That’s not how this thing works.
Tomorrow you will not be happy.
The machine isn’t designed for your happiness. No matter which candidate wins, your brain won’t want the happiness of the victory as much as it will crave the desire to be angry at the Other Side.
Your brain has been trained by Fox News and Breitbart and Twitter and MSNBC to be angry. They make money from your anger. You don’t turn on the TV every evening to celebrate victories. You don’t open Twitter on your phone to read good news.
Trust me, I once worked for a start-up media company that just told “good news” stories. Nobody read them. The company lost millions.
Tomorrow you will not be happy because the people you trust will not allow you to be happy.
Your favorite commentators don’t get paid millions to make you happy. They get paid to keep your eyeballs on the screen. The screen has never brought you joy. Tucker Carlson has never left you feeling happy. Rachel Maddow has never given you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
Anger keeps you divided from the evil people on the Other Side. Anger makes you donate money. Anger makes you buy the pillows and sheets advertised in between five-minute segments about the Other Side tearing this country apart. The only thing keeping the country together is the few Patriots bold enough to advertise on your favorite show. The only thing between dictatorship and democracy is buying the right can of beans.
No, tomorrow you will not be happy because you are not happy today. Happiness doesn’t come from the White House. It comes from your house. It comes from how you spend your time. The anger machine only produces anger. It isn’t designed to produce anything else. Think about the people you are most jealous of in life. I’ve never thought, “Boy I sure am jealous of that guy who spends all day on social media” or “I sure wish I watched more TV news like that guy.” No one has ever said “my favorite part about that person is how they wedge politics into every conversation.”
Almost everyone would express jealousy about the guy who lives “off the grid” and doesn’t have social media or TV. We set goals to read more books every year, but never to doomscroll more times through Twitter. But why can’t we become the person we are most jealous of? Because the anger feels so good. Like any drug that has rewired our brains we are afraid of what would happen if we don’t have it. We justify its uses. “I’ll be uninformed and if I’m uninformed then they can get away with ____ and the country will fall apart.” Or we say we have it under control, “I don’t spend that much time on social media. I don’t watch that much TV. Not as much as the real junkies. So I’ll just indulge a little tonight.” Four hours later, it’s off to bed with a head full of hate.
No, tomorrow you will not be happy because your happiness doesn’t actually depend on election results. Your happiness depends on what you fill your brain with. If you fill your brain with things that make you unhappy today then you will be doing the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next day. You won’t stop craving the anger because your side won an election. Michael Jordan didn’t stop trying to win championships because it felt so good to win one. You’ll credit your anger with the victory and pursue it more. It will change your relationships with family, it will affect your mental and physical health, and it will make you suspicious of those you don’t know.
If you think I’m talking to you specifically, it’s because I am. And if you think I’m being judgmental, it’s because I am. The reason I can speak so boldly to you is because I am speaking to me. Everything I’ve just said is from personal experience. I know exactly what I’m talking about because I’ve seen it in myself. And it’s why today I’m choosing to do things that make me happy and make me a better person. I’m blocking Twitter. I’m sharing this post and then getting off social media. I’m playing soccer tonight with my friends while the election results roll in. Me watching won’t affect the results. I’ve already voted, and, spoiler alert, it didn’t make me any more or less happy.
No, tomorrow you will not be happy unless you are happy today. And your happiness shouldn’t depend on politicians or pundits who rely on your anger. Turn off the TV, block social media, and choose happiness instead of anger.