I don't follow or read about anything political because I can't do anything to alter any of it. It's just a pointless waste of my time.
Yeah, but don't you think that you can tell something about a person from their political opinions? I feel like it's an indicator of people's grasp on reality, their empathy, and some other things. You can sort of tell what ideas that are influencing them.
The problem with using this to judge others, for me, is that I then get obsessed with judging myself, why do I find certain opinions more attractive than others? Why am I concerned with this issue more than that one? Why do I feel more empathy for X rather than Y? Why do I feel that this particular way of understanding past events is more credible?
Yes, I can't alter anything, but I sometimes feel I can get addicted to these kinds of questions. And my answers never satisfy me. So, maybe you're right, and I should just avoid it. I definitely do that sometimes for months at a time. (my obsessions generally tend to be periodic in a weird way, where I binge, abstain, binge, abstain, ... )
I was actively engaged with political science and economics for a couple years when I was younger, but I avoid the news now. I have too many of my own problems to have any energy left over to deal with political issues.
People can certainly get caught up in political movements. They have a lot in common with religion. There's a lot of proselytization and peer pressure, browbeating and ostracism. So yes, it can have a huge impact on your personal life. People get pressured into joining movements they're not sure about because "it's the right thing to do" and all their friends are doing it.
That's definitely been my experience. At least when there are big events happening or whatever. This kind of annoys me because it makes me feel gullible.
And I've noticed something in the 8 years that bothers me. I'm very conscious of how (local) political events affect general trends and attitudes in society from one extreme to the other in short periods of time. I'm also aware of how those general attitudes in turn affect me personally.
What bothers me is that I can tell the current atmosphere is toxic, becoming more toxic each year, and very discouraging of positive attitudes in general. I can sense a lot of, I don't know, moral nihilism? cultural nihilism? I don't know. SOME kind of nihilism in everyone around me, to some extent. Or maybe just ultra-pragmatism and self-centeredness. Even the ones whose personal lives seem great, seem cruel or morally scarred somehow. And I feel confident tracing that societal shift to specific political events.
What's frustrating to me is that a lot of this negativity spills over to my personal life, which seems really stupid, because my personal issues don't really fit into any of that.
They get worked up about issues that have no impact on them personally yet lack the ability to keep their own lives in order and be good to the people they interact with on a daily basis. That's always seemed a little irrational to me but people are going to do what they're going to do. Sometimes it's just easier to paint yourself as a martyr than to take responsibility for your life.
Personally, I can do more good by being good to the people I know than I can by yelling at people I don't. A person like me, who suffers from mental illness, is much better off learning psychology, since it has immediate, practical applications. If I'd kept my focus on politics I'd probably be dead by now, so psychology has gotten me a couple of decades, anyway. Politics only really works for people in majorities and substantial minorities in any case so the issues that have the biggest impact on me personally are also the issues I'm least likely to be able to change politically. That just sounds like a recipe for frustration.
That's a really good point. I feel like "redefining" my personal issues so as to fit into some group or other's cause has never led to anything good. I feel that people who fit neatly into substantial minorities like you said experience the social world very differently. They can form strong stable communities able to form some kind of political force. So, maybe to them it doesn't feel like it's completely futile to have these kinds of worries.
And yeah, I do find psychology a lot more useful. I never really regretted reading a book or "wasting" time thinking about psychological things, even when I end up changing my opinions or giving up on certain ideas or theories.