror and discrimination being inflicted on his fellow Americans and the destruction of the regulatory state that protects them that he can just opt out of learning about it (hint, buddy: I guess you're old enough not to give a damn about climate change, but you aren't going to enjoy your bucolic retreat for long if the water and air are poisoned). Peak white male. Just peak.
posted by praemunire at 9:32 AM on March 10 [21 favorites]


There are many different ways to engage with information about world events, both healthy and unhealthy.

I'm not sure this qualifies as any of them.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:39 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


I hope he gets summoned for jury duty. Are any of Trump's crew engaged in shenanigans in Ohio? It would be perfect if he were selected for one of Manafort's trials. I mean, he couldn't be rejected for being tainted by pre-trial publicity.
posted by ogooglebar at 9:42 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


I am confused by people's reaction to this.

Maybe I'm wrong, or I assume too much. But I feel like most people, perhaps they consume much more media than this man. They are au courant. They are angry and frightened all the time. They discuss how terrible things are a lot. They vote. Perhaps they contribute to politicians they agree with. They may attend protest marches, or write letters to their representatives every few weeks. Maybe say they spend half their free time learning and talking about these things, 20% of their free time trying to do something about them, 5% of their income.

But not, say, 100%. They have families they care about, jobs to do, rent to pay.

This guy, seems like, spends 0 time reading and talking about politics. He's spending most of his net worth and most of his time trying to do something positive for his community.

Trump's still president, whether one takes the first or the second path. The actions of the individual don't move the needle much in either case. In terms of overall benefit to humanity, I think you can make a clearer case for the Ignoramous. He's very likely to succeed in creating his sanctuary. Whereas my activism, how much does it increase the chance of reversing any of the policies I decry?

The biggest difference for the individual, seem to be the anger. Whether or not one spends one's life stewing in it. People feel it is immoral not to be angry. But I'm not sure why futile anger should be more moral than futile ignorance. Actions, those have a moral quality. Mere emotions are neutral, except inasmuch as they impact the self. An iv drip of poison you plug yourself into, in order that your blood should stand in sympathy with a corrupt world.

"'We must cultivate our garden,' said Candide..."
posted by Diablevert at 9:42 AM on March 10 [35 favorites]


Actions do have a moral quality, Diablevert, you're right. Retreating to the woods and telling an Iranian friend that they are not allowed to talk to you about current events like the attempted Muslim bans and restrictions on the rights of Iranian-American citizens and passport holders is an action, and it has a moral quality.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 9:45 AM on March 10 [41 favorites]


Retreating to the woods and telling an Iranian friend that they are not allowed to talk to you about current events like the attempted Muslim bans and restrictions on the rights of Iranian-American citizens and passport holders is an action, and it has a moral quality.

Self-care has a moral quality too, of course.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:51 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


News you willfully ignore sometimes has a way of eventually forcibly bringing itself to your attention, no matter how privileged you are.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:55 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Hmmm, who benefits from angry and frustrated people dropping out of the system instead of fighting it.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:55 AM on March 10 [22 favorites]


As long as others suffer, it is immoral to exercise one's privilege to avoid suffering.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:57 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


As long as others suffer, it is immoral to exercise one's privilege to avoid suffering.

Then no one ever deserves to experience happiness, given the consistence and persistence of human suffering.
posted by Diablevert at 10:01 AM on March 10 [27 favorites]


if you spend less time obsessively reading the news you have more time to fight the system, and also can’t fool yourself into thinking you’re accomplishing something just because you feel stressed and unhappy.

like the guy in the article is foolish or unreasonable and there is something morally dubious about what he’s doing.

however it’s not any better to spend 20 hours a week reading about politics than it is to spend 2 hours.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:03 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


Trump's still president, whether one takes the first or the second path. The actions of the individual don't move the needle much in either case.

As it should be! The whole point of democracy is to make sure that no one person wields the power to move the needle too much.

But the price of the freedom that comes with that is a collective responsibility to go out there, to be informed, to be political, and to do your best that those politics you adopt support the freedom and political power of others, especially the most oppressed.

And on a personal level, it heartens me to see people going out there fighting the good fight. It takes away some of my anger and gives me hope. And I try to do the same, though my efforts are admittedly feeble as of late. But... if you're getting angry and going out there and doing something about it, dammit you are making people happy, you are making the world a better place, we just need enough of us to make the darn needle move.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:04 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I mean, the thing of privilege is that individual exemplars are bad symbols of a general phenomenon. Beyonce is not proof that black people have triumphed in society, and a poor white person who has been hurt is not proof that white privilege doesn't exist. This is one dude -with a lot of privilege- going what he needs to do to get by. To the extent that he pitches The Blockade to everyone as a cure-all, I have a problem. To the extent that he pushed it as a cure-himself, I'm fine. Society is bigger than him.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


The number of people I work with, white middle-class people in Omaha, Nebraska, mostly conservative, who know only the very broad outlines of what's going on in the news is quite large. But for them, it's not even "they don't watch the news". They just watch it and nod along and move on because it doesn't really matter to them. They seize on a few key words. They cared about the tax thing insofar as they were excited about when we were going to get our new larger paychecks, for example. I'm less worried about the deliberately-ignorant rare few than I am about the number of people who can scan the headlines every day and come away from it like "eh everything looks fine" and go on about their lives. There's a frightening "oh haha that scamp" kind of quality to how people where I am perceive the latest Trump news.
posted by Sequence at 10:10 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


Then no one ever deserves to experience happiness, given the consistence and persistence of human suffering.

You're starting to catch on.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:10 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


also, the fun version of this is “The Knowledge”, where people compete to see who can go longest without finding out who won the Super Bowl.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:10 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Then no one ever deserves to experience happiness, given the consistence and persistence of human suffering.

You're starting to catch on.


Thankfully happiness has yet to be criminalized.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:15 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


Approximately half of the sentences in this story could be taken out of context and used to describe David Brooks
posted by beerperson at 10:20 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


Whereas my activism, how much does it increase the chance of reversing any of the policies I decry?

An organization I support has won multiple court cases against the Trump administration, forcing the modification or abandonment of horrendous policies. Does that count?

Large-scale action requires many modest individual contributions. It's childish to reject it entirely because only action on a smaller scale makes you feel personally important enough.
posted by praemunire at 10:24 AM on March 10 [21 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of bile directed at this guy because he's A.) hiding his head in the sand and going Bartleby the Scrivener B.) privileged C.) profiled in the NYT. Let's not forget that something like half the country didn't even participate in civil society to the extent of even VOTING. Another chunk of the country voted for someone who most MeFites (myself included) consider actively evil and incompetent. This guy isn't spending his money oppressing the proles... he's doing something good for the environment and community. Maybe we're a bit trigger happy in the leftist/liberal/Democratic circular firing squad?
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 10:38 AM on March 10 [28 favorites]


So he was a corporate executive who worked 12-14 hours a day, then he gave that all up to live on a beautiful farm and be an artist? And he has enough autonomy and power over daily life to manage to avoid hearing the news? Of course he feels more emotionally healthy than he ever has. Privilege on that level can bring a calm that few people can afford.

His ignorance of the news isn't make him happy, it makes him ignorant.

If he read some politics and actually helped and participated in other people's lives he'd be even happier on a deeper level.
posted by tula at 10:53 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


also, the fun version of this is “The Knowledge”, where people compete to see who can go longest without finding out who won the Super Bowl.

I have gone a half-century doing this*; do I win anything?


*Technically I am sure I have seen a headline now and again and retained the knowledge of the winning team for a few minutes, so for maybe two hours of my life in total I have had the name of the latest winner.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:02 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


As long as others suffer, it is immoral to exercise one's privilege to avoid suffering.


It's immoral to do nothing to alleviate suffering. Acting as if the way to get off the hook for that is to suffer oneself is a common and unproductive error (unless one's sacrifice actually is helping someone else, of course).
posted by atoxyl at 11:07 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


This is not about news overload in a totalitarian state acting as psychological terrorism that destroys people’s capacity to act, or about the bizarre retreat into hypotheticals, and bullshit, disingenuous straw man philosophy about whether or not anyone deserves to be happy, ever, when there is suffering in the world. When the Nazis came to Paris, some of my mother’s family were hidden by some of their neighbors. Not all of them were part of an organized resistance, some were just people who had the means, and made the split second decision and they would not allow the people they knew to be taken. This man has made the conscious decision to engage with the people who are in those crosshairs in his country right now by saying “you can be my friend, but don’t disturb my peace of mind with what’s happening to you.” That is one of the most morally repugnant things I can imagine. These false equivalence arguments that criticizing that kind of choice is somehow saying that no one is allowed to be happy or take care of themselves, ever, are sickening to watch. I feel like I can go down this comment section and immediately know which people here would have gladly moved into their Japanese neighbors’ farms on the US west coast during internment, would have reported their friends to the NKVD, would have let their friends get taken by Nazis and thought, “I just can’t let that negativity bring me down.”. If you don’t have the practical ability to help, that’s not your fault. It is one thing to acknowledge your helplessness and grieve. But if you’re framing the victims of these ongoing humanitarian crises as people trying to sap all of your ability to enjoy life out of you, you need to rethink your moral framework.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:13 AM on March 10 [37 favorites]


in case I didn’t make it clear, the monstrous thing this man is doing isn’t living a privileged life in the country and trying to make a nature preserve out of a former coal mine. He is actively telling friends of his who are being persecuted by the current administration that it’s not OK for them to bother him with their problems because politics stress him out. If you can’t understand the difference between that and simply living in privilege in a world where suffering is going on, I don’t know what to say to you.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:21 AM on March 10 [37 favorites]


This man has made the conscious decision to engage with the people who are in those crosshairs in his country right now by saying “you can be my friend, but don’t disturb my peace of mind with what’s happening to you.”

This is the passage on immigration in the article:
Mr. Hagerman has also trained his friends. A close friend from his Nike days, Parinaz Vahabzadeh, didn’t think he was quite serious at first and, in the early days of The Blockade, kept dropping little hints about politics.
The new administration compelled her to engage more deeply in politics, not less. She had only recently become a United States citizen, and she was passionate about the immigration debate. She did not let Mr. Hagerman opt out easily. “I was needling him,” she said.
And in response, she received, for the first time, a stern text message. “I’m now officially cross with you,” he wrote. “As you know very well I don’t wish to hear about current events. I know you don’t agree with my wishes but I do expect you to respect them.”
They now speak on the phone several times a week, but never about the news. “I’ve gotten used to it,” she said. “It’s actually nice to not talk about politics.”
posted by Going To Maine at 11:25 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


What a colossal Trumphole.
posted by Pendragon at 11:37 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of bile directed at this guy because he's A.) hiding his head in the sand and going Bartleby the Scrivener B.) privileged C.) profiled in the NYT.

Look, when you choose to be profiled in the NYT--and he clearly chose to be--you are putting your personal choices on the subject matter up for at least some debate (at least to the extent of discussing whether your personal choices can ever be properly judged by others). If this guy chooses not merely proud ignorance but preaching its virtues in a high-profile publication, it's absurd to construe criticism of those decisions as mere leftist circular firing-squad. His choices are wrong. He is encouraging people nationally to do the wrong thing. Is it as bad as marching with tiki torches? Of course not. Is that the standard for meriting criticism? No.

(Maybe I missed this in the article, but: is he going to vote in the next election? How does he plan to be adequately informed to do so?)
posted by praemunire at 11:41 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


I went to college down there. In fact, I stopped by Donkey Coffee last week after volunteering at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sports festival. This asshole is the living personification of a GOOD VIBES ONLY iPhone case. Outside the college town, the region is pretty damned economically depressed save its thriving weed industry. He is not helping matters by ostriching.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:44 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


(Maybe I missed this in the article, but: is he going to vote in the next election? How does he plan to be adequately informed to do so?)

I’m pretty sure that a guy who was so emotionally devastated by the election that he opted out of all news is not someone whose vote is up for grabs in a two-party system.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:49 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I don't see much wrong with disengaging with the basic news cycle.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:49 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I am now officially cross with you
posted by hexaflexagon at 11:52 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


I’m pretty sure that a guy who was so emotionally devastated by the election that he opted out of all news is not someone whose vote is up for grabs in a two-party system.

Well, then, that would kind of undermine the argument that "at least he's better than the people who didn't vote last time."

Also, sheesh, when you put it like that...once again men prove they're just way too emotional to be trusted with something serious like government. (That's a joke. Half a joke.)
posted by praemunire at 12:05 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


I’m pretty sure that a guy who was so emotionally devastated by the election that he opted out of all news is not someone whose vote is up for grabs in a two-party system.

Well, then, that would kind of undermine the argument that “at least he's better than the people who didn't vote last time.”

Wait, what? I mean, he’s going to vote for Democrats down the line. Because why wouldn’t he? Presumably he’s ceding any chance of having an impact in the primaries, which people might want to yell about, but this doesn’t seem like someone the Rs have any chance of going after.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:14 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I misunderstood you, Going to Maine. But it is not exactly commendable to vote based on no information about political developments over the past four years, either.
posted by praemunire at 12:40 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Can you imagine any remotely plausible event that would lead you to vote R though?
posted by Pyry at 12:42 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Rolf Dobelli's "Avoid News". (Direct link to PDF)
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:51 PM on March 10


Is there an equivalent for Godwin's Law about invoking the Japanese internment in a discussion?
posted by PhineasGage at 12:59 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Is there an equivalent for Godwin's Law about invoking the Japanese internment in a discussion?

I don’t see a huge amount of difference between forcing people to live in a camp because of their race, and separating them from their families and deporting them to a country they may or may not have ever lived in before because of the race.
posted by mrmurbles at 1:07 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


"A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny," Thomas Jefferson.

"Christ, what an asshole," Erik Hagerman.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:43 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


But accusing anyone participating in this discussion thread of being the kind of person who would happily take over the property of Japanese internees - or DACA deportees - is the kind of Godwin's Law, circular firing squad rhetoric that was mentioned above.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:47 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


It turns out that this is something you need to read The New York Times to understand.
posted by chavenet at 2:16 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I feel like I can go down this comment section and immediately know which people here would have gladly moved into their Japanese neighbors’ farms on the US west coast during internment,

What the fuck? Look, I get that people have different reactions to this, but to accuse people of committing the worst possible shit because they don’t see this the same way you do? That’s fucked up. Who the hell do you think you are? We really need to re-examine how we look at each other, if this is our discourse.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:21 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


is the kind of Godwin's Law, circular firing squad rhetoric that was mentioned above.

Nah, it's more that this whiney don't wanna hear about my friend's immigration worries nonsense isn't neutrality, it's explicitly picking a side.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:22 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


Nah, it's more that this whiney don't wanna hear about my friend's immigration worries nonsense isn't neutrality, it's explicitly picking a side.

This is unhelpful and really uncharitable. Not actively agitating for causes doesn't mean someone has picked a side, it means they're choosing their battles.

I don't watch the news. I keep up on stuff, but I don't engage with the Outrage Machine. Instead, I'm active in the local community, volunteer as a mentor in recovery programs at courts, I work to make somebody's day a little better, one at a time, one day at a time, on the regular. You won't see me posting my rage at The System anywhere. I don't have time nor bandwidth.

Here's an old white guy with money. He could be funding any number of causes, agitating for any number of issues. He MUST be a horrible person for choosing his battle: restoring a damaged landscape, putting silly art on it, but most heinously he has chosen not to engage.

Same as me. I don't engage, either. He's not doing it the way I'm doing it. That doesn't make him wrong.

Good for him.
posted by disclaimer at 2:36 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


He is actively telling friends of his who are being persecuted by the current administration that it’s not OK for them to bother him with their problems because politics stress him out. If you can’t understand the difference between that and simply living in privilege in a world where suffering is going on, I don’t know what to say to you.

yeah I think he is kind of an asshole because of the part where he does impose on other people, and because his idea of what he will do to contribute to his community seems... okay, but a bit of a rich-old-guy vanity project

I just wanted to make the point that knowing about problems and not doing anything about them is not better than not knowing about problems and not doing anything about them.
posted by atoxyl at 2:38 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]


I had a great uncle who took over several of his Japanese neighbors' farms while they were shipped to camps. When they came home, he turned their farms back over to them in good condition, along with the profits from the duration of their absence. So yeah, I kinda hope I'd have the bandwidth to do something like that.
posted by lauranesson at 2:39 PM on March 10 [33 favorites]


I just wanted to make the point that knowing about problems and not doing anything about them is not better than not knowing about problems and not doing anything about them.

(because I've encountered people who kinda seem to think, at least subconsciously, that it is)

(or, you know, I'm susceptible to thinking like that sometimes, even)
posted by atoxyl at 2:41 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


This is unhelpful and really uncharitable.

The most charitable to be about this guy's stance is that he isn't fussed about literally anything that won't affect him directly. He isn't at risk of deportation or unwanted pregnancy or losing access to benefits or education or or or . He's fussed about his beautiful lake on his land that benefits him, big whoop.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:49 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


I'm not understanding the logic here. If he truly doesn't care about other people's problems and only cared about himself, why would he find Trump being elected so upsetting that he had to retreat into news hermitage? Trump's election probably doesn't materially affect him one way or the other.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:08 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


I recognized that looking at or hearing 45 talking just appalled, disgusted, and infuriated me in a visceral way that benefited me in no way whatsoever.

Is there a plug-in like the one that turns every ad or pic on a website into a cat pic, but just for pics of Trump? Asking for a friend (my visceral response of anxiety and depression).
posted by tzikeh at 3:48 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Limit/filter media consumption and avoid TV news: I think everyone here agrees with that?

Sometimes retreat into a news-free zone?Definitely a worthwile idea.

To literally plug up your ears and go ‚la-la-la‘ for a whole year, then flaunt it as a cool lifestyle thing: what this article was about and what nobody should to because it‘s toxic and asocial.
posted by The Toad at 3:56 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


The most charitable to be about this guy's stance is that he isn't fussed about literally anything that won't affect him directly. He isn't at risk of deportation or unwanted pregnancy or losing access to benefits or education or or or . He's fussed about his beautiful lake on his land that benefits him, big whoop.
...
From the article:
"...but he has the misgivings about disengaging from political life that you have, by now, surely been shouting at him as you read. “The first several months of this thing, I didn’t feel all that great about it,” he said. “It makes me a crappy citizen. It’s the ostrich head-in-the-sand approach to political outcomes you disagree with.”

It seems obvious to say, but to avoid current affairs is in some ways a luxury that many people, like, for example, immigrants worried about deportation, cannot afford.

“He has the privilege of constructing a world in which very little of what he doesn’t have to deal with gets through,” said his sister, Bonnie Hagerman. “That’s a privilege. We all would like to construct our dream worlds. Erik is just more able to do it than others.”

What if, he began to think, he could address his privilege, and the idea of broader good, near to home?

He has a master project, one that he thinks about obsessively, that he believes can serve as his contribution to American society."

posted by disclaimer at 4:03 PM on March 10


Oh and about that 45 acre strip mine he owns...

"Mr. Hagerman sees this land as his life’s work. He plans to restore it, protect it, live on it and then preserve it for the public. “I will never sell this land,” he said.

He wouldn’t put it exactly this way, but he talks about the land in part as penance for the moral cost of his Blockade. He has come to believe that being a news consumer doesn’t enhance society. He also believes that restoring a former coal mine and giving it to the future does.

“I see it as a contribution that has civic relevance that aligns with my passions and what I do well,” Mr. Hagerman said. “I’m going to donate it. It’s going to take most of my net worth. That’s what I’m going to spend the rest of my money on.”

He has filled an entire room of his house with a 3-D rendering of the property to better envision his plans. He has hired Gary Conley, a local landscape ecologist, to advise on the project. Mr. Conley, a gentle bearded outdoorsman who can speak at length about the preferences of the local amphibians, believes that the land could become something special."

posted by disclaimer at 4:23 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Is there a plug-in like the one that turns every ad or pic on a website into a cat pic, but just for pics of Trump?

There's is indeed. It's called Make America Kittens Again and I've been using it for nearly two years. It'll also turn various other shitburgers like Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders into kittens.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:40 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


There's something Thoreau-esque about the whole thing.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:41 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I quit Twitter last month and am now a lot less informed about certain subjects but I don't think that makes me a worse citizen. I don't know if his pet eco project is an amazing idea, but he's making conscious choices about how to spend his attention, which ought to count for something. It beats opening up Twitter or turning on CNN and letting the maelstrom direct into your earballs.

His choices are whacky and enabled by his friends, family, and wealth, but then so was Thoreau... who gets similarly criticised for obliviousness.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:46 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Third post and I'm done: my small version of this was being on vacation during the Don Jr Trump Tower meeting newscycle, and managed to not learn what it was for at least a month (I knew it was Don Jr, maybe Russians, but that was it). It was blissful.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:49 PM on March 10


Internal exile is by no means a new thing, though it is a fatalistic sort of reaction usually seen only in societies where hope of improvement is seen as futile (i.e., Germany shortly after 1848, or Russia through most of its history).
posted by acb at 4:55 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


My personal wilful information blackout concerns the name of it.

It is so obsessed with its own name that it seems like I one thing I can do, memetically speaking, is to refuse to propagate it.

I will discuss any current event with you, but I won’t name the thing. And if you name it, I will reply, “Who?” Because I negate the name. I unsay it. I negate the fame and infamy of the noise.

And because I think the whole world saying, “Who?” in response to its name is its idea of Hell.

So, fuck that thing. Nameless smegma.
posted by Construction Concern at 5:19 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


But I'm not sure why futile anger should be more moral than futile ignorance.

Sums it up for me, Diablevert. So many of my friends so proud of themselves for Anger Against Trump. And somehow...expressing that anger is enough. There is only Evil, and we must rage against it. Trump is not Joseph Stalin, and he is aided and abetted by our legislators in Congress, and when's the last time you communicated with your state Senator or Representative?

This guy is extreme and weird and IT'S OKAY. It's not bad. He's not bad.

Very discouraging comments here.
posted by kestralwing at 5:56 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


He's an eccentric, not just in the no-news way but in a retreat to a solitary pig farm to obsessively pursue art and his own passion projects way. And like many eccentrics, he has the money and freedom to go be eccentric. I'm not mad at him, because I didn't see any part of the article or his comments as a call to emulate him. It was a profile of a kind of strange one-off dude. He's an outlier, and it made for an interesting story, but in some ways the no-news thing may be the least weird aspect of his life as described.
posted by PussKillian at 7:54 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


How on Earth are his so-called friends not fucking with him on an epic scale?

Turn up at his house all wearing the same grey outfit with flat caps.
Have the women and chldren refuse to speak.
Answer his calls in a whisper and then say "Oh Shit" and hang up.
Hire a fleet of Ferraris and not mention it when everyone turns up in one.

I am disapoint.
posted by fullerine at 1:07 AM on March 11 [16 favorites]


Here's the thing maybe about the circular firing-squad:

Morally reprehensible behavior does not often seem morally reprehensible at all in the moment when it is committed by ordinary people. It certainly feels shitty to have to consider whether something that seems harmless (or at least not terribly harmful) is morally reprehensible, and it's a lot of work to ensure that (especially in times like these) one isn't doing a thing that will come to be seen as morally reprehensible down the line.

I still have students who insist there was nothing wrong with owning slaves when everyone was doing it. They want their slave-owning ancestors to have been good or nice people. ("Nice is different from good.") And yep, they could have been salt of the earth in some ways, and still morally reprehensible.

This is not to say that I think Mr. Ostrich is morally reprehensible, except at very least that he refuses to share in the concerns of his "friends" ... I mean, Dude! But being hard on each other or demanding a lot of each other, at least in conversation, isn't the same thing as being mean to each other, I don't think. It's important to be reflective and not get our feelings terribly hurt when someone suggests or even insists that our behavior that seems harmless is not so. We get to choose whether or not that destroys us, right?
posted by allthinky at 6:48 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


"I'm worried about Trump's immigration ba--"
"I’m now officially cross with you."

Ugh this fucking guy.

I think I would have really liked this article if it had been all about his lake. That's a worthwhile project, and I bet the minutiae of it are actually really fascinating.

I wonder if he thought the article was actually going to be about his lake and now he's reading it in horror and despair that he sounds like such a jagoff.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:13 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


It's important to be reflective and not get our feelings terribly hurt when someone suggests or even insists that our behavior that seems harmless is not so. We get to choose whether or not that destroys us, right?

We need to have perspective on this specific conversation, though. It’s hyperbolic to insinuate that because some people won’t condemn a guy for refusing to engage with the news (even to an extreme degree like this) that they would have sold out their Japanese neighbors and rolled over for the Nazis. That’s an absurd escalation that requires some major leaps. It’s wildly insulting to compare the people who disagree with you to the opportunistic white farmers who stole land from people in Japanese internment camps, just because they don’t fully agree with you that it’s bad to disengage from the news cycle. Saying “we get to choose how we react” — no, it’s not unreasonable to be insulted by that.

We need to be self-reflective, but that goes both ways: we need to be accountable for our own rhetoric and have enough respect for the people in this conversation that we don’t immediately cast a disagreement over something like this as the very worst moral failure. It’s one thing to make excuses for slavery after the fact, but no one is doing anything even remotely like that in this thread. We’re talking about disengaging from the news here.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:16 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


Anyone who says "I'm now officially cross with you" when a friend tries to talk with them about their life and an omnipresent force trying to ruin said life is not a good friend.
posted by sockermom at 8:26 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


His ignorance of the news isn't make him happy

I wish we had some kind of pithy aphorism about this
posted by beerperson at 11:01 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Today is another good day to envy this man.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:37 PM on March 17


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