Worrying about worrying

  • “Worries,” somebody explained to me at the gym recently, while I pedalled away on a stationery bike, “don’t go away when you get older. If anything, they get worse.  I used to think they would disappear when the children were older, but they didn’t.”
  • Worries have shapes. Some are circular: the strange noise of the car’s engine, will there be time to get to the garage tomorrow, who will fetch the child, eczema, no milk, the strange noise of the car. Others are straight lines: the strange noise of the car’s engine, the odd pain in your knee, bone cancer, death.
  • The professionals who make the most money from worriers are probably doctors and psychologists. Or perhaps they are insurance salespeople.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy suggests various strategies for dealing with worries like thought scheduling. When you’re getting obsessive about something, you’re meant to stop the thought and schedule the worry for a specific time, for example, between five and six in the evening. How come scheduling sex supposedly makes the sex more intense (the anticipation?), whereas scheduling worries makes them less feverish?worried-canine-face-closeup-11441538
  • Another way to stop worrying is by focusing on the present, being mindful. It does sort of work. Worrying is about the future.
  • The worst worries of all are the ones that strike between two and four in the morning.
  • The designated worrier in the family is the one with the to-do lists: the family manager. It’s generally the mother.
  • It strange that the word ‘worrier’ and ‘warrior’ are homophones. Might fighting be a solution to worrying?
  • All worries have the same centre. Mary Gaitskill, in an interview in the Believer, poetically describes what I consider to be this centre: “…we’re going to fall apart, kind of dissolve back into this vast soup from whence we came, whatever that is. It’s almost like these beings pop out of this massive sludge and then they get sucked back into it, and that’s a really hard thing to comprehend.”
  • Although a survey reports that our biggest worry is actually about our stomachs – and whether we are overweight.

Six Dangerous Things

One of the best things about Tony Soprano was that you knew he was psychopathic, but you liked him anyway. Each time, you thought he’d behave better; naturally, he never did. He was consistently disappointing you, but he remained addictive. It makes me think of Facebook.

Having witnessed mob mentality on FB recently, I was struck by the following: grem

  1. There are a hang of a lot of moderate people who hold themselves back in these debates. This skews the results. People believe they have more support and / or criticism than they really have because most people just don’t want to get involved. They stand back. In some ways it resembles the famous bystander effect in psychology.
  2. I think that people tend to be less aggressive to each other face-to-face, because body language (a raised eyebrow, a slight smile) both diffuses tension and moderates what you say next in social situations, at least some of the time. In other words, it’s better to go and have a drink with people who have different views to your own than engage with them on social media.
  3. Social media makes itself feel like the whole world when actually you have just self-selected into that little piece of the world. Often an echo chamber is created, where you think certain people have a lot more power / support than they really have. They are merely surrounded by people who repeat their sentiments. If you follow different people, you create a different world. (Parts of this last thought come from my friend Ryan.) *

Seeing as though I’m discussing dangerous things, like Facebook mobs, I thought I would also try to bring the topic closer to home by thinking of dangerous things I’ve done.  (Because it’s my blog, I don’t need to worry about logical transitions).

I’ve put them in ascending order of danger:

  1. I’ve smoked a giant joint in Dahab with somebody who had supposedly descended from Egyptian aristocracy. He rolled the joint from newspaper. It gave me a terrible headache.
  2. I’ve engaged in a sexual activity under Rondebosch bridge in the middle of the night. (Not recently.)
  3. I’ve swum in a hotel swimming pool in Malaysia during a lightning storm. It was exhilarating.
  4. I’ve got engaged after seeing someone in person for five days. (We did write letters before that.)
  5. I’ve had two children. I know it doesn’t seem that having children is dangerous, but the genetic lottery means it’s entirely unpredictable. The child is not, as one would think, an equal blend of the parents. Some tartar rapist ancestor genes (always been my mother’s theory about how I got my red hair from my Russian ancestors) or a genius musical gene can get mixed into the DNA milkshake. Anything can happen.

* For further social media theories, check out the famous Lazarus Lemon Meringue Pie vs Oral Sex Facebook ‘easy like’ principle .