One of my BIGGEST HOPES post president-elect-Trump has been that this political climate will motivate us all to get more involved—to get in the streets, but more importantly to get on the phones with legislators, support—with our time and resources—the organizations on the ground that have been, and will continue to fight for the things we hold important.
One of my BIGGEST FEARS is that the artificial satisfaction produced by ‘shouting’ thoughts between two quotation marks and pressing that little blue “post” button will satisfy that urge to get out there DO SOMETHING.
I’ve been overwhelmed, sometimes paralyzed, in the recent weeks. Time and energy normally spent pondering, planning and working towards my future has felt somewhat futile. Instead of fighting that, I’ve embraced my desire to go inward. I’ve been investing time in myself: in cooking meals, enjoying time with my friends and family, letting each moment unfold just as I wish. To no surprise, that landed me in the driver’s seat of my Honda Element and after a week of road tripping, car camping, boat houses, fires, strolls along the Pacific and slumbers next to a running river with no cell service, no news and no social media, I was finally able to re-immerse.
The first thing I stumbled upon when I logged back on was Nathan Heller’s “The Failure of Facebook Democracy,” published in The New Yorker. Nathan’s piecing together of studies and conversations related to the part that Facebook played in the recent election started to solidify all those bits and pieces of guilt and confusion. It left me feeling a bit like I’d imagine an alcoholic feels at their first AA meeting. “My name is Lindsey, and I have a problem.” My theory about the role that social media will play post-election was raised to a whole new level:
Social media may not only be responsible for paralyzing us from mobilizing from here on out, perhaps its the exact reason we got here.
I was totally duped by the results of this election. The majority of my friends (ahem, 98%) voted for the same president (in as much as they were willing to admit to me face-to-face or publicly). I left numerous election-season conversations feeling invigorated by intelligent and reassuring discussions with my friends and colleagues. But it goes beyond that. Maybe I’ve been lazy: I read my favorite outlets, listen to my favorite public radio shows, I enjoy the company of my ‘conscious’ friends and followers—but even as a news reader, world traveler and relentless question asker…
I realize I’ve succumbed to an experience that has been curated by someone other than myself.
Admitting you have a problem is half the battle, right?
I fear we’ve been leaning too heavily on others for the answers: seeking some sort of semblance of our own values and truths to be reflected in our elected leaders; depending on our friends rants to tell us what’s happening in the world; finding it easy to agree with a pundit that almost always says something we can stand behind.
Now is the time to listen; to seek from within that sweet, curious voice that has been with us since the day we were born, but also to explore the voices outside our comfort zones. I don’t have the solution, but…
I’m committing to read more, to meet with my legislators, to reach out to people beyond my zip code, age range and Facebook algorithm and get involved with the people and organizations doing the WORK!
I’ve listed some of the things I’m doing and that I’ve witnessed in my community. These are just some of the ideas and honestly, are just the baby steps. If you have some ideas to share, please do!
#1 READ REAL SHIT
Turn off the TV, power down your computer. Pick something up. Buy a book, subscribe to your favorite newspaper. Sip a cup of coffee and turn pages between your fingers.
As for news, we clearly can’t trust Facebook, not only due to the algorithm/echo chamber effect, but also it’s splattering of fake news, which has gotten so bad that the Pope himself just likened it’s consumption to eating feces. Choose your own algorithm and look to real news sources with frequency.
Why not give good ol’ fashioned journalism a revisit? Nearly no news outlet comes without a bent (or funding) these days, so diversify your sources. I’ve put together a short list of media outlets I myself and my progressive and informed friends lean on as our go-tos.
- Democracy Now, This listener supported, ad free outlet is clearly left-leaning but Amy Goodman and team are talking about the stuff no one else will talk about. Let’s get fired up!
- The New Yorker: Smart, insightful, researched commentary that digs deeper into the important issues.
- NPR: Good broad overview, plus they have an awesome app so you can listen to what you want, when you want to.
- KPCC : My awesome local public radio station — what’s yours?
- The Atlantic: Smart, with short, to-the-point email roundups.
- Al Jazeera: Quality content from a relatively objective and not-American perspective.
- Vox: I’m new to Vox, but I’m liking it. Sexy at first glance, and the smarts to see it through.
- Bloomberg: Financial, markets and business.
- Twitter – OK, I know, this is sort of contradictory, BUT Twitter gives you the ability to not only select the exact outlets from which you want to receive news, but also to be specifics about which individual reporters you want to hear from. In the words of media master Dylan: “I can get every piece of news from Laura Nelson, the transportation writer for LATimes, without having to scan through all the bullshit hollywood news they like to print.”
#2 TALK, BUT FIRST…LISTEN
This is the first time in history that ‘talking politics’ isn’t taboo. Embrace it. Talk about it with the people you love, talk about it with people you can’t stand. But more importantly, listen. Actually listen. Let down your guard, throw your point out the window. Take a little tip from Trevor Noah who did so on late night television! (Maybe we’re all on the road to recovery!)
#3 GET TOGETHER
Gather your smart friends, get together with the generation that came before you, and the generations that will follow. Talk to people outside your zipcode. Talk. Listen. Share resources. Pool ideas. Launch a new campaign. Eat pizza and call your Senators together. Even if all you do is drink wine and give each other hugs, that’s cool too.
#4 GET INVOLVED WITH A CAUSE THAT CAPTIVATES YOU
There’s plenty of organizations that have been fighting important issues for years. Having been on the ground through multiple administrations, you can trust that they are the best equipped to protect our rights within the coming political climate. Go volunteer for one of their many campaigns. If you can’t give your time to all of them, give resources. Not made of money? Offer your services in exchange for donations for the cause. Some organizations that I find important, but particularly poignant now include: NRDC, Planned Parenthood, NAACP and Sierra Club.
#5 LEAD LOCALLY
We need reinforcement on EVERY single level of decision making and advocacy. Giving time and resources to national organizations is important, but national decisions start with local leaders. Take a bottom up approach. Local decisions are not only easier to propose, implement and uphold, but they spark the larger actions. Attend city council hearings, run for a local governing body or join the board of an organization you care deeply about.
#6 TALK WITH YOUR LEADERS AND LEGISLATORS
I know it can be hard to imagine but this is not only way less scary than you might think, it’s more effective than you know! Sometimes the squeaky mouse gets the cheese, and that’s better than the fat cat taking it all. Monied interests are talking to our policy makers day and night, hearing what the people find important helps your policy makers stand up on your behalf. If you’re not feeling ready to set an in-person meeting, it takes less than a minute to call the office of your legislator and let them know how you feel.
- 1) Find their number (this spits out all your elected officials once you enter your address)
- 2) Find out their stance on the particular issue
- 3) Go on record. It’s as simple as:
- 2) Find out their stance on the particular issue
For those who are in favor or lead the effort:
“Hi, My name is Wylder McGee and I wanted to thank Senator Cardin for his leadership in introducing the resolution that calls for Trump to establish a blind trust for his business. It’s this kind of leadership that makes me happy to have him in office.”
For those who might not be on your side:
“Hi my name is Wylder McGuyver, I’m a resident of Utah and I want Senator Lee to know how important it is that we support the resolution for Trump to establish a blind trust for his business. It’s really important that our president’s financial conflicts don’t impact our international relations”
Last, we’re in for a WYLD ride, but each of us has the power to make a difference at home and in our communities. Start with being good to yourself and those around you! I’d love to hear what you are doing in your communities, feel free to share them with me @ellejurca on twitter or instagram.