This week’s Feminist Fridays post is another installment of the How Do You Deal series and this month marks its one year anniversary! When I started this series, I had no idea how amazing it would turn out. I have connected with bloggers online in a whole new way and have seen such a great response from Clear the Way‘s readers. Thank you so much, everyone, for being a part of this great series with me.
Because there are certain issues in life and in feminism that are tough to talk about on our own, the HDYD series allows many voices the opportunity to share in these discussions, making it easier for us to talk about our beliefs, opinions, and feelings. Each month I ask contributors how they deal with an issue and we each share our thoughts on the matter. This month we are talking about upsetting current events. Here are my feelings on this topic:
I sometimes feel like every time I read the news, I hear about a new shooting, a new rape, a new unwarranted arrest or some other terribly upsetting event. While I want to remain informed about the goings-on around me, I feel the need to step back occasionally in order to handle some of the more gruesome stories. I have found the best way to deal with upsetting current events is to digest them slowly and decide the best course for action. This can mean reading articles only a little at a time, processing the information slowly, and talking through my feelings with others. When I take action (either by raising awareness, donating to funds or some other response) regarding these events, I feel able to repurpose my distress into something that may help.
Now let’s hear what my contributors had to say about upsetting current events, and feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.
A checklist for dealing with upsetting current events:
1. Assess your mental health, and assess your knowledge and ability to help. Will you make things worse? Can you add something important? Change a close friend’s mind? Measure this against the toll it takes on your health, if this is a concern. Detach if needed.
2. Remember you don’t owe anyone engagement. If someone wants to “debate” a topic that dehumanizes you, you’re allowed to say ‘fuck off.’ Unfollow, block and mute indiscriminately, during event fallout and every other time. Cultivate a safe list.
3. If the event involves someone less privileged than you, support their voice. Link them (make sure they welcome it), retweet them, distract their trolls, listen when called to action. Listen.
There’s always so much going on in the world, but lately it does feel more overwhelming. My positive spin on that is that these injustices have been going on for a long time, and now they’re just being brought to light more frequently and with more outrage. And maybe that will translate to change. The news still gets me down quite a bit, but responding to that with anger and activism just means I’m not too jaded to care about things, so there’s even an upside there. Healthy outlets for that (like volunteer work and talking with my partner and friends) are key.
It seems like there’s been a lot of crazy huge events lately in the news. With that comes a lot of online (and real life) controversy – I usually try to stick to my own business, even though I’m a pretty hardcore feminist. My main problem with current events and the upheaval they bring is that whether you’re on the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ side, everyone hates on each other. We should all be able to have (and express) our own opinions without a hate storm coming our way from the opposing side.
Oh man, current events! It seems there’s always something on the news that’s upsetting in regards to women or just upsetting overall. To be honest, to deal with horrible current events I like to rant to my friends or my mom, someone whom I know will “get it” and can rant with me. That definitely makes me feel better!
It might sound heartless, but I’m rather good at switching off from those horrible feelings that come with upsetting current events and news. I know that there is no point in fretting and being sad or angry for a longer period of time, so after my initial feelings of sadness, anger or frustration, I tend to push them away, rather focusing on positive things, and putting energy into other things. That said, I think hearing about horrible stuff happening definitely deepens my frustration with some part of our world, and makes me want change to happen more quickly.
In general, I flatly refuse to read any of the comments for news stories that I see online–it is so disheartening to see how hateful people can be to one another, and I want no part in it. As of late, blatant gender inequality is one of the topics I get most frustrated about. The pay gap infuriates me, and I can’t understand how, in this day and age, it’s still okay to pay a certain group more just for having a Y chromosome. I don’t actually have a solid way to deal with this yet (other than carrying on with my life) since I’m still a student, but I’m going to have to learn how to negotiate fair pay in the future.
I have learned that the greatest way to deal with upsetting current events, especially ones that involve violence or hatred, is acceptance. Not in a sense that is cavalier or dejected, but in a way that honors any victims and keeps a rational view of the circumstances. These events do not take away from the aspects of living that are beautiful and good; chaos is, in its nature, an aggregation of destruction and creation, of violence and peace. Only you have the ability to make something good or bad, no one else has the power to fashion your life into something amazing. Once you truly accept that you have this power, then contentment and compassion can bloom even when it seems the darkest.
Good news barely makes the papers. I get CNN alerts on my phone and although I like staying informed, it’s heartbreaking to get an alert of another mass shooting, another death of an influential person, another natural disaster. I’ve found the best way to deal with upsetting current events is to seek out the good news; it’s harder to find but it happens every day. June 26 was a beautiful day this year because the news focused on joy and love with the Supreme Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal. That day reminded us all that love really does win and that the world is at its best when we support each other and put love first.
So now you tell us: How do you deal with upsetting current events? Do you relate to anyone above?