With those twin tsunamis crashing atop us all, which will bring out the worst in us? Will an unflattering video or photo taken on an iPhone 5 determine the outcome of the election? Will the next mass maiming happen at an Apple Store? In the back-and-forth about whether iPhone 5 will save the economy or fail in the marketplace, which candidate will take credit for its success, and which will blame the other for its failure? I can just feel it, too: at some point on November 6, one of my friends will have an excuse for not voting that will somehow be iPhone 5 related.
While this anxiety may seem silly in many parts of the U.S., these questions are pieces of conversations I’ve been a part of or have overheard around town. In L.A. – a city where people pretend $4.20 a gallon doesn’t hurt and where keeping up with the Joneses or staying with the pack is a quality of life issue – this noise means something. Hence my prediction that some folks will be too caught up in the chatter to remember their right to vote, or too overloaded to care.
Believe me, when I first heard the term “Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” it was (literally) framed in the context of a television commercial and bookended by more of Big Pharma’s “side effects may include…” language. So I laughed. I mean, Generalized Anxiety Disorder? C’mon, they’re just selling more pills. Yet with all that does flip us out – whether adopted or circumstantial – it’s no wonder so many of us are herded up, unable to deal with the world and its pressures on a rational basis.
Take me, for example. Here I am, driving around a zippy little 2010 Toyota that came my way via an irresistible lease offer. Well, I scratched it – and then I dented it. So I’m disappointed in myself, and I start thinking other drivers are looking down on me because I can’t manage a simple parking space. I know they are, in fact, since that’s exactly what I do to others. If I see a dangling mirror or a nasty sideswipe, I naturally think, “Haw-haw! You botched a traffic cheat!”
Just about the same time as my judgment of others is heightening thoughts of what my own car’s imperfections say about me, I get a mailer from the dealership with a new irresistible lease offer. Boom! I’m softened up for the kill. And the dealership is offering me a new iPad if I qualify for a lease buyout! Now I’m not only imagining how nice it would be to be driving around a 2012 Toyota with no scratches, I’m playin’ music on my new iPad! A newer car, no judgment, and a return to good-driver anonymity…all for just a few bucks more a month.
But somehow even that isn’t good enough, so I begin my research to find an even better offer. I start taking my Toyota to body shops to see how much I’d have to pay to repair the scratch and the dent so I can increase my negotiating power. I’m also mentally puttin’ my back against the wall to guard against the dealer’s tricks (bastards). And it’s all unnecessary stress, which I’m adding to my own life in order to drive a car that’s practically identical to the one in my driveway.
First comes cognitive distortion (my asinine thoughts), then emotional reasoning (where I mistake feeling for fact). Making a mountain out of a molehill, or catastrophizing, is next (believing something is worse than it is), followed by overgeneralization (basing my entire reality on one small thing).
I needlessly increase my own anxiety, and, in this case, I didn’t even get a free iPad. I did wind up spending four hours at a dealership and driving away with a lease for a new (scratch-less) 2012 Toyota. It’s completely idiotic, and, frankly, privileged: I spent a good chunk of my time and ratcheted up my life’s tension almost entirely based on a perception of what others think – strangers I pass on the highway, no less! Yet more and more, we’re all being trained to adopt this way of thinking.
So, is Generalized Anxiety Disorder really all that mockable? Not for some. Especially since Big Pharma came up with the name years ago, and we merely allowed ourselves to fulfill its commercial purpose. (Yes, Aldos Huxley is probably turning over in his grave.)
My point is, I really want an iPhone 5. My iPhone 4 is cool and all, and it’s in perfect condition. But an iPhone 5 would put me above those who might think less of me ‘cause I don’t have an iPhone 5. Whenever people get ’em, that is.
And there’s an app for that! Smartphone anxiety can be a thing of the past, now that Harvard University researchers have begun work on an anti-stress app aimed at reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Awesome! Call it “Therapy-by-Phone,” or how ’bout “Angry Herds”?
But what does any of this have to do with the coming U.S. presidential election?
Wait, there’s an election?