A Guide to Dealing with Toxic Political Culture
This year has been one of the most tumultuous and chaotic in our lives. With the murder of innocent African-Americans in the streets, a genocide in Yemen and China, kids still being locked up in cages at the border, gun violence, and an international pandemic to top it all off, it really does seem like the world is falling apart at the seams.
People can only be outraged at so many things before it all becomes too overwhelming to keep track of anymore. For many of us, we have the privilege of putting the phone down if we get too upset. There are countless others who do not have this luxury and unfortunately have to live with the consequences of the reality they live in.
I’ve learned over the past few months that there definitely are ways to remain angry at these things without letting them demoralize me enough to stop fighting for change. This has allowed me to have the same energy no matter what the issue is, using my following to spread awareness. Here are some tips for staying focused and keeping the outrage level to a minimum:
Take it one issue at a time:
All the problems in the world can’t be fought against at once. With that being the case, it’s ok to take a break from everything once in a while. There’s actually a term for getting burned out so much that you just can’t seem to find the motivation to anymore. It’s called “compassion fatigue” and Hasan Minhaj explains it perfectly in an episode of his show, “Patriot Act”.
To avoid this, he suggests focusing on one issue at a time. There is a constant stream of information available at our fingertips every moment of every day and channeling it all into our minds would be insane. It’s not that we are bad people for ignoring donation links or rallies, it’s just that we have a certain capacity for compassion and once it becomes too much, it’s harder to care about new things.
Being too focused on fighting injustice at the cost of your own mental well-being WILL eventually lead to desensitization.
That’s why focusing on just one issue for an extended period of time is advantageous to you and bad for the groups that perpetuate that injustice. This way, you’ll be able to work efficiently without getting burned out.
Of course, other problems in the world will be present. But fighting every battle at once will do no good if you can’t sustain that energy.
Every time you see a stupid post, donate:
I understand that this next one might not be an option for everyone even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic.
For those of you that can, donating to a cause every time you see an uneducated opinion or hate post on social media directed towards that specific issue will be satisfying in its own way.
The most important to keep in mind here is to resist the urge to engage others in the comment section. This doesn’t really help in the long run because it’s not likely the other person will change their mind. No one likes to admit they were wrong about something in person, much less on the internet. As aggravating as that sounds, it’s simply the world we live in.
To combat this urge, donating to a reliable non-profit organization will make you feel like you’ve actually made a positive change. The donation doesn’t need to be that big and since there’s no end to negative and misinformed posts on social media, you’ll probably end up donating frequently.
Once again, I stress that this option is not for everyone. But if you can afford it, this will be a rewarding thing and can combat those feelings of disheartening outrage.
Repost frequently on social media:
You can’t control what other people post on their social media, but you do have full control over your own account. If you have problematic followers, nothing will annoy them more than seeing #blacklivesmatter posts all over their feed.
People might think that excessive posting can be annoying, but this isn’t necessarily the case if it’s for a good cause. People forget about how some actually face systemic problems in real life while others have the privilege of only reading about it online.
The idea here is to post things that will target bigoted people to make them question their beliefs. If they unfollow you, then it’s probably for the best. For everyone else, they will want to become educated so perhaps a little patience would help.
We hear these types of redemption stories all the time. Former neo-nazis and white supremacists who renounce their racist ways and fight for constructive change in the communities that they live in. These people were shown the right way through other people, but also through online sources.
The things that you share and post on your feed can perhaps one day, convert a racist into a respectable human being. Personally, I think that’s worth the grief you get from being “annoying”.
Not every opinion is created equal and in 2020, tolerating intolerance is no longer an option for a lot of people. But being outraged doesn’t have to mean losing your motivation and drive in the process. If you make sure that you’re taking the steps to keep your head in the game, it will certainly be worth it in the long term.