It is common wisdom that admitting one has a problem is the first step towards recovery, which I understand is a basic tenet of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Well, I have a problem, an addiction if you will, and it has nothing to do with alcohol. Nor does it have anything to do with sex or cocaine, naming just two addictions that sound more glamorous than they actually are.
You see, I’m addicted to dishes. Fine china, crockery, transferware—show me the right place setting and I’m in love. I’ve got white dishes and colorful dishes. I’ve got everyday dishes and special occasion dishes. I’ve got new dishes, old dishes, and new dishes designed to look like old dishes. What I don’t have is the room or the need for any more dishes.
Oh, and I’ve seen those unsolicited articles on social media entitled something like, “The 20 Things You’re Saving That Your Kids Don’t Want.” Dishes are one of them, and your kids not wanting them is exactly why I have a set of late 19th Century dishes that can’t go in the microwave and which were bought at 75% off in the ending hours of an estate sale. But, boy, do they make a chicken salad sandwich and chips look way more special.
But before anyone decides to make fun of my addiction, obsessive behavior manifests in many forms. Take sports, for example. My sister had that particular problem, and some of you probably do as well. I would assert that anyone whose endorphins get released while watching a football game may be two touchdowns and a field goal away from something akin to opioid addiction.
I’ve described myself as a political junkie over the years, even writing a column about it a while back. That piece included this bit of somewhat trenchant commentary:
While Americans may no longer depend on print journalism to be well-informed, they don’t depend on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox either. Because, let’s face it, those of us who haunt those networks aren’t looking for the news of the day. We’re junkies. And our dealers (Wolf Blitzer, Rachel Maddow, Megyn Kelly, et al.) have been cutting our drugs with baby powder.
The names of some of the dealers may have changed, but the junkie part is still the same.
Looking around, there are more vendors these days selling “news” to an audience seeking only bias confirmation. Certainly social media in all its forms provides a fair amount of claptrap that lacks context, accuracy, and completeness, but it is at least easy to share by those who seemingly got through school without ever having done their homework.
But “politics as an addictive interest” has moved past the endorphin-producing stage of excitement coupled with the possibility of winning or losing. More and more, it seems we’re less interested in getting it right and have greater interest in proving everyone else to be wrong.
Hurling insults isn’t political discourse, and getting upset isn’t part of any winning strategy. Paying attention to any commentator, cable network, or internet source whose goal is to get us worked up is not actually participating in our democracy—for those of us who still believe in that increasingly quaint notion. Getting us upset is the first step in getting us to tune in tomorrow, or to come back later in the day, or just to keep watching into the next hour.
Now before someone says, “Don’t look now, Craig, but your privilege is showing,” allow me to clarify the difference between becoming upset and being angry. Upset gets us nothing. Anger, on the other hand, can cool down to planning, being strategic, and doing something about what made us angry in the first place. The options for what to do are broad, but at a minimum it means making sure to vote, regardless of what impediments, inconvenience, and other obstacles some sons of bitches may put down in one’s way.
So I’m trying this sort of political methadone—changing the channel to TCM more often than not—to see if it’s easier to keep a clear head when I’m not being bombarded by invitations to dance to someone else’s tune.
Regardless of how that works, it isn’t going to help me with the dishes problem. Don’t tell Karl, but I bought nine dinner plates today. No cups, no saucers, no bowls, no serving pieces, no little plates for anything else. They’re pretty, and they were practically free. And who’s going to buy dinner plates alone, with nothing to go with them?
Me. Dish addicted, not yet in a 12-step program, me.