Spend Your Political Time Carefully

The Opportunity Cost of Thought and Speech

With so many problems in the world it can be very hard to figure out where to spend your time in advocacy. I won’t pretend that I have any clear answers to that but I do want to push everyone on one important point →

We have limited time and limited mental resources for advocacy and political discourse. Every moment we spend worrying about one problem is a moment not spent worrying about other problems. So, there is a natural opportunity cost to the time we spend on political issues.

This may seem really obvious to most of us, and that’s okay. What matters in this situation is how we let this idea influence our decisions about what we read, what we write, and how we spend our money. And depending on how you think about this, it could mean a total restructuring of how you approach your social media.

The best way to show this is through example. Take the recent stories about Trump’s tax returns. For those of you lucky enough not to be pulled into this, he found loopholes around taxes and had massive business losses over the last couple decades.

For anyone who has been following news about Trump since his nomination, none of this should be surprising. Now, sure, it is sad that this sort of thing is possible, and the story certainly confirms our suspicions that Trump is more of media figure than an honest-to-god businessman, but it almost certainly won’t change the minds of voters and it doesn’t really give you new information about the president. In other words, the story is a waste of time. Every second spent ranting about on Twitter is a moment not spent reading, thinking, and writing about something that matters.

So I’d like to push people to take this idea more seriously in their online life. Online political discourse is hard and time consuming. The emotional strain of the process is taxing and we need to make sure that we are spending that time on the right issues.

Written by

Math Teacher writing on Philosophy and Policy and Science and Education and Other Things. coreykeyser@gmail.com

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