A former Nike executive took living “off the grid” to a whole new level after Donald Trump became president when he decided to become a hermit on an Ohio farm and stop consuming news.
Erik Hagerman, 53, told the New York Times moving to the Ohio pig farm where he resides alone is the only way he can cope with “the devastation” of Trump winning the 2016 presidential election.
“It was draconian and complete,” he said in an interview the Times published Saturday. “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.”
Hagerman told the news outlet that it had been more than a year since he heard any news about American politics and that he has taken “elaborate measures”—such as blasting white noise through his headphones while out and about and watching the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games on mute—to ensure his ignorance of the outside world.
The former Nike exec said he also does not get on social media and requests that his family and friends do not speak to him about the news or current events.
The Times profile, titled “The Man Who Knew Too Little,” says Hagerman lives out a “liberal fantasy” on his Ohio pig farm, where he spends his time making art and avoiding any mention of current events.
Once the Times profile gained traction online, many journalists criticized Hagerman for being selfish and having the “privilege” to live an ignorant lifestyle.
“People whose families are being torn apart by the deportation tactics of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents don’t get to be ignorant. People who are affected by gun violence don’t get to be ignorant. People who require health care to live past the end of the month don’t get to be ignorant,” Mashable reporter Kellen Beck wrote.
Jamil Smith, a senior writer for Rolling Stone, also criticized Hagerman for his “willful ignorance.”
Erik Hagerman is doing exactly the wrong thing. I’m all for mental health breaks, especially with this @POTUS—but willful ignorance helps no one. Opting out like this may get you profiled in @nytimes, but that isn’t always a good thing. https://t.co/QnQ3fQ71QO
Even the socialist magazine Jacobin decided to mock Hagerman’s self-imposed news ban:
Jacobin hired a liberal method actor in November 2016, his name is Erik Hagerman. Cost a fortune, but comedy will forever thank us. https://t.co/4qnMTbfEsJ
“Jacobin hired a liberal method actor in November 2016, his name is Erik Hagerman. Cost a fortune, but comedy will forever thank us,” the site tweeted Saturday.
Hagerman’s sister did not deny that her brother had been privileged, telling the Times that she knew her brother had the ability to “construct a dream world” that most Americans could not.
“He has the privilege of constructing a world in which very little of what he doesn’t have to deal with gets through,” Bonnie Hagerman told the Times. “That’s a privilege. We all would like to construct our dream worlds. Erik is just more able to do it than others.”