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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

With Constant Political Uproar, It's Important To Find Time To Detach

There is no shortage of news. That’s a common refrain in the news business. News is easy to access. But WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson says it’s also important to take a break from all the craziness and controversy

We went to the mountains with some friends a couple of weekends ago. I’m more of a flatlander – I grew up on the Georgia coast – but in October, there’s not much better than the high country. We breathed air that was 20 degrees cooler than back in Charlotte. We saw chipmunks and wild turkeys and a groundhog who paid our car absolutely no mind as he trotted down the middle of the road.

But in this beautiful place, with no cell-phone reception, it took about two minutes for us to start talking politics.

I don’t know how President Trump has done at job creation, but I can tell you one thing he’s created: This constant sense that something – possibly a terrible something – might happen at any second. Before Trump, there were days or weeks when I didn’t know or much care what the president was doing. I didn’t always agree with what the president stood for, but I figured America was like a well-built car. If something started to go wrong, a warning light would come on.

These days the warning light is on ALL THE TIME.

And so it’s just about impossible to stop thinking about it or talking about it. There were nine of us up in that mountain house, and at some point just about all of us went on one rant or another about the state of the country. It was like one of those panel shows on CNN, except with people you’d actually want to have dinner with.

This is not healthy.

It’s never been easier to be all-consumed by the news. If you want to – and I’m not sure why anybody would want to – you can get alerts sent to your phone every couple of minutes about the latest disaster, or the latest thing that should be a disaster but has somehow become just a normal part of our day.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to detach now and then. I used to use my phone as my alarm clock, which meant the first thing I did every morning was pick up my phone, which meant I was checking the news before I was even all the way awake. So I got a cheap alarm clock and I charge the phone in another room. Most days I leave it there until I’m done with breakfast. It makes the morning so much more peaceful.

Detaching is not the same as not caring. I hope this last couple of years has shown everybody that we need to care more about making this country what we want it to be. But it does us no good to worry about it every waking second. It just wears us out. We’re a lot better off stepping away for a while – taking a walk, listening to music, reading a cheesy novel. Or maybe going away for the weekend.

That Sunday afternoon up in the mountains, we watched the Panthers game together. To be honest, that came out of politics, too – we wanted to see if Eric Reid would kneel for the national anthem. But once he did, and the game started, we mostly just talked about great plays and bad calls and the unique genius of Cam Newton. And then at the end, when Graham Gano made an insane 63-yard field goal to win the game, we jumped out of our seats and high-fived and hugged. In that moment, politics was the last thing on our minds. We had finally escaped. It felt so good.

Tommy Tomlinson’s commentaries appear every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. They represent his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to his commentaries in the comments below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.