What shall we remember and tell unbelieving listeners in the future about this week of July 2018?
Brave and death defying rescue from underground caves? World Cup progress? Or the aftermath of a meeting at Chequers about which certain journalists used the term ‘body bags’? Gosh. What to choose? It seems impossible to escape the feedback loop of gasp-worthy news followed by disbelief; and repeat.
If the words ‘febrile’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘crisis’, ‘challenge’, ‘dramatic’, ‘turmoil’ were temporarily unavailable, how strangely empty the news reports would have been.
But that disbelief reaction becomes noticeably more fatigued after each cycle of headlines, doesn’t it?
It is as if a sort of self-protecting de-sensitisation kicks in.
Rather like boredom.
It happens all the time in organisations.
Robert Wringham writes in ‘The Idler’ this month of a new managerial word to describe this phenomenon.
It’s not ‘Burnout’. Its ‘Rustout’.
He describes it as when ‘he or she simply decays, physically and spiritually, because of boredom’.
Output maximising management theory will emphasise increasing the stress (yes, truly) on those experiencing ‘rust out’ to solve things. Mr Wringham points out that the real cause is not stress levels, but bound up in not valuing what is thrust at us.
When we are overwhelmed constantly with dramatic superlatives, we cannot find true value.
We withdraw. We experience ‘Rustout’.
How to escape?
Do whatever you can to defy or subvert that feedback loop.
Either stop following the lurid narratives, and introduce alternative nourishing activities.
Or laugh at it. All of it.