If you’ve been on Twitter or at a dinner party over the last year, you’ve noticed a pattern. Inevitably, the conversation comes back to a certain topic: Donald J. Trump.
Donald Trump’s political rise has dominated our national attention since he announced his run for president. His comments about women, Mexicans, and his political opponents earned him 24/7 media attention. Harvard’s Kennedy Center showed that Donald Trump earned nearly two billion dollars in free press coverage during the 2016 election cycle. If you turn on CNN, you’re guaranteed “Breaking News” about some recent development with the President.
The cycle goes like this: an event happens, Trump tweets something incendiary, the media jumps on it, then Trump tweets back at the media. Repeat. Meanwhile, everyone forgets about the initial triggering event or topic, letting what actually matters fall by the wayside. This cycle has dominated the news and our lives for more than a year now.
It’s difficult to navigate even normal everyday social interactions without the conversation turning to Donald Trump and his latest provocation. But paying so much attention to these incendiary political arguments takes a toll. We focus on and obsess about the latest Tweet or Executive Order at the expense of our relationships with friends and family. Our attention to and patience for serious political discussion suffers, not to mention our sanity.
Trump and his antics not only take up our attention; they also divide us. You’ve probably seen this on Facebook posts from people on both sides of the aisle. Liberals assert that all Trump voters must be racists, and conservatives assert that all liberals must hate America. The outrage in the news spurs outrage on our screens, and even on our streets: A record number of protests have erupted across the country during the past few weeks. Anti-Trump protesters have blocked ambulances, smashed windows, and even burned the limo of a Muslim immigrant.
If protesters had similarly raged against Obama in his first 100 days, the media’s reaction would likely have been far different than its flattery of the so-called “resistance.” Pundits and professors alike would have been shocked at what surely would have been labeled an “extremist” reaction against a democratically-elected president. But some on the left and right both seem to think that constant turmoil is the new normal.
It’s time to do something about our impending Trump fatigue: Both sides need to take a day off from Trump—a “Trump Sabbath,” if you will.
For just one day, we need to take a complete break; perhaps we can even do this consistently, such as one day a week, for the next four years, like a real Sabbath. We need to log off of Twitter, ignore the op-ed pages, refuse to check Facebook, and think about something else. Don’t let the Donald and his detractors take up your attention. Politics is important, but your sanity is more important. And if we all take time to think about it, maybe that neighbor with a rainbow flag—or a Confederate flag—isn’t actually your enemy.
Consider it—people across the country taking 24 hours to pause and think about the things in their lives that really matter. As a country, we’re really not doing too bad. In fact, most of us are actually better off. Crime is down. Wages are up. The election is finally over.
It’s not the end of the world, and not everything has to do with Trump, despite what the news wants you to believe. So take a break. Put down the phone and the picket sign—at least until next week.