Don’t Panic

December 7, 2007

It’s funny, I was about to write a post saying that I have cut back on how much time I spend reading Cryptogon and I’ve just discovered that Kevin has put Villageblog on his list of links. Of course I’m pleased when people add me to their list but I’d better offer some background for any new readers who’ve linked from there.

As regular readers will know I have gained a lot from Kevin’s analysis – in particular his explanation of how dropping out of mainstream society is the most effective method of undermining the powers that be. That said I have found, since spending three weeks away from my computer that I’m better off if I spend less time at Cryptogon. I still like the site and what it has to offer but the regular diet of scary news that daily visits were giving me was starting to paralyse me.

Whilst visiting less I’m not actually reading less, I’m just making sure I don’t spend so much time in a paralysing headspace. I will continue to keep away from Life After the Oil Crash though – on the face of it LATOC really seems to have scaring the living daylights out of us as it’s primary mission.

It’s pretty odd because I usually don’t have trouble making decisions but I really was getting a bit incapacitated.  At the same time I was thinking this Ran wrote a comment based on the recent Archdruid post, Solvitur Ambulando – we’ll figure it out as we go.

It occurs to me that now that the crash has begun, my own writing about the crash is suddenly irrelevant. I was able to be helpful by studying and thinking about the crash more than other people, but now that we’re in it, experience trumps speculation, and I don’t have any more experience than you do.

If you’ve already been to Ran’s site you will have seen him refer to a comment I made that he still has a lot to offer in the way of helping to prevent panic.

In the email to him I also  said that there have been times where I have found a kind of calming reassurance from visiting his site and that I had occaisionally referred readers to some of his texts for the express purpose of giving them a calmer perspective.

Apart from Dmitry Orlov on occasion there really isn’t anyone else writing in the smash-crash-blogosphere who can write about the future and still impart a sense of hope.

I’m also starting to see the blissful benefits of ignorance. It’s all very well being clued up  but if I’m to spend the rest of my days paralysed by a paranoid expectance of doom I might as well end it all now. I don’t imagine for a minute that a lot of people will agree with me but I also don’t imagine that everyone is as bothered by what they read as I am – although Kevin does make regular reference to the volume of panicky emails he receives. Really I’m trying to avoid the survivalist mentality because I don’t just want to survive, I want to properly enjoy being alive.

The other benefit, which people will appreciate, is that I’m back to making sensible decisions and avoiding the trap of thinking that I have to both predict the future, which is impossible, and devise a detailed plan to deal with it, which will quickly become outdated as real life takes over my predictions.

Ultimately I want to live my life in an enjoyable state of mind irrespective of what is going on around me. That’s not to say I will be ignoring what is happening around me – only that I will endeavour to follow the excellent advice given on the front of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic.



  1. Welcome back, Aaron.

    Yes, I have to agree with what you have posted here. I started following various peak oil boards and LATOC quite a while back, and felt immensely depressed and ineffective. Naturally, I realised that part of the problem is exposure to limited types of information, which is exactly the problem the bulk of society has but with a different emphasis. I starting looking for different information and can thank Monbiot for providing the common thread to most of what I read now: Ran, Kevin, Kunstler, yourself, and the various linked sites. Now, however, I’m allowing a certain amount of ignorance back in to allow myself to concentrate on other things. Every stage is just that, but is also cyclical, so I’ll go through all of this again and again, just for differing periods of time and for differing circumstances. The key is that I’ve changed my reaction to these feelings.

    I’ve found that focussing on changing physical habits and mentally adapting to different concepts, has been a great help. The next step is obtaining a local, part-time job, while not putting my family at risk of financial collapse. To this end, I have finished my first full week of unemployment after resigning from a high-pressure role. I figure if you give yourself no choice, the first step has to be made.

    Where next? Loose and idealistic dreams aside, I don’t know. The aim is to be happy, to feel alive, and for that to flow on to the family. This may not mean reaching a Farmlet-style end goal, but it shouldn’t mean remaining in Auckland. How to get out? When? Where? There’s the rub, and that’s also where the main part of the ad hoc bit comes in.

    Time makes decisions for everyone. If time is represented by a pyramid, the options are greatest at the base. At the top there may only be one option, but who is to say it’s not the right one? I don’t aim wait until I get to the tip, but we’ll see.

  2. On Ignorance:

    Oh, I know the feeling all to well. Everyday that goes by I see the benefits of ignorance and the inevitable paranoia of education. I have recently finished studying various effects of globalization, the one that hit me most was in agriculture. I can’t go into grocery stores anymore without a creeping feeling that the lives of the farmers producing the food that I want to eat are stuck between the oligopolies that are the seed industry and distribution companies.

    Unfortunately, I seem to take it the next step. I seem to have this insatiable sense of duty and responsibility. Once I have seen something, I obviously can’t un-see it and I feel responsible then to act upon or against it.

  3. nameofvalour, is that meant to be sarcastic, I can’t quite tell. If it is, I can list for you my actions in various causes over the last few years and then go into the burnout this produced and the sense of duty etc etc that I should use those same energies for the benefit of my family..

    Kemo, that’s a brave step quitting the job, I think you’ve described the situation well. All I know about the pyramid is that being at the bottom and having a lot of options can cause a kind of mental logjam

  4. I apologize. I did not mean it sarcastically. I feel the same way, it is a hard place to be in: choosing ignorance or burn out. I honestly to feel that tug to act when I see learn about something, many times I do not act on it, for fears of overworking and inability to devote enough time to it.

    I’d still be interested to hear what you have been involved in though!

  5. That’s all good then :-) If you look on the sidebar, the first item on the ‘Read it Again’ list is called Accidental Dropout (a biographical piece), click on that and scroll to the bottom to get to the link to part 2. Click on that and about halfway down you’ll find some info about what I have been doing.

  6. […] I’ve referred to elsewhere is the sense of powerlessness that comes from believing the Master Narrative. Whilst it’s […]

  7. […] My own experience of this is that a constant diet of crash-horror-news seems to wear away at me and steal my energy and my initiative. Clearly I’m not alone, here’s a recent article by Richard Heinberg addressing the issue of burn out amongst the peak oil community, and here’s the best bit: I suspect that the burden of dire knowledge is exacerbated by the psychophysical impact of too much time on the computer and not enough outdoors. It’s an occupational hazard: those of us who are aware of the impending collision of resource depletion with population growth and climate instability have acquired whatever understanding we have through countless hours tracking trends, peering at graphs, and noting news items on glowing screens. Assuming you’re reading my words on-line right now, you might want to bookmark this page and jump for a moment to http://homenet.hcii.cs.cmu.edu/, the site of an on ongoing research project of Carnegie Mellon University that has concluded that “Greater use of the Internet is associated with increases in loneliness and symptoms of depression.” […]

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