Life is a tragedy. It always surprises us, and eventually, we all die.
But tragedies don’t have to lead to disasters. A disaster is a shared emergency that overwhelms our interactions and stories.
Lately, they have become a business model and an endless part nowadays. If we live in a world dominated by attention, catastrophizing is a sure way to grab it. It’s a bright red button that blocks forward movement.
If it helped, it wouldn’t be a problem. If it helped, we could use our resources to make a difference. But it’s not designed to help, it’s designed to shift our attention and activate our emotions.
It could be the catastrophe of world events, or the political melee or even a disgruntled customer on Yelp.
For too long, people with power and privilege have simply ignored the things that matter, and catastrophizing is a reasonable response, until it begins to undermine the work we need to do. It quickly becomes a version of Pressfield’s resistance, a way to avoid looking into important projects that might not work out, because it’s safer to focus on something there than to work on something here. .
And it’s exhausting. Disaster fatigue sets in, and we eventually lose interest and walk away, until the next emergency arrives.
Catastrophizing ends up distracting us from the long-term systemic work to which we are committed. It’s a signal that we care about what’s happening right now, but it also keeps us from focusing on what’s going to happen soon.
The best way to care is to persist in changing the culture and our systems to make things better over time.