I Want My Time Back

Why I wish I could bill the President for lost time

Donald Trump spent 513 days running for president and against all sense and decency, he got the job. As of July 23, 2018, he’s been in the news as a candidate or president for 3 years, 1 month, 8 days. That’s 1134 straight days with Donald Trump in the news. And while I hope that elected Democrats (and some Republicans) work very hard to keep the pressure on him, I have to get back to work at some point. We all have to get back to work.

What do I mean by this? I am not saying: “move on” or “just accept the results” or “he’s everyone’s president”. That’s not going to happen, and given the way things have been going, it probably should not happen. We have to stay informed, aware, and involved.

Still, I want to write a brief lament to the loss of time, loss of ideas, loss of cognition that was a fallout of the Trump campaign and presidency. I write this so that I can eject these thoughts from my mind and clear some mental space, maybe just for a few days. I’d like to reclaim some of the time he’s cost me. I’d send him a bill, if I could, though I know he’d stiff me on the bill.

What I lost

I probably spent several minutes to hours nearly each day reading about Trump, talking about Trump with family and friends, and arguing about his candidacy, election, and presidency. Why? Because that’s what was in the news. That’s what was on Twitter, that’s what was going on. I’ve posting my opinions, looked up facts, read tweets, retweeted retweets. I’ve worried, thought, ruminated. No one outside of my own wife and children deserves that much of my mental real estate, and Mr. Trump most certainly does not.

Suppose I spent just 15 minutes a day thinking about Mr. Trump. Well that’s 15 minutes X 1134 days or 17010 minutes. That’s almost 12 days! That means I essentially wasted over an entire vacation week because of Trump. And of course, there’s cognitive switching time and the mental effort expended just trying to ignore Trump news. Add in an extra 10 min for that an we’re close to 20 days…I very well could have lost a nearly one month of my of my life because of Donald Trump. SAD!

And I’m really lucky: I benefit from the privilege of being white, being straight, being male, and now living in Canada. Others are less privileged. Others have worried more and lost far more time. Many have lost more than just time.

What we all lost

Consider all the countless news stories, essays, think pieces, radio, TV, SNL sketches, etc. that were written and rewritten over the past 3 years. All on Trump, crowding other things from our mind space. Consider the worried collective consciousness of America. Think of what we’ve lost.

What new discoveries were never made because a critical idea just slipped away as we were obsessing or worried about the president’s next move? What new relationships failed to take root because we were looking for the next Trump tweet? What families drifted apart as they argued about Trump? And I’m just discussing lost time. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface lost faith / trust in media, damages to international relationships, and the economic fallout from trade wars.

We (the royal “we”, the editorial “we”) let this person, this candidate, this uncouth president occupy the public conscious for far too long. I want my time back. It was an ill-advised investment with poor returns.

I know we need to remain vigilant and take care not to condone or normalize this, but we cannot let him own our minds. So look to the solutions. Call your congressperson or senator. Work to ensure that there is a slate of electable candidates for the 2018 mid terms. Get involved for the next steps. Don’t let the president decide what you think about.

Move forward, don’t just move on.

Author and Professor of Psychology at Western University. I write about Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Higher Education. http://jpminda.com/

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