Serenity Now - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Recently, I decided to take a break from social media - the ever-popular giant that dominates the lives of so many these days. Between the negativity, arguments and misinformation, I couldn’t do it anymore.
People complained about lockdowns, about the lockdowns not going far enough, about not being able to golf, about not being able to get the jab, about getting the jab, about the media, about our politicians and about each other. I opted to fill my time with something else.
It’s the same here at The Citizen. We are Ground Zero for complaints (many of which never make it into these pages). And they go both ways. In one week we received a note complaining that the people in our pages were being irresponsible and then an envelope full of junk science regarding the pandemic (a hoax) and vaccines (engineered to kill or control us all) - the latter coming with the tell-tale style of handwriting on the envelope, knowing you’re about to read something crazy (think the Zodiac killer letters).
There have been times that I’ve allowed myself to get really worked up in the past 15 months; times I’ve allowed myself to lose it. However, as time has rolled on, I’ve tried to teach myself how to let go and let live.
Back to my self-imposed social media ban, I found myself preoccupied with what others were doing and what they were thinking. How could they be so irresponsible? They even gave it a name - though I think it largely refers to thumbing through depressing news - doom scrolling. For the last 15 months, many of us have been doom scrolling our days away, thinking the world is a horrible place, but knowing that a brand new, fresh hell awaited us again tomorrow that would make us long for the simpler times of yesterday (literally).
As I got more worked up, frustrated and sad, I was wondering why I was doing this to myself. Why do I care which friend of mine thinks COVID-19 is made up? Why do I care which friend blames the media for everything? Why do I care which friend flaunts the rules?
So, after a little cleaning house (anyone on the wrong side of the crazy/inconsiderate line was deleted, no questions asked, as we’ve all now seen behind the curtain of their soul), I decided to step back. Unfortunately I can’t unplug, as I need social media for work, but aside from posting pictures of Tallulah (as people have insisted that seeing her brightens their day), I am largely checked out.
As I tangled with this problem of mine, linked directly to social media and the 24-hour news cycle, I got thinking of a mantra I grew up hearing. I now know not everyone did (though I didn’t realize it then), but if you’ve had an alcoholic in your family, you know it.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” So reads “The Serenity Prayer”, the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous.
At the modern-day Loughlin house, we have our little family of three. We can’t control irresponsible people (whether they’re pastors, politicians or just plain people) any more than we can the Zodiac handwriting guy.
Why, then, do I care? Because it’s on social media. As opposed to it being important to my day-to-day life, I was looking because it’s there to be seen. But I (and many others) need to have the courage to change the things they can and accept the things they cannot. And, yes, the wisdom to know the difference.
Whichever way you lean, the world is never going to fully come around. We’d all be well served to accept that and get on with our day.