This last week has hammered home that being a responsible, engaged, American citizen is hard work, and we all just got signed up for a second (or third or fourth) shift. I’ve got to filter and fact check every single flipping thing I see or read or hear. My longstanding skimming skills are not serving me well here. The details — and the hidden nuances — all matter very much.
Apparently, I need a checklist when I read the news now. And I resent that deeply.
Is it offered as fact, or as opinion or speculation? Where did it come from? How was the information verified? How differently is it reported across the left-right spectrum of news sources? There’s no such thing as casual news reading anymore. I’m even looking closely to see if the videos about kittens are faked.
RELATED: News spectrum a glance in this excellent infographic by Vanessa Otero.
So much has happened this week, while I’ve been trying to run a business, that I was alternately torn by the distracting desire to keep up, and swamped by wave of overwhelmed feeling all the things I’m concerned about are out of my control until I can cast a ballot in the mid terms (NOT. Yow! Who hijacked my brain?).
As the oldest of four kids, I would pick my battles. Those battles were few and far between, because I am a great big conflict avoider. I decided which specific things were really worth the discomfort of conflict, and the risk that I might lose, in order to step into the fray and fight for it.
This week, everything looked like a battle that needed a champion. I’m an oldest child. I feel very RESPONSIBLE for things. I’m pretty sure my friends in Canada secretly hold me personally responsible for all the consequences they don’t like about how America voted. As the days ticked by, the President signed so many executive orders, and there were so many other actions, changing so many things that I realized I could no longer keep up with everything going on.
It was cold comfort to run across a post in my Facebook feed of a consolidated list of the new Administration’s actions of the week. I admit I shared, it but I didn’t fact-check it, so my bad. If you have a source for an ongoing list you consider reliable, would you let me know?
I know I have to keep up, I want to be a responsible citizen…and before last week I was already running at 120% of capacity just trying to run a business, stay healthy, and show kindness and caring and compassion for the people in my life.
That is paralyzing. It is exhausting. And it’s not sustainable. Nobody can stay in high dudgeon indefinitely. Even my friends who are the most passionate advocates for justice are limiting their social media feeds simply to stay healthy.
It is really challenging to let go of the idea that any one of us can advocate for all the things we care about every minute of every day. We can’t.
RELATED: Mirah Curzer (“Lawyer. Feminist. Photographer. Slurper of noodles and drinker of scotch”) shared practical steps to stay engaged in these Days of Distraction.
The basic strategy survival of my childhood will work, if I adapt it: it’s okay — and essential — for my to pick my battle(s), so long as I also know who’s fighting the others I care about.
I haven’t had time to start the blog post about the immigration ban from predominantly Muslim countries, which suddenly jumped the queue yesterday while I was researching a post on the art of conversation with a friend to seek common ground. Before I do either of those things, I need to make a donation to the ACLU.
(*Aaron Sorkin fans unite. No apologies. ALSO: See 1/29/17 MSNBC commentary by Lawrence O’Donnell on how effectively Donald Trump has demonstrated his skill as Negotiator for America. O’Donnell, not a career actor, stepped in to play the role of President Bartlet’s father in the West Wing episode Two Cathedrals, )