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I’m thinking of taking up paranoia as a hobby.

It’s not that life has become too comfortable. It’s just that there is so much of it hanging about that I might as well take some enjoyment from it. It works on the same principle as the overworked person who gets ill. Sometimes lying in bed feeling revolting is the change that is as good as a holiday.

There’s enough to be paranoid about, obviously, and with fairly good reason. For a start it seems that the Trump administration is looking to be a hawk. One of his advisors, a guy called Bannon, seems to want a war with China. China is big. China is a lot more productive than most nations. There’s also a Chinese guy who lives in our street, and I really don’t want to have to get into the whole solidarity thing because the US has declared war on one of my neighbors.

I could also be paranoid about fascism. The whole of that administration seems to be riddled with dodgy types who want people to conform to some or other standard. There’s nothing much wrong with standardization, but only if it is products. Standardization of people is morally wrong, sort of like the Nazis tried when they demanded that the whole bow down to them.

But these are well-worn paths now, these few long weeks into the new US regime. There are more interesting reasons to be paranoid.

One of the wittier ideas doing the rounds is that Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free western world. What if she can’t cope with that mantle, finds it weighs her down? What if she doesn’t respond to the idea? She seems to have been going with quiet moral behavior and good management, rather than hogging the limelight. And every single other leader has been behaving strangely on the global stage with the exception of Vladimir Putin, who seems to be quietly making moves on the Ukraine.

Personally, I miss the good old days of conspiracy theories. The thing with them was they were not widespread. A couple of people would go about muttering about UFOs or evil cabals of bankers, and the rest of us could look forward to an amusing TV series, without bothering too much about the reality of the matter.

Compared to the brand of fundamentalist Christians and their apparent desire for preemptive eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth, the Satanist denizens of the apartment building in Rosemary’s Baby look positively benevolent.

Nowadays, the conspiracies seem to be quite out in the open, which robs them of their interest. It seems pretty pointless to imagine that a clique of people in the White House are conspiring to start a war with China, when one of the US President’s senior advisors states openly that the US will probably go to war with China. Conspiracy theories are supposed to be hidden from us.

The playbook seems to be inspired by a Tom Clancy novel. And if things go the way they seem to be headed, all the tuna will probably be so radioactive, the tins in the local shop will glow in the dark.

By setting up for paranoia as a hobby, I am going with the new normal doctrine, the idea that when things get a bit more hectic, the best strategy is to accept them as normal, don’t bother to be shocked, and get on with life.

The only solution I have right now is to avoid the news. The glow of the tins of tuna on local shelves will be all I need to tell me that the worst actually did come to the worst.

It seems like the comforting route, but it’s not. According to press reports, the hand on the Doomsday Clock has advanced closer to midnight again, which means that there is a greater possibility of global catastrophe, and radioactive tuna.

In the absence of any answer, here’s an explanation that might be of some interest. The people at the root of the problem will not profit personally from power. Their aim is to be noticed, to have control and to manipulate. There is a name for people like that: trolls.

These trolls have our attention, pathetic as they are. And sadly, the only way to defeat a troll is to ignore her or him. Can humanity afford that?

About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.