Last night, I had a long talk with a close friend about our media consumption. I caught her at a moment when she’d been bingeing on Twitter and she was in a state. I have a unique perspective on all of this because, although I am a news and entertainment editor, I don’t participate in social media in my personal life. So I don’t have to deal with the constant onslaught of bad news. I get to choose when it’s time to look at media. And it’s liberating.
It’s not about tuning it all out and staying ostrich-like — that’s for sure. I am keenly aware of the news out there — every hour, there’s some new bit of news from the political arena. It feels like a roller coaster. The inauguration was a day so full of anxiety and fear for me that I could barely concentrate. The news of Trump immediately deleting the Whitehouse.gov pages for LGBTQ+ rights, Obamacare and climate change felt like an immediate blow, as did the executive order he sent out to derail the Affordable Care Act. Then the Women’s March on Washington felt incredible to attend, as did observing the sister marches all over the world. And now, Trump has really gone hard this week — the news has been absolutely abysmal.
The Global Gag Rule feels as though we’ve rewound to the Reagan era. The executive order to reinstate the Dakota Pipeline is absolutely heartbreaking. The muzzle newly affixed to the EPA is terrifying. The Muslim travel ban — barring immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from coming to the United States — is absolutely unacceptable.
And that’s just the beginning. As my editor pointed out, there has been news of late about “abortion defunding, pipeline restarting, NAFTA canceling, wall building, refugee rejecting, attacks on Chicago, continued obsession about crowd sizes, gag orders on government agencies, Supreme Court nominees, shutting down a National Parks Twitter over climate change tweets,” and on and on. That last one seems particularly petty — though no less insane than any of the other recent developments.
So, how to cope with all of this? From someone who has respectfully declined to participate formally in social media, I have five ideas.
It’s hard not to scroll, scroll, scroll through Facebook and Twitter, but the results are devastating. Rather than getting all of your news via social media, try choosing a few news outlets and seeing what they have to say regularly. It’s wise to pick a few that have differing political opinions — for example, The New York Times and also The Wall Street Journal — to get the full spectrum of coverage out there.
From Day 1, I have been all about “don’t agonize, organize.” Sign up with your local activism groups, attend their meetings, show up at your senators’ offices, write letters, attend peaceful protests and pay attention.
I have an email thread going with several like-minded friends as well as a WhatsApp chain with all of the members of the bus we chartered to Washington, D.C., last weekend, and we’re all frequently sharing links about news and resources. For example, when I saw that Greenpeace protestors scaled a crane in D.C. and unfurled a “RESIST” sign, I immediately shared it with the gang.
Don’t let yourself get stuck on the internet for two hours straight, and don’t check Trump’s Twitter every five minutes. Allow yourself a small time window each day to keep up with the news — it’s vital that we pay attention, and don’t shirk away just because it’s painful — and when that time is up, move on. Set at timer, and stick to the time slot you choose.
No joke, meditation is extremely valuable through all of this. I don’t meditate daily, but most days, I set aside at least 10 minutes to sit and breathe. This helps with the maelstrom of information that has been coming at an alarming rate.
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