Addiction can be a funny thing.
For example, over a year ago now (53 weeks ago, to be exact) I dropped the last remnants of a camel light on the sidewalk and stepped on it. It was, at least so far, the last cigarette I would ever smoke. I spent that weekend drinking a lot of water and sleeping off the withdrawal, but once that was done I pretty much moved on with my life without really thinking about it.
At this point, I rarely recall that I ever smoked at all. I'll be sitting there playing Call of Duty and be like "Wow, shit... I used to smoke... that's weird". It was a virtually seamless transition, almost disconcertingly so for something that's normally so difficult.
So, you'd think that simply changing a fucking channel would be way easy, right? No. See, this is the addiction I continue to struggle with. An addiction that, unlike drugs or alcohol, carries no real stigma, but does a lot of damage to one's health and relationships with other people.
I speak of an addition to politics.
Recently, on facebook, I made a status update linking the addiction to nicotine to politics. The more I think about it, the more I think it's apt. It's expensive, harmful, and hard to stop. Those that do it often relish taunting those who don't, and rarely see the bigger picture of the damage they're doing to the world. Now, I'm not talking about people who vote, or identify with one party or the other but are otherwise sane. I'm talking those who are in. The hardcore, pipe-hittin' FOX/MSNBC watching motherfuckers for whom this has become their lives. For whom EVERYTHING is viewed through the lens of Keith Olbermann's latest special comment, or Glenn Beck's chalkboard scribblings. They heap incendiary rhetoric on the alien "other", but quite often fail to see they are the same.
And as much as these rage junkies profess seething hatred for the other side, they have a symbiotic relationship that's painfully obvious to anyone who stopped fuming long enough to notice the sadistic glee with which right-wingers troll huffpo, and the same emotion liberals employ playing "concern victim" on newsmax. This "enemies of freedom" is just bullshit. Websites employing the same deceptive tactics play to one of the two sides... "left" and "right" publishers are often subsidiaries of the same parent company churning out hundreds of "Did you KNOW that THEY are THE ENEMY?" tomes every month.
What's the saddest thing about all this? It isn't really necessary. These people wallow in a death-obsessed paranoid anti-utopia for no real fucking reason. It's their negative hateful world and it's a fantasy. The country isn't about to be taken over by the radical right, or the radical left. Neither party can crack 50% approval, and neither side's pundits can regularly break the 2 million viewer mark. No, seriously, for a goof I encourage you all to read a flame war between politicos using "Keith Vs. Beck's Ratings" to prove their ideological supremacy. Then, take those ratings, put them together and compare them to Desperate Housewives. Hell, run them against Battlestar Galactica's season 2 ratings. Yet, these pricks think they're fighting for the future of the human race. When in truth, more and more people are sick and disgusted with the entire thing.
Now, this is not to say that I have abandoned my ideals. I am, of course, strongly progressive and would never deny there are dangers in our society. But I've come to a point where I feel that to immerse oneself in this bullshit is enable the problem, not find the solution. The cable news slimefest, the two parties owned by the same multinationals, the deceptive partisan websites. It's all nonsense. The American political rage industry does not exist to inspire, engage, or enlighten. It exists to divide, demonize, and turn gallons and gallons of venom into buckets and buckets of cash.
Anyway, this is what I struggle with. Not reading Huffington post. Not watching MSNBC. It's weird that I find leaving this toxic, hateful environment behind so difficult. It's a self-imposed rehab, from which I've relapsed more times than I care to count.
...at least I can take some comfort in the fact I realize that all of these people are douchebags. Just like I was finally able to admit smoking was a waste of time and money before I quit. It's a start, right?