In-sync, but not insane
“Shut up. Shut up shut up shut up. Shut. Up,” I utter to myself in the same cadence as the pulse of real-time news on Facebook and Twitter.
I hate the president. I hate his spokespersons. I hate politicians. I hate biased news agencies. I hate the comments section. I hate news. I hate information. I hate haters. I hate everyone. I hate you, your mom, and your cat, and I hate you all in real time. God, I’m so tired of real-time news — of bad news, of bad news packaged as good news; I’m tired, I’ve reached my hating threshold, and I’m about to implode.
For months, and with greater intensity each day, I’ve grappled with this conundrum: How do I preserve my sanity while remaining in-sync with the terrible, terrible realities of this world? Is there any way to zone out and still be in the know? After just a few weeks of trying out different methods to preserve my sanity, I’m happy to report that I have — at least for the time being — solved my conundrum.
Do It Like Daddy
The imagery in my mind, of being both in-sync and sane, is as utopic as it is real. I imagine my dad (or my lolo, or my favorite uncle), in his natural daddy state: breakfast, a cup of coffee, today’s papers in hand, and a few minutes of leisure time. It occurred to me that maybe — just maybe — what’s making me an exponential hater, isn’t news per se, but the fact that I receive news in real-time, as it happens. It’s the method in which I consume news, which has strayed so far from the ideal image of my dad having a leisurely breakfast while browsing through news, that has caused me stress. It makes sense; news, taken in only during set and limited times of the day, is informative rather than exasperating and unsettling. It takes on a better context and perspective; news is not my pulse, and when I don’t give it the power to be in cadence with my heartbeat, I take away its power to dictate the cadence of my moods.
If news is not my pulse, then it follows: If I were to remain aware, and yet keep my sanity, I would have to limit my consumption of news. I have to take news in its proper doses, and maybe it would be able to play the part it ought to play in my life.
So what, now? Is it even possible in this day and age?
The problem with applying the imagery of my dad reading the morning paper into my own life is that it seems almost counterintuitive, because it doesn’t fit the habits I’ve grown accustomed to over years of consuming real-time news. So I attempt to find compromise, a compromise that has done wonders for my overall mood. Listen, and listen well: because I actually have an easy-to-follow ~two-step guide~ that will yield instant results. Hell, if a hater like me can do it, so can you!
Step 1: Unfollow. Unsubscribe. Be unrelenting.
Rappler? Biased piece of psuedo-intellectual shit. Mocha Uson? Not an ounce of credibility. Juan Nationalist? Negastar. ABS-CBN and ANC? More yellow than the yellow brick road. GMA News? Startalk in news form. Inquirer? Too elitist. CNN Philippines? Irrelevant. Martin Andanar? Don’t get me started. Unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow.
This is the part where you take revenge on every single news outlet, news source, political analyst. Give the comments section a well-deserved middle finger. Make the exercise cathartic and express all your hate — blame them for months of stress and anxiety, then unfollow. Purge. Leave no trace — not on Twitter, not on Facebook — and relish the apathy. For a few minutes, at least.
Step 2: Well, uh, this is awkward: Re-subscribe. Re-follow.
Well, well, well, look how the turntables… Tables turned……. Never mind. Enjoy the apathy while it lasts, which isn’t for very long.
Look, the image of my dad reading the papers first thing in the morning isn’t an image of apathy. It is, in fact, the exact opposite; it’s purposeful and intentional consumption of news. It says “First things first: I’ll begin my day with an update of the most important things that happened yesterday; I’ll read the newspaper from end to end, regardless of my political leanings. And I’ll do it in cadence everyday, because reading news is supposed to be an enriching experience.”
But how can this purposeful habit be done in the digital, paperless age?
Here’s what I did, and I believe it’s the proper dose of news to keep my raging and haterade at bay.
I created a new twitter account (important!) and I followed all relevant news outlets, journalists, media personalities, politicians, government agencies, thought leaders, etc. Follow them all. Follow everyone, even those you disagree with, and be unrelenting.
I then downloaded another twitter client on my phone (e.g. tweetdeck), for the sole purpose of my new news-following account.
And this is the trick: Set a time and duration during the day to check this separate twitter account, using the separate twitter client on your phone. Read the news that concerns you, and curate the sources well. After a while, It’s easy to see which news outlets are nothing but tabloid and click-bait journalism; unfollow and say “I gave you a fair chance, goodbye.” Heck, go as far as thanking it for its service. I personally check this account for 5–10 minutes as soon as I come home from work, but I also allow myself to check it a few times during the day when I am alerted of “breaking news” by friends.
Almost a month into following my own self-help advice (Hello? World? You can start calling me the Marie Kondo of digital news. Anytime now…) and I can say that the effects are positively palpable. I don’t hate my president as much (ha! it’s possible!) because I receive his soundbites in the smallest of doses. He can only rob me of my joy in the 10 minutes that I am fully immersed in my “real-time news.“ The tone of the rest of the day, is up to me to decide.
I won’t say I don’t miss the chaos of being in-the-know and in-the-now. I still look up to people who are able to keep sane amidst the hyperactivity of real time news. But as for me? I’m sorry, but I’ve made my choice: I’ll make the concession of defining “real-time” as a daily, purposeful habit instead of a constant, by-the-second nagging that sends me into spirals of erratic moods and irritability. This is my new “now,” and I couldn’t be happier.
Fine, I concede that the imagery of this new habit isn’t as nostalgic as the image of my dad reading the papers while drinking coffee, but the sanity — oh god, the sanity — you’ve been sorely missed, and I’m keeping you with me until further notice.
Thank you Ram for the awesome gifs!! You can view his other ~ahrt~ stuff here: https://www.behance.net/hallerthere