A legitimately bad outcome would be somewhere far to the left of her worst expected outcome. Intellectually, she could accept that a B would have zero negative impact on her life. But emotionally, the B frightened her. She was stressing out over it. On a deeper level, I think she wanted to be stressed out over it.
In 2019, “mildly panicked” has become our normal state. It’s unsettling to not be nervous. We worry we must be missing something some threat:
We wake up in the middle of a quiet night, filled with an unnamable dread. We may pick up our phones in the hope that they will deliver a requisite shock of anxiety: we scan the news for alarming stories; we look out for aggressive or problem-laden emails. And, normally, we quickly hit on something to return us to a more familiar panicked mode.
I’m absolutely guilty of it. I catastrophize and imagine arguments. I suspect every unreturned email must mean bad news, even while I let some sit in my inbox just because I’m busy.
During the 2016 election, I took a break from the news. I’d ask my husband to tell me if anything truly awful was happening that I needed to know about. Turns out, my news blackout didn’t really help; I imagined things were worse than they really were.
What has helped me most is to remember that I’m an animal with a fight-or-flight mechanism. I’m programmed to worry because that’s what kept my ancestors from being eaten. So when I’m being stupid and irrational, it’s because I’m the primate who lived.
And as that lucky chimpanzee, the best thing I can do is to focus on the present moment. Is there anything I can do right now to address this looming terror? If so, do it. If not, do something else.
Also, don’t bring your phone into your bedroom.
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Here are some other things I found interesting this week:
All your Bezos belong to us. Kashmir Hill tried to live a week without Amazon – not just for shopping, but for all of the backend digital services it provides. Turns out, that’s nearly impossible. A tremendous amount internet traffic goes through Amazon’s CDNs.
Good nerdery. Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia, in addition to writing 35,000 original articles.
It’s not 12-dimensional chess. David Roth reminds us of the obvious: our president has no idea what he’s doing and believes what he says simply because he said it.
Let them eat grass. Dr. Sarah Taber makes the case for why eating animals was crucial for some cultures given their climate.