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Opinion

Political Abstinence

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WFAE commentator Rob Jacik hspace=2

http://66.225.205.104/CM20081030.mp3

Six weeks ago, I was so consumed by this election that, I'll be honest; I couldn't imagine going even a few hours without an update. I spent all day on my computer hopping from web site to web site and blog to blog looking for the latest news. I was just as interested in the scandalous gossip about lipstick and pigs as I was about the latest reform proposals from either campaign. Then everything changed. I went on a business trip and was so busy with meetings, presentations and working dinners that I had no time for my usual websites or talk radio shows. That made me realize how consuming all this mental chatter was and I started to wonder if I even needed it. I mean, really, at this point I've already made up my mind about who I'm going to vote for and there's probably nothing that's going to change that. So I went cold turkey on all politics until Election Day. The first week of my political abstinence was easier than I expected. Headlines grabbed my attention, but I resisted reading further. Turning off talk shows wasn't as easy, but I found alternatives and to avoid the temptation I changed all my radio presets to music stations and sports talk shows. I made an exception with the debates. I watched the first Presidential debate and I learned nothing new. But what really got to me was the second debate between Obama and McCain. All the venom they were spitting back and forth in their Town Hall left me with a sour taste. I felt like the smoker who quit and now finds the smell of cigarettes nauseating. I turned it off after 20 minutes. I've discovered that without pundits pumping their poison into my veins everyday, the chatter in my mind has cooled off, and I'm able to focus more on the things that matter. My friends and family keep asking, "Aren't you afraid you'll miss something important?" I tell them, "If something comes along big enough to change my vote I won't be able to avoid it." And from what I've heard, the only big thing I've seemed to miss is Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. I've got to say, I'm still tempted to listen to my talk radio shows, but the interesting thing is the other night I got into a political discussion with a friend and we went back and forth on the same old issues. When I walked away I couldn't turn it off, I was still arguing with him in my head and it didn't feel good. I'm actually not sure at this point if I'll ever go back to my old political habits after Election Day. But if I do, I'll certainly approach them in a brand new way. Rob Jacik is a writer in Charlotte. Right now he is living under a rock, trying to avoid getting caught up in politics for another four days.