Unless you're living in a hole—or in a self-imposed media blackout on a pig farm in Ohio—you've probably noticed the story of Erik Hagerman, a distressed liberal who in November 2016 formed an invisible barrier between his life and the outside world of American politics.
One detail that caught our eye: Hagerman is a former Nike executive who recently worked at the company's Beaverton headquarters.
The New York Times profile of Hagerman explains how the 53-year-old man has barricaded himself in an Ohio pig farm, cutting out newspapers, TV, and conversations with friends and strangers that make reference to the 45th president or the state of the outside world. He calls the artificial forcefield against troubling news "The Blockade."
"It was draconian and complete," he told the Times. "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 lived in Oregon as senior director of global digital commerce at Nike. In 2015, he moved back to rural Ohio, where he grew up.
After Trump became president, he told his friends to stop discussing politics with him—even one friend from his days at Nike who recently got her U.S. citizenship.
Mr. Hagerman has also trained his friends. A close friend from his Nike days, Parinaz Vahabzadeh, didn’t think he was quite serious at first and, in the early days of The Blockade, kept dropping little hints about politics. The new administration compelled her to engage more deeply in politics, not less. She had only recently become a United States citizen, and she was passionate about the immigration debate. She did not let Mr. Hagerman opt out easily. “I was needling him,” she said. And in response, she received, for the first time, a stern text message. “I’m now officially cross with you,” he wrote. “As you know very well I don’t wish to hear about current events. I know you don’t agree with my wishes but I do expect you to respect them.” They now speak on the phone several times a week, but never about the news. “I’ve gotten used to it,” she said. “It’s actually nice to not talk about politics.”
Hagerman says eventually, his friends learned to play along.
He admits that his lifestyle is both a luxury and an abdication of his civil duties.
"It makes me a crappy citizen," he said. "It's the ostrich head-in-the-sand approach to political outcomes you disagree with."