It’s going to be a marathon, folks. And we need you all primed, warmed-up, and ready.
Many people have expressed feelings of helplessness and hopelessness to me in recent days. The adrenalin of the immediate aftermath of the election has waned, and the disinformation and sheer number of horrific developments and (belatedly discovered) conflicts of interest surrounding Trump is overwhelming. It’s important to manage the input in order to produce useful output in defense of yourself and others.
I’ve been there. Often I am there. And I want to share a few techniques to help you get through this marathon with your sanity and physical well-being intact. I hope you’ll share useful techniques in the comments as well. Please.
- Don’t go into the light! Shut off your devices for long periods of time. We’ve gotten so used to BREAKING news and alerts and push notifications and the 24 hours news cycle, that it seems normal. It’s not. The news will still be there when you return, and it will probably be better, more useful, more accurate news. I promise.
- Focus on what most matters to you. Choose one or two issues and stick with those. Believe me, I also feel like the world is collapsing around me. Between the VRA, Education, LGBTQ equality, Muslim registries, anti-Semitic acts, rising Hate Crimes, the continued need to assert that Black Lives Matter, Reproductive Rights, Banking Regulation, and a general realization that we have elected a demagogue with white nationalist leanings, it feels like it’s all too much. It’s not! Choose two issues that mean the most to YOU, and focus on those. That doesn’t mean you can’t sign petitions (although it’s better to call your elected reps) or join in on activities for other issues, but try to stick to news and alerts about your chosen issues. Become an expert on THOSE. And don’t worry, if you’re connected to social media, you’ll get plenty of updates for everything else.
- Choose which media you’ll consume. Pick your favorite news outlet, and then add one or two more. Stick to just those. Are you an NPR junkie? Trust Mother Jones? Love your New York Times? Have you subscribed to The Financial Times since your business professor required it? Or are you a strictly Alternet or HuffPo news consumer? Stick with what you love and add one or two others that have at least a marginally different point-of-view. Give those outlets your love – as in subscribe to them!
- Don’t waste energy on “fake news” items. Come on now, you know, don’t you, when something is probably fake or at least wildly exaggerated? I mean, I know it’s tough, especially in an election year, because we WANT certain things to be real and that may dampen our intelligence quotients. But before you get angry/excited/blindsighted/thrilled with a piece of news, see if it’s reported on elsewhere. Twitter can be particularly helpful for this – Facebook, less so. When in doubt, remind yourself of this fake news guide from On The Media. And definitely don’t share it, even as a joke. Seriously, some people will believe it.
How to Step Away Effectively
- Music. Have a trusted CD or playlist or station (without news!) that you can listen to when feeling frazzled. I like the Magnolia soundtrack, several mixed CD’s from a friend with great musical taste, The Cranberries, a classical music station, and 80’s channels. Joy Division and Joan Armatrading are reliably effective.
- Books. Escape into a novel or a book about a subject you love. I know several people who find great satisfaction in reading cookbooks. I’m currently reading one or two chapters a night of The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades, and I have Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood on standby. If you commute, try to read in the AM and PM every day. Audiobooks are acceptable as well, but I think actually reading is more subversive these days.
- Friends and family. Or not. Just get out. Go to dinner. Get coffee. Visit a museum. Take a walk in the park. Go to the gym. Visit historical landmarks. Window shop. Shop. Take a class. Feeling really stressed? Treat yourself to a massage or nail buff or whatever. Indulge in experiences.
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