Or maybe more accurately this title should be, “how I am navigating life during these crazy, tumultuous days.” No matter your political leanings, I imagine that you feel it too. Over the past six months or so, I have been in an internal process of figuring out boundaries and healthy decisions around Facebook, news consumption, and relationship preservation in the midst of strong disagreement. At times, it has been exhausting.
I have come up with a few ideas on how to accomplish my goals of staying calm, sane, and present to my family while also speaking up and acting upon issues that are most important to me. This is an organic and ongoing process.
Meditation – Whether I am in a yoga class or sitting in my favorite chair by the fireplace with a candle lit before me, I do lots of breathing and meditation these days. I believe that within faith expression, the contemplative practices are making a comeback. We all need to do whatever we can to be more centered and calm.
Facebook “rules” – I use a screening tool called “facebook purity.” It isn’t perfect but it has helped me make better decisions about how I wish to use this form of social media. It only works on desktops, so I try to mostly check Facebook from there. I most often choose to follow “friends feeds” so I get an update on those I am most interested in following – lots of photos, family news, and of course the sharing of news articles. I usually don’t click on the news links they share (see below), but sometimes when I have a friend who is thoughtful and discriminating about such things, I do. If it is truly news, I double-check the source and only click if it is one that I believe to be reliable. If it is a blog or opinion, I will sometimes engage if the topic is of interest or the author offers a new idea or perspective.
If I have a friend, on the right or the left, who seems to be in a ranting or preachy or over the top frustrated mood, I unfollow them for a time. Sometimes I check back in after a time. Things sometimes settle.
I have some friends that have said publicly that if someone posts political things, they are going to unfriend or unfollow them. I get that response. Facebook is still a place where on occasion I am able to interact with people of like mind and learn of ways to collaborate. I appreciate that aspect of it. On occasion, I find something highly important or compelling and will post that. I am truly ok if that means that others decide to unfollow me.
I do my best to avoid going on Facebook anytime after 6-7:00 pm. Sleep is critical during these stressful days, and I try not to open myself up to anything within my control that might jack me up before I need to wind down for a good night’s sleep.
I heard a most interesting podcast that interviewed Maria Popova, “a cartopgrapher of meaning in a digital age.” Her challenge to all of us to harness the internet for good and positive outcomes was inspiring. I am working on that in my own interactions with this growing force in our world.
News Sources – This is a new habit that I am trying to adopt. Every morning, before I get onto Facebook, I go onto the news source website that I believe to be most trustworthy, in depth, and reliable. Every day or so, I also go to a source that offers a different point of view so that I know where “the other half” is coming from. I don’t linger there, but it is helpful and instructive.
This discipline helps me when I get on Facebook. I am not as apt to be hearing something upsetting or concerning for the very first time. I realized that when Facebook was the origin for any disturbing news, my mind would swirl and twist and turn. It also helps me to have context for why all of a sudden people on both sides of an issue are posting frenetically. Some days, it is better to stay off of social media. I will admit this is hard for me, but I want to make that healthy choice more often.
Prioritized Response – For me, there are many troubling decisions and issues constantly rolling before me. Opening up to the news of the day can sometimes feel like a giant game of “whack-a-mole.” Several months back, I realized that I needed to go through a process to identify my top three concerns in this particular political climate. I have landed upon my very own priorities.
Having a clear number 1, 2, and 3 has provided clarity. When something happens with my #3, I often make phone calls and encourage a few friends to do the same. If it is my #1 or #2, I take further action steps. I also have a clear pathway forward about how I want to spend my time and energy and relationship building. I pay particular attention to these three matters when they hit the news. I am extremely grateful that when I ask similarly minded friends about their priorities, they are often different from my own. They are hard at work around their passions.
Because of the way that President Trump communicates, I could spend a great deal of wasted time and energy hopping from drama to drama. Many things I have to let roll. But not my top three.
Self-Care – As a parent, I learned in a very hard way that self-care is essential in times of high stress. I almost completely unraveled as a mom and human being during a particularly difficult time (stay tuned for my upcoming book and you can read ALL about it). I am no good to anyone if I don’t take good care of myself. Personally, that means a great deal of exercise, healthy food choices, sleep, monthly massage, and hanging out with people I love and who make me laugh. I believe that for at least the next four years, and most likely well beyond, the therapists, yoga instructors, and masseuses in our world have great job security. All of these are a part of my self-care plan.
How have you managed the 24/7 news cycle, disagreements with family and friends, and your very own Facebook fatigue? I would love to hear from you. I am always looking for new ideas about better ways to live.