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follow TwoScoopsPlissken 2018 Mar 13, 2:23pm
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GLOUSTER, Ohio — At first, the experiment didn’t have a name.Right after the election, Erik Hagerman decided he’d take a break from reading about the hoopla of politics.Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.He swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.“It was draconian and complete,” he said. “It’s not like I wanted to just steer away from Trump or shift the conversation. It was like I was a vampire and any photon of Trump would turn me to dust.”It was just going to be for a few days. But he is now more than a year into knowing almost nothing about American politics. He has managed to become shockingly uninformed during one of the most eventful chapters in modern American history. He is as ignorant as a contemporary citizen could ever hope to be.James Comey. Russia. Robert Mueller. Las Vegas. The travel ban. “Alternative facts.” Pussy hats. Scaramucci. Parkland. Big nuclear buttons. Roy Moore.He knows none of it. To Mr. Hagerman, life is a spoiler.“I just look at the weather,” said Mr. Hagerman, 53, who lives alone on a pig farm in southeastern Ohio. “But it’s only so diverting.”He says he has gotten used to a feeling that he hasn’t experienced in a long time. “I am bored,” he said. “But it’s not bugging me.”It takes meticulous planning to find boredom. Mr. Hagerman commits as hard as a method actor, and his self-imposed regimen — white-noise tapes at the coffee shop, awkward scolding of friends, a ban on social media — has reshaped much of his life.Extreme as it is, it’s a path that likely holds some appeal for liberals these days — a D.I.Y. version of moving to Canada....At some point last year, he decided his experiment needed a name. He considered The Embargo, but it sounded too temporary. The Boycott? It came off a little whiny.Mr. Hagerman has created a fortress around himself. “Tiny little boats of information can be dangerous,” he said.He decided that it would be called The Blockade.Behind the BlockadeFor a guy who has gone to great lengths to essentially plug his ears, Mr. Hagerman sure does talk a lot. He is witty and discursive, punctuating his stories with wild-eyed grins, exaggerated grimaces and more than the occasional lost thread.I recently spent two days visiting his farm on the condition that I not bring news from the outside world. As the sun set over his porch, turning the rolling hills pink then purple then blue, he held forth, jumping from English architecture to the local pigs’ eating habits to his mother’s favorite basketball team to the philosophy of Kant. He can go days without seeing another soul.This life is still fairly new. Just a few years ago, he was a corporate executive at Nike (senior director of global digital commerce was his official, unwieldy title) working with teams of engineers to streamline the online shopping experience. Before that, he had worked digital jobs at Walmart and Disney.