The Distraction Storm

Climate-change activists protest in New York City, October 10, 2019. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
The paroxysms of outrage, panic, hatred, and denunciation that play out online and in real life every day hide our failing institutions in plain sight.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE ‘T o see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” George Orwell observed.

What’s even more of a struggle is avoiding it. That’s why we have the distraction storm.

Thinking about the present is, for some of us, nearly unbearable. One way we deal with that is by inventing fantastical future scenarios — now catastrophic, now paradisiacal, from climate disaster to various political utopias. That is how you sell lottery tickets and home-title-protection policies — by making the future, its promise or its terror, an analgesic against the pain of the present.

Or else we look in the opposite direction,

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