The Problem With ‘Self Care’

Self care is a concept, a lucrative subset of a 4 trillion dollar wellness industry, and a red-hot social fad that doesn’t do anything to address the underlying issues of why so many people are burned out at work and seriously anxious about an ever-growing list of things.

Because of the money now associated with self care, the purveyors of it have a vested interest in NOT helping resolve the underlying issue of frantic busyness that defines so many people’s daily lives. Granted, some of that frantic busyness is explained by people trying to eke out a living with too few jobs that pay a livable wage, but a lot of it is the result of social contagion. I run on the treadmill of life because you do.

We will mute the clarion call for self care when people will themselves to get sufficient sleep, eat healthy food, and be physically active.

My university is a classic case study in the ridiculousness of self care. All of a sudden, despite my colleagues’ tendencies to overwork, the leadership is talking about the importance of self care. We are like seriously overweight people who think we’ve found the miracle diet, but in this case, we’ll be fine if we just make time for a warm bubble bath at the end of our frantic days. And don’t forget the candle.

I predict all of the self care talk will have no medium or long-term effect on how faculty live their lives. But on the plus side, more bubble bath and candles will be sold.

Monday Required Reading

1A. QAnon’s ‘Meme Queen’ Marches On. Loneliness is a scourge.

“What attracts Ms. Gilbert and many other people to QAnon isn’t just the content of the conspiracy theory itself. It’s the community and sense of mission it provides. New QAnon believers are invited to chat rooms and group texts, and their posts are showered with likes and retweets. They make friends, and are told that they are not lonely Facebook addicts squinting at zoomed-in paparazzi photos, but patriots gathering “intel” for a righteous revolution.

This social element also means that QAnon followers aren’t likely to be persuaded out of their beliefs with logic and reason alone.”

1B. The Unlikely Connection Between Wellness Influencers and the Pro-Trump Rioters. Sigh.

2. Why Chamberlain Built a $3,000 Automatic Garage Door For Your Dog.

3. The Golf World Hardly Deserves Praise for “Breaking” With Trump. News Alert: Not everyone is impressed by my newly woke sport.

4. He Just Wanted To Play Catch. La ultima feel good story.

“I think people want to reconnect a little bit right now.”

5. Electric Cars Are Better for the Planet – and Often Your Budget, Too.

“The federal government offers a tax credit for some new electric vehicle purchases, but that does nothing to reduce the initial purchase price and does not apply to used cars. That means it disproportionately benefits wealthier Americans. Some states, like California, offer additional incentives. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to offer rebates that help consumers swap inefficient, old cars for cleaner new ones, and to create 500,000 more electric vehicle charging stations, too.”

All of today’s QAnon reading necessitated at least one President-elect Biden reference. I don’t want any PressingPausers losing touch with reality.

Paragraphs to Ponder

From David Brooks, moderate Republican, “Trump Ignites a War Within the Church“.*

“The split we are seeing is not theological or philosophical. It’s a division between those who have become detached from reality and those who, however right wing, are still in the real world.

Hence, it’s not an argument. You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts. You can’t have an argument with people who are deranged by the euphoric rage of what Erich Fromm called group narcissism — the thoughtless roar of those who believe their superior group is being polluted by alien groups.”

My new mantra, “You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts.”

*A reminder, you don’t have to subscribe to The New York Times to read my NYT links, but you do have to register.

Christianity Post Covid-19

Michael Luo of The New Yorker explains how COVID-19 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of the past did.

Luo contrasts the early Christians’ courageous and inspiring collective witness during pandemics with the contemporary Church’s Covid-19 response.

“For years, the church in America has been in retreat, in cultural influence and in numbers. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, in 2019, sixty-five per cent of Americans identified as Christians, down twelve per cent from the previous decade; meanwhile, the numbers of the religiously unaffiliated have grown to twenty-six per cent. The co-opting of white evangelicalism by Republican politics helps to explain the confrontational attitude of conservative Christians, but so does the fear of many believers that they are losing their place in a secularizing America. A pluralistic society needs to insure that people of faith, as well as those without any faith, have a role in the public square. But the defiance of the church during the pandemic has come with a cost. The pandemic in 2020 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of antiquity did, but today’s reflection carries the potential to repulse rather than attract. Once the vaccine is widely distributed next year, the church, along with the rest of society, will begin to move on. Yet the world will not be as it was. Churches will have to reckon not only with whether their congregants will return in person, but with how much their collective witness––the term Christians use to describe their ability to point to Jesus in their lives––may have been diminished.”

Another ‘Rona Silver Lining

People are learning maybe ‘less is more’ isn’t a mindless cliché. Maybe less long distance travel, means more appreciation for one’s local ecology. Maybe less cluttered calendars and fewer obligatory activities, means more stillness and thinking and personal change. In that spirit, maybe less concern for outward appearances, means more self acceptance. And maybe less certainty about one’s health, means more appreciation for one’s health.

A pastor friend created this Christmas banner for his church this year. I hope he displays it for many more to come.

There’s an exception to every rule, as the Los Angeles Lakers’ new diamond encrusted championship ring, poignantly illustrates.

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