I have to admit that all of this is getting to me. In the last two weeks alone, there have been thousands of more Coronavirus deaths, a massively chaotic presidential debate, a terrible outcome in the Breonna Tayler case, the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, millions of acres of California burning in flames, thousands of more jobs lost after businesses have closed or downsized, and the October surprise of the US president testing positive for Covid-19. I am also feeling more anxiety as the US presidential election approaches on November 3rd of next month, and I have finally been able to admit to myself that I have been experiencing a low-grade depression for the last few weeks.
Yes, all of it is getting to me.
What bothers me the most is a feeling of powerlessness amid all of this death, injustice, and chaos. What is there to be done?
I wake up some mornings feeling drained and unmotivated. I sigh when I come across another news headline of something terrible. All of this is impossibly sad and frustrating.
I have been alive long enough on this planet to know that I need to take responsibility for my own wellbeing. I cannot keep spiraling down this path. I cannot let all of this gloom and doom get the best of me.
With this in mind, here is what I am planning to do:
Acknowledge my emotions whether they be sadness, anger, frustration, or any form of depression. It is important to sit with these feelings and hear them out. Denying that they exist will only do greater harm. Writing this blog post is one way of dealing with this, and another is taking some quiet time to myself to think about it all.
Exercise outdoors on a regular basis. I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog that I have been going on long walks every day. I will continue doing this, and maybe find other places to walk for a change of scenery.
Stay hydrated and eat healthy. I am blessed to have access to homegrown food every day from our garden. I’ve been avoiding sugar since January 1st of this year. Thankfully, I am well-positioned for this part of my plan.
Handle my daily frustrations with kid gloves. Whenever I am feeling aggravated about a mistake I made or something I utterly failed at, I will be gentle with myself. Take a step back. Take a deep breathe. Maybe take a nap or step outside. I won’t be so hard on myself.
Connect with friends and loved ones. I do not have to experience the troubles of this world alone. I will reach out and stay connected with others, even though the dominant introverted part of me finds that difficult.
Seek out opportunities to laugh as much as possible. Laughter is healing, and so I am on the hunt for the best comedic films to watch. I am open to suggestions.
This plan does not seem like much, but I have always believed that incremental changes across a long period of time make the most substantive and deep shifts.
2020 is far from over, and there will quite likely be more chaos and trouble to come. I am trying to figure out a way to cope with it all.
One way or another, I will simply do the best I can. This is all I can do,
During the last presidential election cycle here in the United States, it has been confirmed by several reputable news sources and government agencies that Russia tampered with our election. I do not know the full extent to which they did this, but one of the more notable ways was through social media.
This sounds like it came out of an espionage novel, but the truth can be as nefarious as fiction. Russian operatives created fake news sites and blasted Facebook and Twitter with stories that were aimed to dis-inform the general public with slightly skewed or blatantly false information. These stories and headlines were often shared and discussed by users of social media, and with enough time and replication, the perspectives of millions of people were influenced.
Now in 2020, we are approaching the apex of another presidential election cycle. If we do not learn from our mistakes of the past, we are woefully doomed to repeat them.
I have taken the following simple steps to avoid reading news on social media (These apply toward whichever poison you prefer be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram).
Limit time spent on social media.
This is the first line of defense if you know in your soul that you cannot live without being on sites like Twitter and Instagram. The less time you spend on these sites, the smaller the likelihood that you will click on the sensational headlines that your friends share. It’s not likely that your friends are vetting the sources of these stories or the websites they came from, however benign your friends may be.
Avoiding social media as much as possible will significantly minimize the possibility of disinformation spreading to your brain. Try limiting use to a specific time of day for only an hour. Leave your phone somewhere hard to reach. Do whatever it takes. It’s also likely that you’ll find something better to do with your time.
Be discerning about what you click and read on social media
It’s one thing to read and comment on a personal story or anecdote that a friend shares. It is another thing entirely to click on the news links people display. Not only can these websites provide false or misleading information, but they can also have malware that can get into your computer. (Again, this sounds crazy, but the technology exists.) You do not have to click on any news headlines at all, but if you have to, proceed with caution and a questioning disposition.
I find it much more useful to connect with friends about their lives than to discuss political opinions and news. That is the filter that I use to navigate through my feeds.
Use legitimate sources outside of social media to get your news.
As the previous election demonstrates, the algorithms and technology behind social media cannot be trusted. When I disengage from the addictive cult fashioned by Mark Zuckerburg and other powers that be, I seek out actual news sites for detailed information and varying perspectives. This sounds like more effort, but that’s a small price to pay to avoid the mind control that social media seems to be intent on weaponizing.
Incidentally, here is a list of news sites that I like to frequent. Have a look if you are curious, and to make it more convenient, create a folder on your web browser’s “Favorites” list to house them all for easy access. (If you do not like any of these, proceed with caution and skepticism to find others.)
This year’s presidential election will be fraught with drama and noisy divisiveness. It will be more important than ever to be clearheaded and focused on the platforms of different candidates and how you feel about them.
Stay engaged and informed, and please, do not get your news from social media.