It’s been a little over a week since President Trump’s inauguration, and already, millions of Americans are sitting in front of their phones, hysterically retweeting Vox articles, often immobilized with fear.
The bad news comes in so fast you can hardly keep up with it: senior State Department officials asked to resign, a defacto Muslim ban and a white supremacist given a role typically held for generals. As important as it is to remain informed, however, it’s equally necessary for people to stay calm and not lapse into full on Facebook post hysteria. It’s far easier to organize when you’re motivated by the hope in your heart rather than the panic our president inspires.
You can’t and shouldn’t dissociate from what’s happening in Washington. You have a moral responsibility to act. But there are more effective ways you can manage your media consumption and activism, making you a stronger organizer (and way more likable human).
Here’s a look at just a few.
1. You only need one breaking news notification, not twelve.
Do you really need to read “we’re on the verge of nuclear holocaust” story from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Vox, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal? Read the news and often, but only when you can. Don’t let 900 repetitive interruptions interfere while you’re peacefully napping on the toilet at work.
2. Follow more activists on Twitter and Facebook.
Journalists have one job: to inform the public, regardless of the emotional toll it costs. Activists have a slightly different responsibility. They need to execute a careful balancing act: giving their followers enough information so that they stay awake, and the right amount of hope and resources so that people want to wake up in the first place.
3. Set a realistic, measurable goal for the number of phone calls you can make to your representatives per week.
There is only so many times per week you can call your Senator from your office bathroom to block the appointment of Betsy Devos. Stop aggressively copy pasting your email address into 100 different wtf.org petitions and use a service that guides you, like “Five Calls,” which tells you exactly who to call each day and precisely what to say to them.
4. If you’re new to politics, don’t create a new organizing group. Join one that already exists and make it stronger.
Post-election, many of us have been invited to so many secret organizing groups and Facebook chats we have literally lost the ability to click. If you haven’t been active before, admit it you have no idea what you’re doing. Try to find a group in your area already led by experienced organizers and contribute whatever skills you have, even if it’s licking 19th century envelopes or fixing the group’s horrifying Geocities homepage.
5. Celebrate every goddamn victory “the resistance” achieves.
It may be hard to believe, but the past few months haven’t been a total loss for Western civilization. “The resistance” has already achieved remarkable results in a shockingly short period, including: the largest protest in United States history, skyrocketing donations to groups like the ACLU, calls to legislators that actually resulted in real action and the greatest spike in vagina hats this world has ever seen. Instead of just counting up your losses, hold onto your victories. That makes them easier to build.
6. Read news sources that aren’t designed to give you a heart attack
There are plenty of slower-moving, highly reputable news sources out there that aren’t just out to get your heart racing and your fingers clicking. Watch PBS News Hour instead of CNN, listen to NPR instead of Sirius radio and read The New York Times. They’ll give you the news and perspective you need without striking you dead from panic at your desk.
7. Turn off Facebook, Twitter and close any Wiki pages you have open about nuclear war for at least one hour before bed.
You should be doing this anyway, but especially now. You need to sleep. Nazis will be there tomorrow!
8. Eat whatever the hell you want because f*ck it
Listen, the doomsday clock is literally inching towards midnight now is not the time to go Paleo, folks. Sure, it’s technically “good” to eat healthy, but who cares. If eating fettuccine alfredo for breakfast keeps you from bawling in front of your boss, then do it. Don’t let Trump take away your constitutional right to cream sauce.
9. Set up monthly automatic donations from your bank account so you don’t go bankrupt
If you donate to everything people ask you to donate to on Facebook, you will lose your entire life savings to some random state senator’s South Dakota slush fund. Many reputable nonprofits can make automatic deductions from your bank account, so let them provide that service. Of course, you can and should (if possible) donate to other causes as situations arise, but for now, let the bots do the work for you.
10. Go to a march and scream your heart out with a bunch of people who care just like you
Listen: none of us like to stand. But if standing involves yelling obscenities at full volume with women twice your age in vagina hats, and twerking in booty shorts outside of Mike Pence’s gingerbread house, then yes, you should go for it, not just because it feels good, but because it’s effective, and it makes Trump really, really mad.
11. Try to separate fear from reality.
Trump has signed a frightening number of executive orders in the past few days. Whether he’ll actually be able to some execute any of those orders is up for debate most executive orders are symbolic, and even his own Department of Homeland Security is preaching a different message than the White House.
12. Remember: you do have leaders in government who are standing up for you. Watch everything Maxine Waters does.
Not all of the Democratic leadership is dead at the wheel. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) feels your pain. It didn’t even cross her mind to attend Trump’s inauguration. She once lovingly called certain Republicans “demons.” If that’s not a leader, I don’t know what is.
13. Never forget: you’re not alone. The vast majority of this country doesn’t want this either.
Nearly 3 million more people voted for Clinton than Trump.
These people agree with you:
YOU did this. KEEP SHOWING UP. (Repost: Avery Jones) pic.twitter.com/JZnNjWoXo8
Women’s March (@womensmarch) January 24, 2017
Oh and these people:
Video sent from a friend of protest/march happening now in Philly as POTUS prepares to speak at GOP retreat pic.twitter.com/qZpBebrf1v
Dorey Scheimer (@DoreyScheimer) January 26, 2017
Women’s March (@womensmarch) January 29, 2017
The scene from above as thousands chant and scream, draping banners from above at JFK international arrivals shouting “LET THEM IN!” pic.twitter.com/ugU8zbKYiv
Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) January 28, 2017
Even, technically, this guy:
We’re all here, right by your side, even when you don’t see us.