Why I Replaced Facebook with Medium and Vox with ESPN
About two years ago, midway through my political science major, I became a news junkie. I became addicted to political and financial news. I was always the most up-to-date on current events, always the first to share new facts about the state of the European Union, democratization in Myanmar, or the latest bills to come out of the NC General Assembly. I got a bizarre rush from knowing exactly what was going on in the world and analyzing just how it impacted governments all across the globe.
But it’s September 2016, and I can’t do that anymore.
Last week, Donald Trump went from an almost inescapable deficit in the polls to being nearly tied with Hillary Clinton. Many reputable polls showed a gap closing, some even showing Trump polling higher than Clinton nationally. Nearly all showing Clinton polling poorly among millennials. I know all this because I spent at least three hours every day scrolling The Atlantic, Business Insider, Esquire, The New Yorker, and Vox, looking for headlines and analyses to reassure me that my future was going to be safe. That Donald Trump wasn’t going to win in November.
But there is no such article. I realized that no poll, article, or editorial can give me that reassurance that I need. The reassurance that will let me go to sleep at night without feeling a need to visualize an American dystopia does not exist. With Trump’s rise, I realized that my interest and passion for news became less of an intellectual one and more of an unhealthy search to make uncertain events certain. Reading statements from the Fed to try and gauge whether interest rates would rise became reading FiveThirtyEight to be assured that the polls were wrong so I could rest my anxiety over the upcoming election.
But as I’m learning over and over again in my post-grad life, nothing at all is certain. I don’t want to discuss my current job search, but expectations have had to be lowered time and time again. My Bachelor’s degree isn’t doing what I thought it would. But my response to this isn’t just to complain and worrying about my future (though there is a lot of complaining and worrying). I’ve sent out resume after resume and cover letter after cover letter, actively taking action to control and move toward my future.
But you can’t necessarily do that with national elections. So I asked myself what action I could take to lessen my anxiety. So I volunteered with my local Democratic Party to register voters, I pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton and… That’s all I can do. Reading news outlets over and over again does not help. Sharing liberal news articles on Facebook really does not help. Realizing what I can do to help impact the election (which is not much at all) and realizing what doesn’t has helped set me free from a lot of the anxious thoughts and feelings I was experiencing in regards to this election cycle.
So I made the decision to stop checking Facebook. I don’t know about anyone else, but my news feed has become a beehive of unsubstantiated facts, none of which I can make people stop believing, and uninformed opinions, none of which I can make people change. I replaced it on my phone with Medium, where I can not only voice my concerns freely with no obligation to friends or family, but also make sure the content that I see is informed, intelligent, and (at least until November) completely free of politics.
And I stopped checking Vox, and The Atlantic, and all the other news sites that used to provide me with excitement and information. And I started checking ESPN again. My fantasy team is pretty bad, but I have a pretty good rotation at quarterback (I benched Andrew Luck for Derek Carr this week, it was a good choice). And nobody really talks about it, but obsessing over football, which has no real bearing on me or my life, is an extremely refreshing escape.
It’s important to be informed, and I’m not saying to fully eschew all news forever. But making some changes in what content I put in front of me has certainly been good for my mental and emotional health. So if you’re as stressed as I am about this current election and the likelihood of a Trump presidency, identify ways to volunteer, vote Clinton in November (literally the only way to say no to Donald Trump, do not argue with me on this because you’re wrong), and find a hobby that has nothing to do with the many upsetting things currently in the news. It just might keep you sane.