Where’s the catastrophe?

Op-ed

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I haven’t lived long enough to know whether people in the “good old days” era (whenever that is) complained about the world going to shame. However, I am perfectly aware that it’s something we as a society do now. We complain that housing, gas, and food are too expensive. We complain that kids have no respect anymore and are always glued to their screens. We complain that moral values are slipping and the world is becoming an increasingly horrible place. 

What is with all the drama? In psychology, we talk about “catastrophizing”, which is a tendency to focus on the worst possible outcomes or the most negative answers. Catastrophizing is a symptom of mental illness. It’s common in people with certain anxiety disorders, but several times this week, I have heard friends and colleagues apologize for an overreaction, saying “I was just catastrophizing!” 

My question is… where’s the catastrophe? No seriously… is it just me or are we becoming increasingly dramatic as a society? I hear people talk about the world being full of corruption and scandals and misery with no examples to back it up.

This August will mark 5 years since Jeffrey Epstein died. When his horrible crimes became public knowledge, the biggest talk of the day was that many celebrities were allegedly involved as well. Now all these years later, I still can’t go a week without seeing a fake list of names on the internet purporting to show well known actors and musicians who visited Epstein’s island. Time and time again these lists are proven to be fake!

More recently, the nonsense regarding the school system and sex education has taken a similar path. I have worked in education for a long enough time to know how utterly idiotic parents sound when they scream wildly on the internet that schools are “grooming” children with inappropriate sex education. Nothing of the sort takes place! Some parents may not agree with the curriculum, but in most schools parents are asked for consent before the annual sex ed lessons in certain elementary school grades. To take such a small issue and toxify it with the word “grooming” is catastrophizing in the worst way! It’s offensive to those of us who know firsthand what a safe environment schools really are.

Speaking of children… they’re great! I have said many times in this newspaper and I will continue to say it forever: There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids today! The internet (notice a theme here?) tells us that kids are awful and disrespectful and glued to their phones and video games. Meanwhile, I’m writing this in my basement family room while watching my oldest son – who is polite, respectful, helpful, kind, and a great listener – kick a ball around trying to score on mini nets. He loves soccer, and practices his aim and his agility every day. He has video games, but chooses to have daily active time. 

How many stories have been printed in this newspaper about youth who have come up with charitable initiatives or made amazing accomplishments in sports? I have worked professionally with hundreds of kids and can confidently say that our youth in this area are amazing. They have so much kindness, respect for authority, cleverness, and joy. Today’s parents are doing a great job. How dare some people sit behind a computer typing out nasty things on social media accusing the world of going to shame. There is an obvious irony when those keyboard warriors complain about kids getting too much screen time while they don’t have the imagination to do anything else themselves. 

It’s time to love life again, and as much as I know social media is here to stay, I think that to let go of all this catastrophizing in the world and start seeing the world as an amazing place again, we need to view social media differently. It’s a safe haven for all the world’s most angry and nasty people who have nothing better to do than spread lies, negativity, and downright hate. If we must use it, then we should at least arm ourselves with the knowledge of the harm it can do. 

I love my community, and I love the world we live in. There is no catastrophe – breathe. We should all be grateful for where we live, and for the amazing people who surround us. May everyone reading this find peace, joy and love in the simple things, every day. 

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