Like any secret, I do my best to keep it from people around me. Usually I can hide it well, but it gets harder this time of year. Here’s my dark secret… I hate news and politics and don’t follow it at all.
The reason is simple. I began having such anxiety over the never-ending negative news cycle that I decided my version of self-care was to put my head in the sand and ignore it all. And I have. Soon after Trump was elected, I stopped listening to NPR and un-followed folks on social media who constantly post news articles. We don’t have tv so that helped as well.
The change was incredible! My joy increased; my anxiety lessened. I quickly noticed that people around me were having a very different reaction to the world and people than I was. They talked about how unsafe the world was, how people couldn’t be trusted. I, on the other hand, was experiencing the world as a generally safe place with decent people overall. But I started to feel guilty for “dropping out” and that maybe I was part of the problem.
So, I thought it through critically. Is knowing about every bad thing happening around the world today making me a better human? Nope. Can I change what the asshat president said today? Nope. Do my children benefit from the fear mongering aimed at parents to try and convince us EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS (even though research shows we are currently in the safest time of human history?) Definitely a big ol’ nope.
What do I have control over? I have control over how I treat people I interact with daily. I can create change in my community. I can make someone’s day better with kindness. And I can vote!
I haven’t missed a local or federal election in over a decade. I’ve found a way to research candidates without wading into the ugly ocean of internet comments, news anchors and other thieves of joy:
- I follow candidates I’m interested in on social media leading up to an election. I see if the things they post about resonate with me.
- I research their stance on reproductive justice, LGBTQIA rights, Immigrants, people of color and gun laws. These beliefs quickly steer me toward the right candidate.
- I reach out to people, whose educated opinion I respect, for their opinion. (I do this especially for local elections.)
On Election Day I vote and excitedly wait for the results like everyone else. When it’s done, I head back into my happy place and tune out. I continue to follow a couple select folks who share news that I can act on if needed. Is it time to go to a rally? Write letters? Call my congressperson? I’m in! My husband gives me updates on important issues and I read articles from sources that I find to be balanced and thoughtful, not aimed at inciting fear.
There are times it makes me look a little out of it. When my mom discovered I had “heard” of the coronavirus last week but didn’t know every stat on it she was horrified at my lack of awareness. I asked her if I could do anything else other than practice good hand washing for me and the kids. She said no. So, why would I pore over articles telling me all the ways this could, or could not, turn into something super dangerous? It hasn’t happened yet. It may not happen at all. Why would I let random people on the internet steal my joy in this moment over a potential threat I am powerless to stop? So my mom promised to call with developments, and I promised to keep washing my hands.
What about you? Do politics and daily news make you feel good and energized? Does it overwhelm you and freak you out? I’d love to know if there are any other newsaphobes (yes I just made that word up) out there, and what you do to manage the flood of info coming at you all the time.