Poll porn’s debilitating effects
I’m trying as hard as I can to stay off fivethirtyeight.com, electoral-vote, and especially Yahoo’s “create your own scenario” map, which I keep modifying to show how easily we can lose. I acknowledge that poll porn is one of those vile things that gives you a buzz because it gives you an illusion of control, but then it just reminds you that you don’t have control and you get a poll porn hangover. Pessimism feels like it protects you, because you feel that you’ve cushioned the blow if you lose, and you can always win and feel better. But in truth, it tends to breed paranoia, where you constantly look for ways to get more information to prove your pessimism right or wrong. And the ugly truth is that it has no real effect on whether or not you’re elated by a win or crushed by a loss.
I tend to compare it to the mental state you have to get into so that you aren’t worried that your significant other is cheating on you. Or anything, really, that’s beyond your control but that makes you worry. Even if it’s going to rain out your wedding or that your team is going to lose the big game. Realize that worry doesn’t change the outcome, nor will it soften the blow if the worst happens. Realize that what will happen will happen, and that the only thing that worry does is makes it worse. If you win, then you wasted your time, but if you lose, you also wasted time worrying and made it worse than it had to be. Letting go—it’s easier said than done, but it’s necessary.
That said, I’m somewhat inclined to put $20 on McCain as a way to hedge, but I realized that winning a chunk of money wouldn’t make me feel any better if we lose, so I’m not going to do that.